Every gardening season, we have an over-abundance of vegetables in the garden. We can and dehydrate everything that we don’t eat fresh. Some of the favorites in our household are “sun-dried” tomatoes, zucchini chips, watermelon chips, fruit roll-ups and jerky. We also use our dehydrator for rising bread and for making yogurt. (This only works in the box dehydrators like the Excalibur.)
Here is a link to the Excalubur dehydrator that I have on Amazon (about $199): http://amzn.to/29ohJKJ
What is Food Dehydrating? (http://www.rhubarb-central.com/why-dehydrate-food.html)
Dehydrating food is a method of preserving fruits, vegetables, meats, and other food by removing the moisture from the food. Drying food helps prevent the growth of microorganisms and decay of the food, and increases the “shelf life” of the food.
What Types of Food Can be Dehydrated?
Fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs, flowers, bread (for bread crumbs), and pet treats, are examples of foods which can be dried. You can dehydrate almost anything that contains water!
Can I Dry Different Foods Together in the Same Dehydrator?
Yes, you can dry, for example, various fruits together, different vegetables together, etc., and the flavors should not mix. However, it is not advisable to dry onions with any other food.
Does Drying Food Destroy the Nutritional Value Foods?
Sources suggest that a minimal loss of nutrients occurs during the food dehydration process, however about 90% of the vitamins and minerals will be retained. When using a higher heat temperature, the foods will dry faster, but this will also result in more nutrient loss.
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate Food?
The time to dry food depends on the type of food, quantity, and the capabilities of the dehydrator.
Do I Need to Pre-treat Foods Before Hydrating Them?
Pre-treating foods may enhance the color and flavor of certain foods, but it is not necessary to pre-treat foods. If desired, options are dipping, blanching and marinating. Apples and pears can be pre-treated to help prevent them from oxidizing when exposed to air, and turning a brownish color.
How Do I Store Dried Foods?
Always store dehydrated food in airtight containers or bags. Store the containers or bags in a cool, dry place, away from light and humidity.
How Long Can Dried Foods be Stored?
For the best appearance, and the optimum nutritional value, dried food should be stored for a maximum of one year. Vacuum packaging extends the “shelf life”. Refrigeration or freezing of dried food will double or triple the “shelf life”.
Can I “Powder” My Dehydrated Foods?
Yes, you may wish to “powder” certain foods, such as onion, garlic, tomatoes, etc. Dried food can be processed in a blender or a food processor to the desired texture, for use in sauces, pastes, and seasonings. If desired, options are dipping, blanching and marinating. Apples and pears can be pre-treated to help prevent them from oxidizing when exposed to air, and turning a brownish color.
Here are five basic food dehydrating tips that you should keep in mind.
1. Make sure you have the right temperature:
The temperature and time required to adequately dehydrate will vary depending on the type of dehydrator you buy, as well as the food you want to dehydrate. General time and temperature guidelines will be printed on the dehydrator label or included in the instruction manual along with suggested times needed.
2. Make sure foods are 95% dehydrated:
In order to be stored properly, foods need to be at least 95 percent dehydrated. If your items feel soft, spongy or sticky, put them back in the dehydrator for additional time. Hard and crunchy or breakable pieces are done. High indoor humidity, air conditioning or breezes may alter the time needed to dehydrate foods. Ideally, find a dry, warm place away from air vents and windows to set up your dehydrator.
3. Don’t try to dry foods quicker:
Do not worry about over-drying your foods. You can dry them longer if necessary, but it’s not wise to turn the temperature settings up in an attempt to dry the foods quicker. This will seal the outside, leaving moisture within, which will ultimately lead to the food spoiling before you have a chance to eat it.
4. Preparation is key:
Before you add dehydrate anything, make sure you thoroughly wash all foods with an anti-bacterial vegetable cleaner. Wear gloves when preparing foods to avoid getting skin oils on the food. Steam all low-acid vegetables for 10 minutes prior to dehydrating. After they have been steamed, pat them dry before placing them in the food dehydrator. Spritz bananas and apples with lemon juice to avoid browning.
5. Become more efficient
Just like you’re using an oven, it is wise to turn on the dehydrator prior to use to allow it to warm up to the required temperature before adding food. Prepare items that require the same temperature, and dehydrate at the same time. For best results, slice all items to equal thickness and size.
Simple Dehydrator Recipes
- Remove the rind and cut the watermelon in desired shapes and sizes.
- Place the watermelon on the mesh sheets that come with the dehydrator.
- Dry at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, then reduce to 115 degrees (F) for 6-8 hours or until dry.
The dry time will vary depending on the machine you are using, the climate you live in, humidity and how full the dehydrator is. It will also depend on thick or thin you cut the pieces.
- Store in an airtight container for 3-12 months.
Meat Jerky (You can use beef, pork, venison, elk, buffalo, etc.
- Cut meat into 3/16 inch thickness
- Combine all ingredients into a bowl making sure meat is completely covered in marinade.
- Cover for 4-10 hours.
- Place on Excalibur dehydrator trays and dry at 155F until meat cracks. This takes approximately 6-8 hours.
Dehydrated Tomatoes Recipe
- Wash and slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick
- Add 1 gram of pure absorbic acid (vitamin C) to a bowl of water
- Submerge the tomatoes in this water for about 3-4 minutes – this helps preserve the color
- Remove the tomoatoes from the water
- Place slices on Excalibur Dehydrator trays
- Dry at 135 degree F for 7-8 hours or until dry
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container
Dehydrated Potatoes Recipe
- Peel potatoes (optional) and slice crosswise 1/8″ inch thick or dice into 3/8″ cubes
- Then boil for 5-10 minutes. Allow the potatoes to cool
- Next, place in a single layer on a Paraflexx lined Excalibur Dehydrator tray
- Season with salt and pepper if desired
- Dry at 125 degrees F for 6-8 hours
Dehydrating Eggs (http://bigredcouch.com/journal/?p=3923)
1 tbsp of the egg powder to 2 tbsp water
- Scramble 1 dozen eggs without any oil or butter.
- Once fully scrambled, place eggs on dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 12 hours at 145 degrees.
- Once dehydrated, place eggs into blender or food processor and blend until a fine powder.
- Once blended, place powder into a jar.
- Pour milk into saucepan, heat over medium until temperature reaches 185°F-195°F.
- Cool milk to about 100-115 degrees F. Whisk in yogurt with active cultures. Make sure yogurt is mixed in well with milk.
- Transfer mixture into glass jars, and close with lids.
- Remove all trays from dehydrator and place jars inside.
- Dehydrate for 8 to 10 hours. Do not stir or check yogurt during this time.
- Once dehydrating is done, place in fridge. Yogurt will thicken as it cools.
Websites with dehydrating recipes: