How thoroughly you dry food depends on how quickly you plan to use it. Foods that are going to be used within a month or two do not need to be dried as completely as foods which you plan to store for 6 months to a year. Food that will be eaten in a couple of weeks may be dried until you like it. However, foods that are to be stored for longer periods of time must be completely dry before storage. Any moisture that remains in food may cause rapid deterioration and spoilage. Here are some guidelines to help you test dryness:
VEGETABLES: Most vegetables should be dried until hard. Dry peas, corn, broccoli, and cauliflower until they are brittle and shatter when hit with a hammer. Tomato, cucumber, onion and zucchini slices are done when they are crisp and break when bent. Although root vegetables may remain leathery and slightly pliable, they should appear hard and rattle if placed in a jar. Dehydrate shredded vegetables until crisp and crumble easily.
FRUIT: Remove most fruit from the dehydrator when it is leathery or brittle. When cut in half, the color should be uniform. Light spots may indicate moisture. Dates, raisins, figs, and cherries may remain somewhat sticky feeling.
GREENS: Dehydrate greens and leafy herbs until brittle. When completely dry, they will crumble easily in your hand.
MEAT AND FISH: It is important that meat, fish, and poultry be thoroughly dried before storage. Jerky is done when it is uniformly dark in color and leathery. It should crack but not break when bent. Cooked meat or fish will be more brittle when dried.