I cannot exactly remember when my interest in raw food really blossomed. I just know that I was immediately fascinated by the possibility to create amazing recipes without cooking in the traditional way, without exposing food to temperatures above 42°.
Why 42°? In short, because a temperature above 42° would destroy enzymes and vitamins. But is that really so? There is a big discussion about this topic and many different opinions.
Dr. Ann Wigmore, the “mother” of raw food, always set the temperature above 48° for the first hour or two, to be sure no molds or bacteria had an opportunity to get a foothold on the food. Once the food had a soft outer shell, she then lowered it to 40.5°.
Viktoras Kulvinskas agreed with Dr. Wigmore, adding that his testing method revealed that once a portion of food is dried, the temperature of the food could go as high as 65° degrees before the enzymes were destroyed.
Dr. Edward Howell, in his book Enzyme Nutrition, showed that prolonged temperatures over 47° will destroy enzymes.
Dr. John Whitaker, former Dean of Food Science at U.C. Davis, says “every enzyme is different, and some are more stable at higher temperatures than others, but that most enzymes will not become completely inactive until food temperatures exceed 60° to 170° in a wet state.”
Dr. Douglas Graham believes foods cooked above 40° have lost much of their nutritional value and all their enzymes.
Dr. Mary Enig says her studies show that “all enzymes are deactivated at a wet-heat temperature of 47°, and a dry-heat temperature of about 65°.
When I was student at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy in Los Angeles, we used dehydrators always at 46° and not 42°.
In my recipes I stay at 42° with some exception. When dehydrating bread, crackers, cookies or burgers, the first 2 hours I keep the food at 60°, and the remaining time again at 42°. Doing so, I had until now the best results in terms of texture and flavor, avoiding molds as well.