Dehydrating Tips

Preparing Food

  1. Try to slice or cut food all the same size so it will dry at approximately the same time.  Make thin, flat cuts.
  1. Don’t slice food too thin.  ¼-1/2 “ thickness is perfect.
  1. The larger the cut area, the faster and better the food dehydrates since moisture escapes best from a cut or broken surface. 
  1. Thin stalked vegetables like green beans, asparagus or rhubarb should be cut in half the long way or with an extreme diagonal cut.  Fruit should be sliced across the core.  Place these cut side up on the tray. 
  1. Small fruits like strawberries can be cut in half, while even smaller berries should either be cut in half or blanched slightly to break the skin.
  1. Waxy skinned fruits (i.e. – cherries, grapes, plums and blueberries must have their skins poked or pitted and will take 1-2 days to dehydrate depending on their size.
  1. The peel of fruits and vegetables contain much of the nutritional value.  It is better not to peel, if the dried food is to be eaten as a snack.  If you are using apples in a pie or tomatoes for soup you will want to peel before dehydrating.
  1. Once food has been cut or sliced fill the drying trays by arranging slices in a single layer with a little space between slices.  Some tray holes must always be left uncovered for good air circulation.
  1.  Some foods vegetables, like beans, corn, peas and broccoli must be steam blanched before drying.  Steam blanching may take from 30 – 90 seconds.
  1.  Fruits that turn brown when exposed to air, (apples, peaches, bananas or pears) can be dipped in solutions of orange, pineapple or lemon juice or ascorbic acid or approximately two minutes prior to drying.  Drain on paper towel before placing on tray. 

Filling Trays

  1. Food shrinkage during dehydration may cause smaller foods to fall through holes in the drying trays.  To prevent this from happening, line trays with mesh inserts.
  1. To dry chopped or shredded foods, spread on mesh inserts.  Food should not be spread thicker than 3/8 inch.  Use a fork to expose the mesh insert in several places to provide proper air circulation. 
  1. Some foods such as very ripe tomatoes, citrus or sugared fruits may drip.  After placing food on drying trays tap tray firmly on a towel to remove excess moisture.  To catch remaining overflow, use fruit leather sheets on the bottom two trays.  Alternate sheets on one half or each of the bottom trays  When the food stops dripping, remove the fruit leather sheets from the bottom two trays.
  1. Do not cover the center hole in the lid or trays. 
  1. Chili, stews, casseroles, etc may be dried on fruit leather sheets an stored up to 3 months.

Dehydration Process

  1. There is not a set time limit for drying foods.  It depends on the type of food, how thick it is sliced, and the amount of water in the food.
  1. When food is dried the flavors and sugars concentrate so the dried food has a much stronger flavor than fresh.
  1. When using more than 4 trays periodic rotation will give optimum results. (Not applicable with the Pressairizer Dehydrator)
  1. Do not add seasonings or spices to vegetables until they are reconstituted and cooked. 

Storing Dried Foods

  1. Allow dehydrated food to cool thoroughly.
  1. Dried food should be stored in a cool dry, dark place. 
  1. Use clean, air-tight and moisture-proof containers.  Do not use cloth bags, lightweight plastic bags, bread wrappers or any container without a air-tight fitting lid.  Heavy, zippered plastics bags or heat sealed bags are excellent.
  1. Dried fruits and vegetables should not be stored longer than one year.  Dried meats, fish, poultry or jerky should be used within a month or two. 
  1. Many vegetables may be powdered.  Tomatoes powdered and added to water make great tomato sauce for pizzas, etc.

Reconstitution

  1. To reconstitute most foods soak in water 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size, and use.  Foods that take longest to dehydrate will take the longest to reconstitute. 
  1. Liquid from reconstituting food has great nutritional value.  Use in soups, leathers, pies, etc. 
  1. To reconstitute chili or stew add hot water and let sit 15 minutes.

Dehydrator Recipes

Fruit Leather or Fruit Roll-Ups

Place fruit in a blender.  I use the softer fruits that might be a little overripe to make the fruit leather.  Puree the fruit for 10 to 15 sections until you have a puree.  For every cup of puree add 1 Tbsp. of honey.  You also may add 1/2 tsp. lemon juice if the fruit oxidizes and turns brown quickly, like bananas, apples or peaches etc.  Pour onto pre-greased or sprayed fruit leather trays ( I spray with vegelene but Pam or even margarine will work), until you have 1/4 inch thick and evenly spread over the fruit leather trays.  Let dry 7 to 10 hours depending on what kind of fruit being used or what type of food dryer you are using.

 

Cream of Broccoli Soup – Carol Stiles
1 cup dried broccoli  (Powder broccoli in the blender)
White Sauce
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup flour
2-3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

 

In a saucepan melt butter or margarine and ad flour stirring with a whisk so there are no lumps.  Remove from stove and slowly add milk, stirring to make sure you do not burn mixture and that there are no lumps.  Turn heat down to medium low and keep stirring until mixture thickens.  Add powdered broccoli and let sit 10-15 minutes.

 

Carol’s Jerky – Carol Stiles
 1 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 drops liquid smoke   2 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ lb thinly sliced steak

Place all ingredients in a container with a lid and let marinate in the fridge about 8 hours.  Place drained meat in the dehydrator and dry 6-8 hours until meat is dry and has no pockets of moisture.  Jerky will store up to 6 months in a sealed plastic bag or tight-fitting container.

Carol’s Favorite Chili – Carol Stiles
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped (or ¼ cup dried onion)
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 small can tomato past
1 lg. can kidney or red chili beans
3 Tbsp chili powder

In a hot skilled, brown ground beef, chopped onion and garlic.  Let cook until onions are tender and beef is well-browned.  Pour off excess fat.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste, beans and chili powder.  Let cook approximately 1 hour until flavors are well blended.  Let cool.  Mixture will thicken as it cools  Place chili on fruit leather sheets in dehydrator.  Let dry 8-10 hours until crisp or brittle.   Place in air-tight container or plastic bag.  Will keep up to 3 months.

To use place chili in saucepan and add enough boiling water to cover the chili.  Place lid on pot and let sit 10-15 minutes.

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