A dehydrator is a great tool for anyone wishing to eat more natural food. You can make your own dried fruits, vegetables and herbs so you can avoid all the sugar and additives commonly added in such products and save money too.
I received my dehydrator as a gift three years ago and it’s become an invaluable tool in my kitchen. Here is the one I have :
This is the Nesco Snackmaster and I’m very satisfied it : it’s not the very best on the market, but it does the job correctly and is a good value for the price. There is a decent amount of place inside and the tray can easily be manipulated. The fruit leather tray also gets a lot of use, it’s a shame they only include one. But that’s not a big flaw since they’re also sold separately.
Using the dehydrator
Using a dehydrator is very simple : you put the cut food on the tray, select the right temperature for the produce you’re drying according to the manual and plug it. The dehydrator dries the food slowly, preserving the quality.
It’s the same principle as drying food with the help of the sun, but here in Canada it’s not very practical to wait for a hot day during most of the year. Most tasks can also be done in an oven if the temperature can be set low enough, but it needs to be watched a lot more.
What can you do with it
My favorite thing to dry is fruits : apples, bananas, pineapple, mangoes… the list is pretty much endless. I just peel them, cut them with my mandoline and put them on the trays. I love to add them to my oatmeal or eat them as snacks.
Fruit rolls or leathers are another option. You just spread any fruit puree on a special tray that has no holes and leave it to dry. To save time, I sometimes use a sugarless store-brought jar of applesauce.
I also made a batch of dried tomatoes once : I still have some leftovers and it’s been two years. I bought a 5$ basket of Italian tomatoes during the harvest season, cut them in two and put them face up on the tray with a drop of balsamic vinegar in each. This made three 500ml jars of dried tomatoes, so that’s a lot to use!
The dehydrator can also be used to dry herbs and vegetables, but I don’t have a lot of experience with this. I only tried to dry basil one and it worked pretty well, but it took a lot of space, not the best solution if you have a lot to dry.
There are also many foods you can prepare in the dehydrator like crackers, flat breads and trekking food. A dehydrator is also used a lot in the raw food diet, so you will find many good recipes in raw food cookbooks. Some crafters also use them to dry stuff like ornaments and melt-and-pour soap faster.
If you have a dehydrator, how do you use it? Please share your tips in the comments.