Friday, January 16, 2009

Food dehydrating

Emma asked about dehydrating zucchini in Inventory's comments so I thoughtI would discuss what I know about food dehydrating.

A couple of years ago my father-in-law gave us a Ronco food dehydrator. It seemed a very basic model.  5 trays and a heating element.  The trays were made of plastic and not really made well enough for the amount of use that we have given it.

 For the last few years we have used it for drying the following veggies and fruit: strawberries, blueberries, herbs, apples, raspberry and strawberry leaf for tea, zucchini, eggplant,  kale, spinach. 

 I dry the spinach and kale and crumble it into breads, sauce and soup because I have a 2 year old that does not  eat many green foods.  This way I can give him the goodness of the veggies under the guise of a sandwich.  Other veggies can be rehydrated in water or throw them into soup and they will soften.  We eat the fruit dried as a snack or put into granola or bowls of oatmeal.

The trays finally fell apart this past year.  I was able to find 5 more trays of a stronger plastic through Freecycle. A neighbor gave us Sunbeam dehydrator with a fan. So we will be trying more veggies this coming growing season.  Plum tomatoes are on the list.

I have heard that you could dry foods in your car in the summer time when it gets really hot. There are plans on line for making your own solar food dehydrator.  And the Cadillac of dehydrators is Excaliber.  I have used my oven in the past to dry leeks and to start some foods when there was no room in the dehydrator.  If you use an electric oven put the food on trays in the oven on low.If you have a gas oven you can just put the trays in the oven with the door cracked.

You should use fresh just picked veggies, fruit and herbs in order to keep all the healthy goodness in the veggie.  Store the veggies in airtight containers. A book I would recommend is Dry It You'll Like It byGen MacManiman.

I like dehydrating because it is so much less energy and labor intensive than canning.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this info with us.. I haven't dried anything in years and when I did, I had a cheapie one too and I never did trust anything dried in it so I always froze the food afterwards. I'm hoping to buy a really good dependable one this year since we're going to be planting a large garden.

Kathy said...

I haven't dried any fruit or veggie in many years ... I don't have a taste for them, so-to-speak, but I do freeze all of my herbs. I wash and dry on paper towels and the layer them on the towels in a freezer bag. Slip into the freezer and after they are frozen remove the paper towels.

It's easy to crush/break up the herbs when they are frozen and saves me time at the cutting board.

Emma said...

Thanks a lot for that, so interesting! I think I might have to get myself a food dehydrator this fall! Or try the car-thing...