Drying Foods (Instruction chart in link at the bottom)
Drying or dehydration, the oldest method of food preservation, is particularly successful in the hot, dry climates found in much of New Mexico. Quite simply, drying reduces moisture necessary for bacterial growth that eventually causes deterioration.
Successful dehydration depends upon a slow steady heat supply to assure that food is dried from the inside to the outside. Drying is also an inexact art. Size of pieces, relative moisture, and the method selected all affect the time required to dehydrate a food adequately.
Methods of Drying
Foods may be sun dried with or without a solar dehydrator, in a gas or electric oven, or with a portable electric dehydrator. Dehydrators with thermostats provide better control over poor weather conditions and food quality than sun drying.
An effective solar dehydrator is the shelf above the back seat of a car. Clotheslines are another popular drying rack for ears of corn and strips of jerky. Colorful red chile ristras hung from vigas are practical as well as decorative.