Have you ever wondered when and where early humans first used dehydration to preserve food? It has a fascinating history, so let's look at the ancient practice of food dehydration, where it all started, and how you can use it to improve your nutritional intake.
History of Food Preservation - Where it all Started
Prehistoric humans had to rely on nature and what was available in their immediate area for survival, which counted greatly on their ability to preserve excess food during the growing seasons.
In ancient times, the most abundant resource for food preservation was the sun. We have evidence that Middle Eastern and Oriental cultures were the first to use sun-drying to preserve fish and meat from the wild game as early as 12,000 B.C.
We also have evidence of Native Americans using smoke to dry slices of meat, herbs, vegetables, and fish. The Chinese were drying eggs many thousands of years ago, and people of the Near East would preserve fruit by wrapping it in dry palm leaves and burying it in hot sand.
Of course, nature isn't the most reliable of partners, and there was no guarantee that fresh produce wouldn't spoil after being dehydrated. Temperature, humidity, and cloud cover were all variables that could influence the moisture content left in the food.
However, as civilizations expanded across the globe, so too did humanity's skills in food dehydration. Learning what works and what doesn't help early humans successfully dehydrate food during times of abundance to ensure they had a ready source of sustenance during lean winters.
Early food dehydration machines in modern times were basic devices, but world conflicts accelerated their development.
Increased demand for lighter, more portable, and longer-lasting field rations ramped up progress in dehydration techniques because dehydrated foods were a staple for the troops on all sides, especially during World Wars I and II.
Drying Food Preservation Advantages
In our modern age of refrigerators and canned vegetables, why on earth would we want to continue using ancient food dehydration methods? After all, the grocery store is a reliable supply of fresh food.
Well, not exactly.
Large grocery stores have suppliers all across the country, and it takes time to harvest, pack, store, and deliver them. Therefore, the apples in your fruit bowl could be weeks old even before they make it to the supermarket shelf.
Supermarkets have techniques and added chemicals that keep food looking fresh for longer, so they are at least appealing to shoppers. However, looks can be deceiving.
Food nutrition begins to break down immediately after harvesting, which means that a freshly picked apricot has much more nutritional value than one that has spent days in cold storage getting shipped across the country.
When you see fully stocked shelves of apples, peaches, and strawberries that are not in season in your local area, there's a good chance the stock is days or weeks old. It might look and taste okay, but it is nutritionally compromised.
Fortunately, dried food keeps food edible for longer and locks in most of the original nutrition for a long time.
Those first ancient humans using food dehydration preservation techniques were also preserving all the goodness in their stored rations, simply because it was harvested and dried during the plant's growing season.
In short, the faster you can get your food from harvest to dehydrated, the more nutritious it will be.
Modern Day Food Dehydration
Food preservation through dehydration is alive and well in the modern era, and it also happens to be one of the easiest methods.
Unlike other forms of food preservation techniques like canning or jarring, food dehydration is a lot more straightforward.
Of course, the sun is still around, and many people still use this ancient practice to preserve their food. However, if you don't live in a dry, arid area with plenty of sunshine, you may not have much luck.
Modern technology, like industrial oven dehydration, gives you more control over the food dehydration process. The food is preserved in much the same way humans used the sun thousands of years ago, but the process is much more refined.
The dehydration oven delivers a precise level of control over temperatures, air flows, humidity, and length of dehydration. They also use up a lot less space, and you don't have to guard your food against insects, birds, and hungry mammals.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are a safe and nutritious way to store food and make it last longer without chemicals or added ingredients. Aegean farmed produce is picked and dehydrated fresh to pack in the nutrition. Add them to your recipes or enjoy them straight from the bag as a convenient, healthy snack. Either way, we know you will love the preserved goodness only the freshest ingredients can provide.