Why You Should Keep Desiccants Packets in Your Kitchen

The climate in San Francisco is often gentle, however it may be oddly humid. Particularly this 12 months, the place we’ve had a document 11 atmospheric rivers move by way of (with extra to return). This implies it takes ceaselessly for dishes and kitchen towels to dry. And something that is hygroscopic (one thing that absorbs moisture from the air or setting) will suck up water like a dry sponge. Fortunately, my husband, a chemistry professor, purchased a bag of desiccant packets. I’ve been utilizing them all around the kitchen.


What Are Dessicant Packets?

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin

Desiccant packets are these small rectangles you discover in issues like bottles of nutritional vitamins, shoe containers, and baggage of beef jerky.  And whereas most folk simply toss them, they’re extraordinarily useful to have round, particularly when you reside in a moist setting.

Most gel desiccant packets are product of silica and might maintain as much as 35 to 40% of their weight in moisture. They’re hygroscopic (sure, I like that phrase) which suggests they appeal to moisture. This moisture-seeking property helps maintain no matter they’re saved with dry.

What Can Desiccant Packets Be Used for within the Kitchen?

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin

There are dozens of components which can be hygroscopic and delicate to moisture, like espresso powder or on the spot espresso. Each are made by dehydrating pre-made espresso or espresso right into a stable state, however the powder desires to be a liquid once more. It’s hygroscopic and can suck moisture from the air like a sponge.

I exploit espresso powder to bake with at any time when I make something chocolate. A contact of espresso or espresso boosts the flavour of the cocoa, which is why it’s included in lots of brownie and chocolate cake recipes. However as a result of I solely use a few teaspoons at most per recipe, a jar of on the spot espresso can sit within the pantry for months. Irrespective of how tightly I screw on the lid, the moment espresso grains all the time lump and solidify, making them unusable the subsequent time I need to make chocolate mousse.

However as soon as I began throwing a desiccant pack into my on the spot espresso powder, it began lasting so much longer. Lengthy sufficient for me to make use of the whole jar to bake with, which is fairly spectacular.

As soon as I found out that I may throw desiccant packets into ingredient containers, I began including them all over the place. There’s a desiccant pack in my powdered sugar to assist stop clumping, in my field of kosher salt, and in my cocoa powder. I stick a packet in any dry ingredient that I believe would possibly clump collectively or get moldy, together with dried mushrooms, panko and common bread-crumbs, baking soda, freeze-dried fruit, bulk dried herbs and spices, and exhausting sweet. Genevieve Yam, Critical Eats’ culinary editor, has used desiccant packets in eating places, too. “We mainly used them to maintain meringues and crispy issues dry, and on the finish of the evening we’d dehydrate the silica in a combi oven at like 100ºF,” she says. “So we’d fill the underside of a flat/vast container with the contents of a silica packet (we’d open it), line it/lure the silica with taped parchment, after which maintain meringue items within the field. It will maintain the meringues crisp.”

The one clumping ingredient I would not put a desiccant packet in, although, is brown sugar. Brown sugar clumps for the precise reverse motive that different components like powdered sugar or on the spot espresso do. With the latter, moisture will get in, partially dissolves issues, and clumping happens. However as a result of brown sugar is usually white sugar processed with molasses, when the molasses loses moisture and dries out, it hardens. Including a desiccant packet to brown sugar would simply harden the brown sugar faster. 

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin

Past kitchen components, picket salad bowls or bamboo steamers get a few desiccant packets thrown into them once I put them away. The desiccant packets stop moisture and potential mildew from rising.

And top-of-the-line issues in regards to the desiccant packets that my husband purchased (from Wisedry) is that they’ve dyed pellets that change colour as they take up extra water. As soon as they go from orange to inexperienced, the packet has absorbed as a lot water as it might probably. Microwave the packet for 30 seconds and the water might be pushed off, making the packets usable once more! 

The one caveat (and it’s a giant one) is clearly labeled on the packet itself: don’t eat the packet! For those who assume the packet is damaged or broken, discard the complete content material of the components it’s sitting in or completely wash the picket or bamboo merchandise. This state of affairs, by the best way, has by no means occurred to me, however it’s an vital one to notice. And when you have young children or somebody who would possibly mistake the desiccant packet as a part of the meals, you must in all probability keep away from utilizing it in your kitchen.


Are desiccant packs toxic?

Nearly all desiccant packets are labeled with a “Do Not Eat” warning. However most desiccant packets are stuffed with silica gel, which is often non-toxic, although sometimes they’ve a coloring agent like cobalt that’s toxic. That stated, the silica gel pellets is usually a choking hazard, particularly for little youngsters. And when you ingest a considerable amount of the silica gel, it’d trigger an intestinal or bowel blockage which may be life-threatening. For those who or somebody has unintentionally swallowed a desiccant packet or the contents of a desiccant packet, name 911 or search medical consideration instantly. For extra details about the potential risks of desiccant packets, go to this WebMD article 

Are you able to dry desiccant packs?

Sure. Most desiccant packs may be dried and reused. Some desiccant packs, just like the WiseDry ones that I like to recommend above, have directions on microwaving them, to warmth them up and dry them out. However most different desiccant packs shouldn’t be microwaved, as that may overheat them. Solely use the microwave methodology if the packet itself recommends it.

You’ll be able to dry most different desiccant packs by inserting them on an aluminum foiled lined baking sheet in a 250°F oven. Warmth the packs for an hour to drive off the moisture. Let the packs cool to room temperature earlier than utilizing once more or storing them in an air tight container.

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