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DEHYDRATING as easy as 1, 2, 3…

October 15, 2012

This tray has about 2.5 peaches on it. The more trays, the better, I say

4, 5, 6, 7

A REMINDER – Commercially freeze dried and dehydrated foods can be purchased in bulk or in smaller quantities.

1a. PURCHASE A DEHYDRATOR – goin’ shopping, yeah. Check out the Dehydrator Book or Pleasant Hill Grain websites for great reviews. Then put your Internet shopping skills to work to find the best deal.

OR

1b. BORROW A DEHYDRATOR – phone a friend. If it’s not the peak of produce canning/dehydrating season, you may be able to wrangle a 24-hour loan on a dehydrator. You should still do your homework on the dehydrator reviews. Then, after experimenting, start saving for one of your own.

2a. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DEHYDRATOR, CLEAN UP the trays before using. A sink full of warm soapy water for soaking and light scrubbing removes sticky resedue that, when left unwashed, can become a permanent problem. Check manufacturer’s instructions for dish washer safe materials.

2b. GO TO THE DEHYDRATING  TIPS PAGE  on this website :).

3. CUT UP  fruits, veggies or meat- the thinner the slice, the faster the drying time. Peeling apples, pears and other thicker skinned fruits and veggies takes away the sensation of chewing the peel rather than the fruit. Pears also seem a little grainy with peel left on.

4.PRE -TREAT OR NOT??? Obviously, you will “pre-treat” meat in some type of salt cure – think jerky, There are great jerky recipes online. For fruit, there is much advice on pre-treating apples, pears, and peaches in a citric based solution such a 1 part lemon juice/1 part water. Ascorbic acid crystals can also be mixed in water for pre-treatment. The objective is to keep fruit from darkening during the dehydration process. If you’re not concerned about color, skip the pretreatment. My peaches look just fine.

As for apple slices, I use pineapple juice to pretreat. This not only helps keep a better color, it enhances the flavor. I learned this trick years ago in my daughter’s 4-H class as they pre-treated the fruit for their fruit salad. So go for the pineapple juice for fresh fruit salads as well!!

5. ARRANGE SLICED FOOD on trays, not overlapping or touching. Check your dehydrator instructions to see if tray rotation is recommended.

6.  START AND MONITOR THE DRYING PROCESS – follow manufacturer’s recommended drying times. Thicker slices may require more time, thinner, less. REMEMBER: the drier the product, the longer and better it will store (under proper conditions).  Fruits may be dry and still pliable. Vegetables should be dried to the BRITTLE STAGE.   The University of Colorado Extension drying guidelines page has information on how to test, condition, and store dried foods you expect to keep in the freezer or cool, dark storage for up to a year.

7. STORE and/or ENJOY! Dehydrated veggies save you a lot of chopping when making soups. They can also be powdered and used as flavoring in sauces and breads. Some veggies, when dried to BRITTLE chip stage, are great for snacking. Dried fruit also makes for great snacking alone or in trail mixes. In addition, it can be rehydrated and used in cereals, desserts and breads. To be sure, all dehydrated foods make for simpler, lighter camping and backpacking meals.

DON’T FORGET  – Commercially freeze dried and dehydrated foods can be purchased in bulk or in smaller quantities.

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