Why in the name of god would someone dehydrate cheese? That is, even though shameful, a question that we’ve asked ourselves a long time ago before jumping into the world of dehydrated dairy as if we were swan diving into a local pool.
If you happen to ask the cheese gods that same question that we asked on that foolish day, your internet search probably brought you here to us. So we welcome you, we’re here to help.
What is cheese dehydration? How is it good for us? How do you, and can you do it? These are the questions and here come the answers.
What is Cheese Dehydration?
Dehydrating food is not something that was invented yesterday. It was first started by our prehistoric ancestors about 3.3 million years ago by sun-drying fruits and meats. We pretty much haven’t stopped since.
Cheese drying has been around much less than that (it took us a while to figure out how to make cheese in the first place), but we had enough time to figure out how to do it properly.
Dehydrating any food is quite a simple task. See, just like us most of the food we eat is in a high percentage of just water. Well if we take the water out of our food we take away all the bacteria that had plans of living and reproducing in it.
That kind of gives cheese (and all other foods) a way to live forever. The nutritional values are kept on point for the most part. And when we say “forever”, we mean it. If kept dry, you can keep it for however long you want.
Throwing out spoiled food is never a pleasant experience and dehydration helps. So if you want your block of beautiful Feta cheese to stay in your family for many generations to come, then we got to get on with answering all the other questions!
The Health Aspect of Dehydrating Food
Dried or dehydrated food, in general, has its pros and cons. Dried fruit can give you a lot of fiber and antioxidants while pumping you full of sugar. The pros are there and the cons right beside them.
While dehydrated cheese doesn’t sway too much to the con side, it’s not recommended in huge amounts. With that being said, cheese keeps most of its nutritional values, it just kind of… makes them stronger.
For instance, cheeses that are blander in taste, like mild goat cheese, usually have a much stronger taste to them after dehydration. Which makes sense. Imagine the good old fruit juice-powder. You put it in a glass and pour water over it, mix it, and voilà – fruit juice.
The health aspects also depend on the type of cheese that you’re dehydrating. Cheeses with a high-fat percentage will have the same percentage but in a smaller package. So like we said already – cheese is good for you, too much cheese is not and the dry variant just gives you the possibility of eating more cheese while eating less.
Dehydrating food is not a huge task but it will take a couple of days to accomplish. On the contrary, it’s simple and easy to do. With cheese, unlike fruit, for instance, you need to go through some steps to make sure it’s done in a way that’s best for you and the cheese.
We’ll use Feta as an example here as the process is pretty much the same with all types of cheese.
How to Dehydrate Cheese at Home
Let’s say you bought yourself an air dryer to prepare for this day and this process of your first cheese-dehydrating. Your common sense might tell you to just cut it into little cubes and pop them in there to let the machine do all the work. Well, your common sense just ruined you some cheese. So let’s see what to do first.
STEP 1 – Preparing the cheese:
The first step is, as always, the most important one. Take your cheese and put it in your fridge to dry-out. You know how your cheese gets all crumbly and dry when you leave it in the fridge for too long uncovered? Well, in a way, that’s the same thing. You want to leave your cheese to get dry in there, and to do that you must first get rid of the excess moisture, just to make the job easier for your fridge (this step is crucial for a fresh and moist cheese like a Feta – Older, already dry cheeses don’t need this treatment).
Once you drained your cheese, put some salt and rub it over all the surfaces. Leave it there for about half a day. Six hours per side should do the trick.
After that, wife of the salt, wrap your cheese in some plastic wrap (or anything else – as long as it’s a clean, dry fabric) and leave it in there for about a week.
STEP 2 – Let the machines work!
Now that your refrigerator’s done with its part of the job, we continue to the next stage. The airdryer stage. Take the cheese out of it’s wrapping and cut it up into little squares. The size of the squares is your personal preference and could only depend on where you plan on storing it. Turn on your dryer and place the cheese on a single shelf.
Now what’s important with this step is that you don’t place it too close to the hottest part of the tray. This could burn the sugar in the cheese and we don’t want that to happen. Dehydrating is a slow and patient process. Too much heat has no role in it.
Depending on your machine and how much cheese you put in, the average time it should take you is about 36 hours, but checking it every 12 hours is very important. Depending on the cheese it could take it much less!
STEP 3 – Storage:
Once your cheese is done, take it out and wait for it to cool off completely before even thinking about where to store it. If you cut it up into little squares at the beginning (that’s our preference), putting it in a big glass jar is, as far as we’re concerned, the best way purely because it just looks good on the counter doesn’t it? Wherever you store it just make sure it’s a cool and dry spot in the kitchen to prolong its shelf life as long as possible.
As far as we’re concerned, you’re ready to make your dehydrated cheese. We hope you do it, because if there’s one thing we hate here, it’s food waste, especially when it’s a cheese that’s getting wasted!