Are you dehydrating foods yet? If not, it’s a good idea to get started testing out dehydrations systems and recipes before the harvest bounty pours in. You’ll have your hands full once your garden is in full swing. Until then, you can try drying smaller batches of foods and different dehydrator recipes and methods, so that when you’re up to your elbows in garden harvests, you’ll have a plan ready to go.
Whether you need to dehydrate for preparedness food storage, surplus garden harvest, or just that great deal on favorite fruits and vegetable at the grocer or Farmer’s Market, dehydrated food can be a great way to save and store food.
Dried fruits and foods are expensive to buy, so if you’re growing your own fruits and vegetables, or just taking advantages of good sales on in-season foods, dehydrating foods isn’t hard. It does take some time, but so does grocery shopping. So making up large batches at a time, then packaging them up in airtight containers make for a well-rounded, well stocked pantry that saves LOTS of money over the price you’d pay for the same kind of items at the grocer.
Why and How to Store Vegetables
Dehydrated foods make convenient snacks for travel, work and school, hiking, camping, biking, and a perfect solution for harvest times when the freezer is full and you’re running out of room in the pantry. Not only does dehydrated food take up less storage space but there some foods you may even prefer dehydrated, like fruit leather and tomatoes. Another good use of surplus garden veggies is to make your own dehydrated vegetable soup mix.
You’ll want to know how to make your own solar dehydrator in case of emergencies. We’ve written an article on this you may want to peruse, which we’ll post again at the end.1)https://gardensall.com/how-to-build-a-solar-food-dehydrator/ Also, here’s a book on the topic by Eben Fodor, an organic gardener with a background in solar energy and engineering.
Meanwhile we have the current top rated electric dehydrator on Amazon. Our Nesco dehydrator functions fine, however we’ll be looking toward one with a bit more capacity for our next dehydrator investment.
We’re looking at either an Excalibur dehydrators for the next fall harvest season, when it’s a good time to dehydrate, can, pickle and ferment for winter. Or, we’re considering the oven dehydrator racks we’ll cover more in the next section.
Editor’s Note: If you have experience with either of these, please let us know so we can add that information to our deliberations as well as share it here for others.
Top Rated Excalibur Food Dehydrator
Lauren, a Gardens All Facebook community member, raves about her Tribest Sedona dehydrator:
“I have a Sedona SD-P9000 and I love it! Have had it since 2012 and it works great! After much research, I found it has many advantages over the Excalibur.”
At the end of this article is a video comparing Excalibur and Sedona dehydrators. But first…
Non-Electric Food Dehydration
This image from Shorpy.com of 1940’s food dehydration looks like an early stovetop version of the Excalibur.2)http://www.shorpy.com/node/16364?size=_original She’s drying a tray of blanched pencil pod beans on the dryer on top of a coal and wood burning range. The beans will dehydrate in the dryer. Also a tin tray of plums waiting to turn into prunes.
Stove top and oven dehydrators for a gas oven or stove are harder to come by these days. However, we’ve found an oven dehydration rack for drying food inside the oven. It’s three drying racks plus a catcher tray, especially important for making juicy or drippy things like homemade beef jerky.
The other option for natural food dehydration are these solar dryers that you can hang outside, yet they keep the bugs off.
And this horticulture dehydrator is the best option for drying herbs.
Or this enclosed herb dehydrator:
Now let’s get you dehydrating!
10 Tips for Better Food Dehydration
1. To keep apples from discoloring, rinse apple rings or thin slices in a mixture of lemon juice and cold water. We add 100% coconut water to our lemon juice to keep it from being tart without having to add sugar.
2. Dehydrating food is great for people who like to hike and camp because it often reduces the weight of a given food from 50 to 90 percent.
3. You can dehydrate tomato sauce from a jar and it will resemble a fruit roll up. It is a compact way to bring marinara sauce on a camping trip, which can easily be rehydrated with water. Think of how much weight and space is saved from carrying a bulky 16 ounce jar!
Editor’s Note: Of course you’ll have to consider the weight in water needed for rehydration, or… pack one of these essential “LifeStraws” for collecting water as you go when you can.
5. Vegetables should be at their peak flavor and ripeness if you are going to dehydrate them.
6. Blanch vegetables before dehydrating. This kills any potential bacteria.
8. Dipping fruits in lemon, orange or pineapple juice helps avoid discoloration of most fruits.
9. Before dehydrating tomatoes, dip into boiling water and loosen the skins. Peel and slice tomatoes and then dehydrate. They will become nice and crisp.
10. Slice fruits and vegetables the same thickness so they dehydrate as evenly as possible during the process.
Now, for over 40 dehydrating recipes starting with a recipe for making fruit leather.
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