Tuesday, April 5, 2011

“D” Is for Dehydrating

Dehydrated bananas, cranberries and pineapples, photo copyright Theresa Leschmann
Dehydrating foods is the act of removing moisture from food in order to preserve it. Moisture together with exposure to air is what leads to food spoilage. People have been using drying techniques for hundreds of years. Today, as I struggle make my budget work and still serve wholesome, natural foods to my family; dehydrating has become part of my routine.
Dehydrating foods allows to grow my own foods or stock up on them when they are in season and preserve them for use later in the year when they are no longer abundantly available and therefore cost a small fortune at the grocery store. Take for instance blueberries. In June and July, you can get them everywhere, even indulge in a little agrotourism and visit a local U-Pick. By October, you can buy bags of frozen blueberries or pay upwards of $4/pint in the grocery store for fresh. Dehydrated blueberries will never reconstitute to their fresh state but you can still enjoy the flavor in numerous ways.
Dehydrated fruits can be used for baking, trial and snack mixes, even added to cold cereals. Dried vegetables are perfect for adding to soups stews, slow-cooked meals and roasts. Dried meats are often used as snacks, such as jerkies. There are endless possibilities
If you can provide low humidity and heat, you can dry food almost anywhere. Think about sun-dried tomatoes. These are dried in the sun, exposed to the warm air. Humid locates require different measures. Food drying can be done in the oven providing you can set the temperature to lower than 200 degrees. Many foods are dried at around 170 degrees. Too hot and you begin to cook the foods. There isn’t much air flow in the oven so you have to watch the process carefully, turning the food periodically.
If you have $30 o so, you can buy a simple dehydrator. You can sometimes find them at yard sales and second hand shops too. Older models simply plugged into the wall and started heating. Newer models come with temperature settings. Either will do just fine.
Aside from the oven or a dehydrator, the only other thing you need is containers. Zipper-type storage bags are good. I recommend the freezer type for long term storage. Plastic or glass containers are also good providing you can achieve an air-tight seal. Mason jars filled with dehydrated foods make a lovely display across a counter or on a pantry shelf, in my opinion.
For more information on dehydrating you can read this article on dehydrating. Now all you need to do is buy some food and get started.
I am taking part in the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Be sure to check out my other blogs. You’ll find them listed on the side bar. You can also read the blogs of others taking part in the challenge by using the A to Z Challenge button on the side bar tool.


Keena said...

sounds like a lot of time and effort

umbrellalady said...

I love dehydrating fruits and vegetables - quick prep and into the dehydrator. The dehydrator does all the work - you just stick around to remove/or flip the food over. A good book or another project fills the time in-between.

Barely re-hydrated mangoes and blueberries are wonderful in muffins! And the fruit leather you can make from applesauce is handy, delicious and cheap to make!

Post a Comment

Circle 8 Anthologies Featuring my Short Stories

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | JCpenney Printable Coupons