I recently purchased a food dehydrator. If you don’t have a clue what that is, it’s a machine with a heating element and a fan that you load up with some bits of food you want to dry out. You plug it in, turn it on and let it run for a few to many hours. It will dry out the food for long-term storage. I’ve had it for about three weeks, and I must say this thing is awesome. The model I bought came with:
- 8 trays
- 8 tray inserts for smaller items (Clean A Screen)
- 8 inserts for making fruit rolls (which I have not tried yet… soon)
- a packet of jerky cure + seasoning
- a nice book about drying foods
The first weekend, I planned to make jerky, but wasn’t ready with the meat on Saturday. No problem, I went outside, cut a bunch of chives and put them in. Twenty hours later and I have a pint container of chives that are nicely dried and should last us and a few other households until the plants are back in the spring.
On Sunday, the meat had had time to brine and/or cure, so I was ready. The dehydrator came with a packet of jerky cure for about a pound of meat. That left a few trays empty, so I decided to go with Alton Brown’s recipe for a few more pounds. Three pounds of flank steak and about 6 hours later, and we’re in jerky heaven. I’ve since ordered more of the jerky cure and plan to make more soon to replenish our already dwindling supply. That stuff is like crack. (Note: I did put the finished jerky in the oven at 225 degrees for 10 minutes to ensure bacterial extermination, safety first!)
On the second weekend, I decided I should use some of my dad’s corn since he has a metric crap-ton of the stuff growing in his gardens and was out of town. Better I get it than the deer/turkeys/raccoons… Thirteen ears of corn fit perfectly in the eight-trays, and condensed down to about a pint container once dehydrated. Now I have some delicious corn for soups and casseroles this winter.
Coincidentally, that same weekend, one of the limbs on our good apple tree cracked under the weight of this year’s overabundant harvest. We pulled about 40 pounds of apples from that twenty-foot limb; next weekend’s project! The small apples went into making some juice, but the biggest and best were saved for the dehydrator. I must have sliced thirty of them this morning (I’ll consider one of those slicing/coring gadgets for next time; an hour clutching a paring knife is not good for the wrist), but they turned out to be quite a tasty snack; a full quart of dried apple slices, and the promise of much more as long as the trees don’t buckle under the weight. And not to worry, the wood from that limb is drying for use in the smoker (planned topic for future posts, stay tuned) and should be ready sometime in 2015.
I am in love with this thing. I want to desiccate all sorts of food. Fish jerky, turkey jerky, tomatoes, peppers (bell and hot), onions, garlic, shallots, potatoes, kale, herbs, I could go on. My only problem is what to choose next, and how soon to get more trays for the thing.
So, has anyone done any dehydrating and want to suggest something for me to try next weekend? Anything I should avoid?