I’ve had a dehydrator for years and only used it occasionally but this year is different. Our garden has done so well that I have had way more produce than I can freeze or can so I pulled out the dehydrator and started doing my research. I’ve discovered that you can use the dehydrator for more than I ever imagined. If you are ready to start dehydrating food, keep reading for some of what I have learned and get ready to start a brand new adventure!
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Beginners Guide to Dehydrating Food
This season has been so rewarding as I dived into this world of dehydrating food. Not only am I able to preserve some fruits and vegetables for winter but I am also saving space in my freezer. My family has teased me a bit as I have tried dehydrating squash, tomato skins, apple peelings, blueberries, basil, zucchini, carrots, bread and everything else.
Let it Dry Completely
It takes a long time to dehydrate food in the dehydrator but it is well worth it. Find a place in your garage or basement and let the dehydrator run for hours. I regularly let mine run all night and then check on the food the next morning. Some food may take 24-48 hours to fully dehydrate.
If you have any moisture remaining in your dehydrated foods when you store it, you may end up with mold or food spoilage. Don’t rush the process!
I have dehydrated a little bit of everything. Some things are a definite hit and others not so much. We discovered that we love apple chips! After I made an apple pie this past week, I tried to dehydrate the peelings and found a new favorite!
But I also discovered that I am not a fan of dehydrated broccoli. Broccoli really does have a strong smell while it’s drying. The only way to discover whether you like it or not is to just try!
Rehydrate before Cooking
I had some baby carrots in the refrigerator a few weeks ago that we weren’t going to eat. I didn’t want them to go bad so I chopped them up and dehydrated them. They shriveled up to tiny little pieces of hard carrots and looked like little rocks. But I was pleasantly surprised that when I made a roast last week and needed carrots, they rehydrated and turned out tender and delicious!
Many of these foods will plump right back to almost pre-dehydrated form when soaked in water.
Dried Food Takes Less Space
When you dehydrate food you reduce the space needed for storage. Dried food gets smaller and takes up much less space. I had a bumper crop of zucchini and squash so I tried dehydrating some of it and fill several glass jars. Now I have the makings for zucchini bread or squash casserole without taking up space in my freezer.
Stackable Trays & Thermostat
I purchased a Nesco dehydrator about 10 years ago and am still super satisfied with it. It has stackable trays so I can dehydrate as much or as little as I want as well as an adjustable thermostat so I can dehydrate a range of foods, from meat for jerky to herbs, fruits and vegetables. You can also buy additional fruit trays for rollups, soups or sauces. Look for these options when you purchase a dehydrator.
Have you ever tried to dehdrate fruits and vegetables? Got any tips or experiences to share?