You might be surprised to find out that using a dehydrator is really simple. It actually takes very little preparation. There are a ton of different recipes that you can make and enjoy having snacks on hand at all times. There are recipes that you can make with foods that you have from your dehydrator.
Dehydration extends the shelf life of your food without having to store it in your refrigerator or freezer. In fact, it can be stored with absolutely no energy at all. That saves you on your food budget and your energy bill.
Preparing your space
Before you begin, you must clean and sanitize your workspace; This is key to making sure that bacteria will not contaminate your food. The first thing that you will want to do is remove the loose debris from the countertop. Wash your cutting board with soap and water.
Make sure that your knife is sharp and clean. Then, wash your counter top with soap and water. Be sure that you thoroughly dry the whole area. You do not want there to be any excess moisture because it may cause your knife to slip. Safety should always come first.
For the best results, and better-tasting food, make sure that you choose fruit that is fresh. You don’t want it to have any bruises or discoloring. If you are using your fruit with the peel on, wash off the waxy build up and residue. Remove the seeds and stems. You can then slice your fruit into one-inch slices.
You can also puree your fruits in a blender. Then all you need to do is lay it on some plastic wrap. Place it in your dehydrator. When you remove it, it will be leathery. Cut it into strips and you have the perfect snack.
Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and dehydrating does not remove these from your vegetables. You will want to either remove the skin completely or wash the skin to remove all debris from it; you should also remove the seeds. Pumpkin seeds can make a great snack later on if they are roasted.
You will want to cut your veggies into small ¼ to ½ inch pieces. Remember that they can be thrown into any recipe that you want to use them in. Dehydrated vegetables are wonderful in stews and soups, and they can even be used in casseroles.
When you think of meat in the dehydrator, your mind probably goes immediately to thinking jerky. While jerky is usually what you will get out of the dehydrator, it isn’t limited to just that.
In fact, you can rehydrate meats in stews. You can even prepare a gallon-size bag with meat, veggies, and herbs ahead of time. Take it with you on your next camping trip. All you need to do is add water and a campfire.
You will have to remove all the skin and fat from the meat. Fat does not dehydrate; it becomes rancid and will make you sick. Then slice it into thin slices, or cube it into ¼ to ½ inch cubes. You don’t need to add seasoning. However, if you do have some fresh herbs, you can dehydrate those with them and the flavor will be absorbed by the meat.
Using the dehydrator
When you are using your dehydrator, you always want to use the lowest heat setting possible. Low and slow is always the way to go. Never have your food overlapping; overlapping food will cause uneven air distribution.
Make sure that your dehydrator is set up in a spot where it won’t get in the way for a day or two. While most foods will only need about twelve hours, some foods require up to two full days. Never overfill your dehydrator.
Be prepared to smell the food that you are dehydrating throughout your entire house. While this is great if you are dehydrating apples and cinnamon, it isn’t as enjoyable when it is meat. Although, if you love the smell of a roast cooking, you may love the smell.
Storing dehydrated food
When you are storing dehydrated food, keep in mind that light, heat, and moisture are your enemies. You will lose vitamins to light. Heat will also destroy vitamins.
Moisture will cause your food to rehydrate or go bad. For best results, store your dehydrated foods in your pantry or in a kitchen drawer to keep it out the light and away from moisture.
Once it comes out of the dehydrator, you will need to leave it out to cool. Don’t store it while it is hot because it will cause condensation to build up on whatever you store it in. You will not want to store dehydrated food in the refrigerator because it will introduce moisture into your food.
Cleaning your dehydrator
Your trays should be removable for easy cleaning. You will just need to pull them out, wash them down with soap and water. Clean the bottom with dish soap and rinse thoroughly after you dehydrate meat to make sure you remove any residue.
Make sure that it is completely dry when you put it away. To make sure that you don’t lose any pieces, put together before you store it. Wrap the cord with an elastic band to keep it from snagging or getting damaged.
Now you know all that there is to know about using your dehydrator, and you just need to go and find some recipes. From breakfast to dinner, and everything in between, you will find many delicious ways to fall in love with your dehydrator.
The newer dehydrators sit nicely on your countertop and take up no more room than your crockpot. When it isn’t in use, you can store it in a cabinet.