Sunday, July 26, 2015

Best (Meaning Easiest) Foods for Dehydrating

Home grown celery... intensely flavorful.

In my recent post about food preservation, dehydrating came up high on the list of nutrition friendly ways to keep foods for later use.
Some foods really lend themselves easily to dehydrating without alot of additional fuss. Some might surprise you. Here are my favorites. But first,

Some tips and tricks: 

Moisture is the enemy of long term storage. Dry the food till it is crisp, and will break,  not just bend. This insures you have gotten it good and dry.
Glass is better than plastic for storage.
Vaccum seal in jars adds an additional measure of security.
Adding a silica dessicant adds even more security for long term.
some are easier with a dehydrator or solar evaporator. These are marked with *

And now the list.
1. Mushrooms.  Wash or brush off, slice, and dry. Couldnt be simpler.  
2. Any herb. Parsley, mint, lemon balm, dill are my faves. Cilantro and basil dont retain much flavor when dried. Hang in loose bundles out of direct sunlight.  When dry, put into glass jars, removing any stems first.
3. Almost any fruit. 
     Berries work well as fruit leather. Blend in a food processor, 
     Spread on a parchment-lined tray, and dry until still slightly          pliable. Cut into strips, parchment and all, roll, store in jars. 
     You can also dry sliced strawberries or whole raspberries. If
     You dry strawberries till crisp, you can grind them to a              powder and have your own instant strawberry flavor.
     For whole fruits: sliced apples, peaches, bananas* cherries
     (Pitted) , pineapple, mango*.  I'm  sure there are more, but I 
     have had good success with all these. 
4. Vegetables:  
     Tomatoes, halves, or slices.  (Yes, tomatos are technically a fruit, but we all lump them with veggies)More about ways to dry and use tomatoes in a separate post soon.  
     Zucchini or summer squash.  Plain, or first marinated in a seasoned vinegar oil for tasty zucchini chips.
     Peppers, hot or sweet.  Small peppers like chiles or jalapeno, just slice crosswise , seeds and all.  Bell peppers, chop in bit size pieces or thin strips.
     Celery, leaves or stems.
     Carrots.  Best either grated or julienned sliced, but the usual rounds work too. These are surprisingly tasty as a snack. But very crunchy.  Have good teeth.
      Cooked pinto beans*. Make your own instant refried beans by cooking, then mashing the beans.  Add salt or seasonings, or leave plain. Spread  thinly on a tray, dry till crumbly, being sure to turn and get everything dry.  Great convenience food. 
     Onions and garlic. Peel and Chop first.
Thats it, the ones I dry most often. They can be added to recipes as is, or reconstituted first. One of our favorites is adding the dried , reconstituted pineapple slices to our homemade pizza. A handful ├▓f dried sweet red peppers is a great tasty snack, as are zucchini chips. Dried bananas are sooo yummy. Dried apple chips-fantastic.  If you want to use apples in recipes, peel first before drying. You can reconstit├╣te and use in baked goods or as toppings for oatmeal or desserts.

Bananas and pineapple. Yummy.


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