On the advice of a co-worker, I got a dehydrator. I am realizing (kind of like making beer, I guess) that it's not an exact science and the instruction manual that came with the unit has a section for "notes" so you can figure out what worked and what didn't. Does anyone here do this? And if so, are there recipe type things you recommend? I was looking at bananas pre-coated in honey/cinnamon and that looks good. I imagine you could do that with apples too. Any websites to recommend or words of wisdom? Anything I should avoid?
NBR, dehydrating fruit/veggies(31 posts)
teigyr, try these folk: National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. http://nchfp.uga.edu
They have a good booklet on drying fruits and vegetables: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_dry_fruit.pdf
We use their information for canning and it is excellent.
I dry a lot of stuff but don't follow any recipes. It is more of a tool to simply save an over abundance of produce. Here's a bit of what I have learned. Take the pits out of cherries outside or the cleanup is horrible. Squeeze lemon juice over apples and pears to keep them from browning. The brown doesn't change the taste and is purlely for looks, but my wife is much less likely to eat brown apple slices. If you will make apples or pears quite a bit, one of the peeler/corer/slicer tools will save you HOURS for about $15. Dried chanterelle mushrooms are chewy and worthless when rehydrated but the broth makes an excellent base for risotto or soup. Finally, my three year old will eat dried sun gold cherry tomatoes like candy. Dehydrators are pretty fun. Good luck.
Even undried Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are about as tasty as candy! (longing for the late summer tomato harvest)
teigyr - I have dried fruit for years. Last year I bought another dehydrator so that I could use two of them to dry the boxes of ripe bananas and large plums I got from a CBC event. It is easy but a bit time consuming. You just slice the fruit into 1/4 inch slices and layer them in the trays, I have one dehydrator that has 5 trays and one with 6. Then you just have to watch the fruit and rotate the trays taking out any fruit that is drying faster. Let the fruit cool and then seal them in zip lock bags or anything that has a tight seal. I had banana chips for months!
There is a load of info on the web about drying food.
tiegyr- congratulations. It is a very wise purchase.
It is definitely a trial and error endeavor. Keep notes. I'd suggest a few batches of the obvious. Strawberries, Bananas, Apricots. Move toward veggies, meats, grains.
You'll achieve an 85% raw diet with little effort.
I use garlic or pectin as additives for most of my batches. fwiw.
Thanks :) The book says watermelon is good too. I never thought about pears. We get fruit/veggie delivery and while I'm getting better at using the veggies before they go bad, I tend to fail at the fruit. I'll probably start with some apples and bananas, those seem easy. Lemon juice is an excellent idea AND it uses a piece of fruit so I get bonus points for not letting something go bad.
oneder, garlic? On what type of items? Is it for non-browning or flavor? I'm trying to imagine garlic flavored fruit and am failing, unless it's for veggies. What would a typical garlic use batch be?
Veggies and meat. For flavor, and, saliva. It's pretty important for anything dried ;-)I've not tried garlic on fruit ;-)
I've used lemon, but it can quickly overpower the batch. imo.
I'd say look for flavor profiles that you prefer, and try them. I prefer garlic or pectin for most, as I said.
If you know how to can, do it. If you don't, learn it. If you have a pantry, stock it.
My freezer is my go to storage. Ever had frozen strawberry and banana slices? It's my candy anymore. Absolutely perfect and 'un-effed'. I suppose you understand. zip lock goodness, I swear.
I could go on...just keep notes, try stuff. I focus on ingredients that are beneficial to me. I don't focus on presentation for my food. (anti browning is kinda anti-natural, fwiw.) Dried stuff browns, unless you use stuff you don't want in your body.
My two, maybe three, cents.
Thanks! I do have a HUGE freezer and also a food sealer. I think this will be my project for tomorrow, just one batch to see how it goes. I like the idea of honey and cinnamon on banana slices but maybe I should just do plain banana slices at first. Or 1/2 & 1/2, just to see what works better.
If you've got four or five trays, absolutely split your attempts.
I'd take a stab at ground allspice and ginger. Trust me. ;-p
teigyr, my neighbor makes these dried ginger pears which should be illegal because I can't stop eating them. She grates fresh ginger onto the slices which were coated with sugar syrup, a little bit of lemon and lemon zest, then onto the trays. Very nice contrast between the hot ginger and the sweet pear. Another really good thing she makes is dried rings of anaheim? peppers (they are red, about 6 inches long, 1.5 inches diameter). Those are dried au naturel.
I do not have room for more kitchen gadgets but Shelley I think your pear recipe just sold me.
Probably due to my store bought experiences, dried fruits were fairly bland and needed a little extra help from honey, etc.
My first attempt at jerky was a catastrophic failure. The meat turned bad before it could dry. Lesson I learned was to cut the slices much, much thinner.
Dweezil, cut the meat when it is still slightly frozen. It holds its shape better and you can get the thin slices you need. Or have the butcher cut it for you. Skagit River Ranch at the farmer's market sells jerky cut beef. My dog has been the beneficiary of some failed jerky attempts.
shelley, I think I am going to try to make the pears today too :) THOSE sound good.
I am eating a home-dried pear right now. It is heaven. My wife gets an organic box or two in the fall.
I am also eating home dried Italian prunes, not as good as the pears but still delicious. There are so many Italian prune trees in Ballard that it is very easy to gather several bushels in the fall to dry.
I make dried Garnet yams for the dogs. Just peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Drop into a bowl of 8 cups water +1 cup vinegar as you are cutting them. When you are done, stir and drain, then load up the dehydrator. I prepare 4 yams at a time and that fills my Nesco round dehydrator. You end up with something that is slightly chewy. They are great people food, too. I find the dried yams last at room temp in a ziploc bag for about 2 weeks before growing a little green fur coat.
Definitely going to try the pear recipe! Thanks.
teigyr ... Thanks
I am now looking into one especially with Festival and outdoor season around the corner.When the gardens are producing and the dehydrated recipes are perfected we should all gather at a park and have a MyBallard barter fair. There are so many creative minds here that it could be a great event.I would like to see some of Artsey's works also.
I had not thought of using a dehydrator for making dog treats! Thanks jburgh.
All this talk about food driers and we're thinking about pushing the button on one over at Amazon. What is the general wisdom: Round trays or rectangular? Brands to pursue/avoid? Our neighbor has one with maybe 6 or 8 rectangular trays about 18" on a side. It has 2 heaters, and she uses it on her back porch. Some of the round ones seem pretty small, but maybe they work faster, more evenly?
I have a found one with, I think, 6 trays. It seemed like a lot of space but I've learned it's not so much :) From yesterday's batch I have one small baggie of watermelon, and two larger quantities but not that much of pears and apples. I still have bananas, strawberries, and pineapple to do. I think I went overboard on my experimentation. I can see how timing would be everything because I put them in at 2pm yesterday. At 11pm yesterday when they weren't quite done yet (and some things can take in upwards of 12 hours) I lowered the temperature and went to bed. Everything was fine this morning, the watermelon was a bit overdone but not too bad and the rest seem perfect.
I have an excalibur dehydrator, it's the square sort. Don't dry berries with seeds in them like blackberries. They become like little stones.
Green peppers dry excellently. I also would buy 5lb bucket of peeled garlic from costco and slice them up (a mandolin is a necessity with a dehydrator, or maybe a food processor) and have garlic all year long. Just keep in mind that everyone in the house and your neighbor's houses will know you are drying garlic. Onions will make you cry for several hours.
Don't forget you can make "crackers" if you use a seed that's mucilagenous(sp) like flax to "glue" it together with other grains and herbs. Spread it on the silicone sheet.
I used to make a flourless pemmican with dates, dried apples and jerky and give it just a little time in the dehydrator to firm up. Keeps forever in the freezer and is great for hiking.
You can make really great meals for camping. I would cook noodles, then dehydrate them and pair with dehydrated spaghetti sauce and veggies.
Don't forget to blanch or slightly cook your harder veggies before dehydrating. It also depends if you plan to cook these veggies when you use them, or only soak them in hot water (as you would for camping).
Oh, I would also cook and dehydrate foods that have long cooking times like rice and quinoa. Sometimes you just want a quick meal now.
Wow Phoo. Your post just might inspire me to break mine out and try some new stuff. Jburg, I like the dog yams idea. Maybe I will try that this weekend with beef broth instehad of just water.
Oh, I have tried cooking and dehydrating beans. It works, but your beans will never be whole again - more like chunky refried beans. This is fine for chili, but not so fine if you were going to put black beans in an omelet.
Apple: I've been thinking about having another round with my dehydrator soon myself. Dehydrated apples are delicious and dehydrated carrots are handy. It's great to keep all the basic ingredients of soup on hand. When I first got my dehydrator I hand cut 25lbs of carrots. Never ever again. Use a mandolin people if you don't want your wrist to be crippled for a few days. :)
Also, when doing a fruit rollup from applesauce, you might want to add some peach. Just buy a can of peaches and blend it up. It's very intense by itself, but you can add it to the apple for an extra delicious pop (it's also cheaper that way since applesauce costs less). Remember to spread it thin and evenly or it'll take forever to dry and you could end up with a crunchy side and a gooshy side.
I was just checking our pear tree and it looks like another good year. We always can a bunch, but those ginger pears sound like the food of gods. Gotta get me a dehydrator.
I think I didn't put enough ginger on the pears. I probably should have used a finer grater, too. I did 6 pears and they are all gone! The apples turned out ok too.
Today I have bananas, strawberries, and pineapple in there. The bananas and pineapple got dipped in sugar syrup with honey and then I sprinkled cinnamon on them. We'll see how it works out :) The house smells quite a bit like bananas foster.
if anyone is spanned up their dehydrator, give me a holler. I have some and cow knuckle meat I was hoping to dry out
I got me a five knuckle span on mah dee hydraiter yes sir. Yew gotta put up with a whole hoof gain fer evera damn head yew spit out if yew kin handle it.
Don't tell me Grocery Outlet had a special on cow knuckle meat?
And don't forget! Dehydrated stuff is great for camping. Sauces, meats, veggies, lots of stuff can be done up and carried lightly and prepared on your stove for a great meal that was light to carry.
And of course, we all know about dehydrating water. Man does that save weight in the ol' backpack!!!!
Haven't tried dehydrating fuel for the stove yet. Hmmmmmm. <grin>
I do hope no one takes that last sentence seriously??? Please??? <bigger grin>
I haven't tried dehydrating fuel for the stove, but I do use my stove for dehydrating.
it came w/ a drying rack and you can set it to 145 degrees F, then use a small lever to pin the door slightly ajar.
my favorites are tomatoes--I love waking up in the early fall when our entire house smells of drying tomatoes which often take 12 hrs (depending on how you slice 'em of course).
The Excalibur dehydrator is the Cadillac of dehydrators.
I ground coarse sea salt up with celery and dried that. Then I ground it again. You could also do garlic, fennel, or onion. Yuum.
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