Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My dehydrator dreams

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama
For my husband's birthday this year, I bought him a dehydrator and a set of beef jerky spices.  The set even came with a tool, not unlike a caulk gun, to make the beef jerky into strips or tubes.  My husband was way more excited over this gift than I had anticipated.  To be honest, I thought that he would open it, try it once or twice and then forget about it.  So when I ordered our his dehydrator, I also purchased the fruit roll up trays... it's true.  I bought him a gift and have every single intention of using it myself.
Holy packaging, Batman!  

I'm not one for having a bunch of specialized kitchen appliances.  Just because I have the storage does mean I want it packed to the gills.  BUT, I also don't want my oven running all night so someone can make beef jerky or dry cranberries.  (By the way, drying cranberries in the oven was an awful mess.  I had them in there for 27 hours and they never actually dried.  I ate them anyway.  I felt guilty for wasting all that electricity.)

I have plans for that dehydrator, once my husband stops making jerky every weekend.  I had not realized the full impact of his enthusiasm and the power that dried meat has over men.  I also had not ever actually tasted beef jerky.  Or turkey jerky.  Or deer jerky.  Don't tell anyone, but the last batch of jerky he made dwindled quicker than he thought it would largely due to me sneaking pieces to snack on with apples and cheese in the afternoon.  Shhhh!  But without further ado, here are my top 5 plans for dehydrated snacks!

  • Right now, in my fridge sits a quart of strawberries waiting to make these.  I'm very excited.   Who doesn't love fruit roll-ups?!
  • Who needs to pay 6 dollars a pound for banana chips?  I can't wait to do pears and apples too.
  • Kale Chips.  I love kale in a salad, but am terrified to try making chips in the oven.  
  • I need to do some actual hunting for tips on this, but I think I'd like to try drying my own herbs this year in the dehydrator.  Specifically chives and parsley.
  • Dog Treats!!!  They are our best friends, right?   
Do you have a dehydrator?  What do you use it for?


Truffula said...

I'm still coveting an Excalibur, but for the meanwhile, my Freecycle very-off-brand model is kickin' along. We use it for making the Healthy Home Economist's cold cereal, kale chips, crispy nuts, and dried tomatoes, peaches, bell peppers, and that's all that comes to mind right now.

Anonymous said...

Apples! Those are my favorite in the dehydrator. Cranberries will dry better if you poke a hole in them with a skewer after a while on the dehydrator. I tried raspberries.... bad results. You can do corn as well. Bananas are easy but we don't like them. They tend to brown so toss them with some orange juice to reduce that.

Laura said...

Truffula: Peppers!! I could make my own spice mixes! You. are. genius!

Anon: Thanks for the tip on cranberries... I am going to try that next time!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I would love, love, love to have a dehydrator -- I would buy up produce en masse when cheap at the farmer's market and preserve it all myself. I remember making fruit roll ups (in the oven) with my neighbor when I was little.

Rosa said...

Apples! So many apples, bushels and bushels of apples. Run 'em through the corer-peeler and you get slices that are perfect to dry. I did winter squash rings when my son was a toddler, but no grown people really like them. Summer squash chips are OK if they're salty.

My actual favorites are peaches or apricots dipped in lime juice before they're dried, but we don't really grow peaches up here so I only do a batch if they get sold off cheap because of bruises or something. Used to dry a lot more of them in my dumpster-diving days.

Also any free, sour fruit - tiny local plums or crabapples come my way most often - makes good fruit leather if you mix it with plain applesauce.

SharleneT said...

I've dehydrated for years and do almost everything. Fruits and veggies that are not uniform in shape get powdered, mixed together, and used for thickening sauces, etc. Also, herbs (not chives) Have powdered my tomatoes for years. Makes super fresh ketchup, pastes, sauces, etc. Also have them in slices and flakes for different uses. A bushel can fit in a 1-qt jar and doesn't break down the shelves.


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