I must admit that I haven’t used my food dehydrator in quite some time. It’s been sitting above my cupboards collecting dust.
Drying food takes hours and my impatience gets the best of me.
As far as prepping food for drying, it couldn’t be easier. Usually I just set mushrooms, grapes, or whatever sparks my fancy; right on the trays whole. Other things require a small amount of prep work.
Drying food has been practiced since ancient times. Initially, salting and drying in the sun, an open room or on stove tops were common methods. It wasn’t until 1795 that the first dehydrator was introduced in France.
It’s a great way of storing foods that you buy in bulk, on sale, or from your abundant garden harvest.
When foods are sufficiently dehydrated (dried), microorganisms cannot grow and foods will not spoil. (No mold, yeast, or bacteria.)
Dried vegetables may be added to soups, stews or casseroles. Also, dried foods are ideal for camping.
It’s good to keep in mind, that some of the nutritive value of the food is affected by the dehydration process.
Oven drying is the most practical way to experiment with dehydration, but because of the energy costs, I recommend getting a multi-tray dehydrator. You can find them for as little as $30.00 if you shop around.
When using a dehydrator, load food on trays in single layers so that pieces do not overlap. This allows air to circulate through the trays.
Vegetables usually take six to 16 hours to dry. Fruits can require up to 48 hours.
Leathery vegetables will be pliable and spring back if folded. Corn and peas become like hollow little balls that will actually shatter if struck hard enough!
Fruits are adequately dried when moisture cannot be squeezed from them. Fruit leathers may be slightly sticky to the touch.
Meats should be extremely dry. Meat is sufficiently dried when it is dark in color, and form sharp edges when broken or ripped. Herbs are dried when brittle.
Make sure you store dried goods in an air-tight container. I usually just use old jars.
Here are some good recipes to try:
Hamburger Beef Jerky (I don’t eat meat anymore, but my family does!)
2 lbs 90% lean ground beef (90-92%)
1 7/8 teaspoons non-iodized salt
1 teaspoon Accent seasoning
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon meat tenderizer
1/3 tablespoon black pepper
1 1/4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke
1/4 cup Ketchup
Mix everything together REALLY well.
Roll between two sheets wax paper until it is ¼-1/8 inch thick.
Place on trays to dry. (Usually 15-24 hours)
Easy fruit roll-ups
2 quarts applesauce or fruit puree
1 (3 ounce) box of any flavor sugar-free Jello
Spread in food dehydrator on a fruit leather tray or plastic wrapped tray.
Dry until no wet spots are left.
Tomato, basil, and flax crackers from “The everything raw foods cookbook”
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato
2 cups flax seeds
4 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Soak sunflower seeds in water for 4 hours. Soak sun-dried tomatoes for 3 hours.
Grind flax into coarse powder.
Process sunflower seeds, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, dates, jalapeno pepper, olive oil, and salt in food processor.
Add tomato, basil and ground flax and pulse until well-mixed.
Spread mixture about 1/4-inch thick onto dehydrator trays with nonstick sheets.
Dehydrate at 145F for 2 hours.
Cut into cracker-sized pieces.
Turn over and dehydrate at 115F for an additional 8 hours.