Dehydrating Fruits/Veggies and Other Things

English: Electrical food dehydrator consist of...

English: Electrical food dehydrator consist of a hot air generating unit that blows hot air through trays that contain items being hehydrated. This model has stackable plastic trays and adjustable drying temperature for different types of foods. In the picture mango and papaya slices are being dried. Dried slices can be stored in a plastic bag in room temperature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here we are again with another week of “putting up” the wonderful veggies and fruits. Thought I would share some dehydrating tips and also for rehydrating your goodies.

It is peach season and the peaches from the boot heel of Missouri are the finest.  Not to mention the wonderful different melon varieties coming in season, along with California sweet onions, peppers of every color and heat, wonderful peaches ‘n cream sweet corn, and the list goes on and on. God’s many blessings are endless. He has given us such variety for the needs of our bodies. And nothing can match the sweet and the delectable taste of every morsel of good home grown organic food.

The advantages of food dehydration is that you are able to reduce spoilage and increase a food’s storage life. It is always best to keep your dried foods in a cool, dry location and not in direct sunlight. When the moisture is removed the foods are easier to transport like when you are hiking and camping. And then you have foods that take on an entirely different property when dried. Such as grapes become raisins, plums become prunes, fruit puree’s  become fruit leather and so on.

Drying can be accomplished in a variety of ways. I have an electric home dehydrator that I use but many times I will dry my herbs hanging them upside down in a cool place away from direct sunlight. And there are many kinds to choose from….search to find the one that will work best for you and your family.

Essential equipment

  •  you will need airtight containers like glass jars, metal canisters, or plastic storage ware.
  • colander made from a heat resistant material such as stainless steel
  • you can get fine mesh tray liners to keep food from sticking
  • heatproof metal strainer
  • parchment paper can be used in place of specialized leather sheets to protect foods from sticking
  • sharp knives, vegetable peeler, kitchen scissors (to cut up dried foods into smaller pieces)
  • leather or fruit roll sheets if you choose to not use parchment paper
  • using a mandoline will help slice veggies and fruits very thin for easier drying

fruit fresh or can use a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice to 4 cups water to prevent from browning                                                                                                                                                                                           

Fruits and vegetables from a farmers market. c...

Dried Food

Dried Food (Photo credit: Caitlinator)

Other Things to Consider     

You cannot simply touch the surface of the food to determine if it is completely dry. For instance, sliced apples are firm and leathery. Grated carrots will become brittle. Some fruits with high sugar content such as grapes will be more pliable. When you aren’t sure just break or tear a piece and squeeze the flesh. No liquid should come to the surface. It is better to over dry than under dry and risk spoilage.

You can use your oven to dry foods in but not always the most cost effective. And you are heating up your kitchen in the middle of hot summer days. There are solar dryers also…such as putting two screens together and laying the herbs in between them and allowing air to pass through.  

Rehydration

Dried berries and pieces of fruit can be eaten as a snack as is…dried cucumber slices can be used with dips. Dried tomatoes are best when placed in a heated liquid such as a stew.  Remember also that when you rehydrate your goodies they will not regain the same moisture level or texture of the original fresh product.  It will be slightly different but should be tender and easy to eat.

A Few Recipes To Try

Basil: Remove leaves from large stems. Place on drying trays. Dry at 110 degrees for 16-18 hours. 

Garlic: Peel cloves and cut lengthwise into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Place on trays and dry 130 degrees for 10-12 hours. Slices will be leathery but pliable. You may want to dehydrate these in a well ventilated room or in the garage. They are very aromatic.

Peaches: Peel off skin if desired. Cut into lengthwise wedges about 1/4 inch thick. To prevent browning dip your peach slices in the lemon juice/water. Drain well. Dry on drying tray at 130 degrees for 10-12 hours. The slices should feel dry and leathery but pliable.

Strawberries:  Hull strawberries and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Place cut side up on drying tray. Dry at 130 degrees for 14-16 hours. They will be leathery and no juice should come through.      

Broccoli: Break into 1 inch florets. Discard stems or reserve for another use. Place on mesh drying tray. Dry at 130 degrees for 6-8 hours. They will be dry and crisp.

 Peel potatoes and cut crosswise into slices 1/8 thick. Place on mesh drying tray. Dry at 130 degrees for 8-10 hours. They will be crisp.

Corn: Cut corn off of the cobs. Spread on drying trays. Dry at 130 degrees for 10-12 hours. Corn will be shriveled and brittle.

Tomatoes: Cut tomatoes into 8 to 12 wedges depending on size. Place skin side down on drying tray. Dry at 130 degrees for 20-24 hours. Wedges will be dry and pliable. I personally like to slice my tomatoes thin for drying.

Zucchini and Summer Squash: Trim your squash and cut crosswise into slices about 1/4 inch thick.  Do not peel. Place on drying trays. Dry at 130 degrees for 8-10 hours. They will feel dry and crisp.

Vegetable Soup Mix: 1/2 cup dried corn kernels, 1/2 cup dried carrot pieces, 1 Tablespoon dried celery, 1 Tablespoon dried onion, 1/4 cup dried bell pepper pieces, 1 tsp. dried parsley, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried garlic, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 cup dried lentils. In a jar or bag…add this mixture together. Seal tightly at room temperature for up to 6 months.  In large pot, combine your soup mix and 9 cups water over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stir occasionally for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and flavor is well blended.

Bread Crumbs: Cut bread, buns or rolls into slices. about 1/2 inch thick. Place on drying tray. Dry at 155 degrees for 3 hours. Store in a bowl after putting the bread into food processor. You may add herbs to make your bread crumbs more flavorful.

Yogurt: Use low fat yogurt. Stir until smooth and blended. Spread out onto tray with parchment paper lining. Dry at 130 degrees for 12-14 hours. If possible, flip over after about 8 hours or once the yogurt is easy to lift from the sheets. This will speed up drying time.

Fish: low fat fish fillets, such as cod, ocean perch, northern pike, trout, bass. Salmon is unsuitable due to fat content and storing at room temperature. If you use Salmon…store in fridge for up to one month or in freezer for up to 6 months.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I know my dehydrator is always going through the summer and fall. Get a good book on dehydrating and it won’t take you long to master this extraordinary way of putting food up.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanne
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 11:18:13

    Oh I try drying a lot of stuff especially my herbs I dry and then grind them all together delicious

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Nine Things to Consider When Storing Organic Food | Recipes for a Healthy You

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