Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables, has always held an interest for me. A few years ago I purchased a 7 layer dehydrator but did very little with it. At the time, I was working a full time job and not really thinking long term about my health as much as I should have been. A short time ago, I decided that it was time to get back to dehydrating my own fruits and vegetables. I really enjoy dried Mango, Papaya, Pineapple and bananas. This all works well with our home in Mexico because we have all those items plus coconut, and guava, That is when I discovered that my wife had given my dehydrator away to a friend.
This weekend I got a new one. It is only 5 layers but that will work just nicely. I don’t like to purchase dried fruit because most of the time, chemicals have been added to preserve it. Example, the next time you see a package of dried mango, look at the package, there is a good chance that it has been processed in Thailand. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with it, I just have a habit of asking “how long ago was it processes?” and “what are the health standards of the country where it is produced?” If I can’t answer those questions, then I just as soon pass and make my own.
Dehydration is a way that you can preserve meat, fruits and vegetables while also saving precious freezer space. The basics of dehydrating are pretty simple. You wash your food, cut it into pieces of the same size, put it in your dehydrator with spaces in between each piece, set the heat level, dry and store. Yes, it really is that simple. Even better while you’re food’s dehydrating you can attend to other tasks that you want to get done.
The Farmer’s Market
When dehydrating, as with all other culinary techniques, fresher is better. If you want that amazing taste like it just came from the farm, go where you can get good products, especially organics. Here you can buy in bulk, do one large batch of dehydrating and then have enough of your goods for the whole winter or longer.
What you need:
While you can use your oven or microwave for dehydrating, if you plan on doing a lot of it get yourself a multi-tiered dehydrator so you can do a lot of one item or several different items at the same time, which saves electricity. You’ll also need air tight storage units (zip bags work fine), a good kitchen knife, and labels. That’s pretty much it. A 700 watt round dehydrator with 7 levels goes for about $60; a 400 watt for $40. That is not a huge investment for safe preserving at home.
Besides saving storage space, there’s several other advantages to dehydrating. First, it helps create a waste-free kitchen. All those ends and pieces that normally get thrown out now get put to work. Carrot tops, celery ends, fruit rinds – all of it can be used in dry form for soups and sauces.
Second, you can pre-season your foods so that when you use the dehydrated form, there’s no spicing necessary. This is a great time saver.
Third, dehydrated goods make a great foundation for gift items when creating kitchen baskets during the holidays.
Forth: They are great snacks when you are trying to control you weight or you just like to eat healthy. Great to add to the school lunch box and/or an after school snack.
So how can you use the food you dehydrate? You can use it as it is for soups, stews, baking etc. bearing in mind that the dry item absorbs moisture, so adjust your recipe accordingly.
Make the item (like fruit) into leathers for a refreshing and healthy treat.
Once dehydrated, if properly stored dehydrated food stays fresh for at least a year.
For more information on the Food Dehydrator I am presently using, check out http://chefwilliamlikes.me/Food Dehydrators
For more exciting recipes check out Chef William’s Mexican cookbook at http://chefwilliamlikes.me/Traditional Mexican Fiesta Recipes
Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~