As part of my personal resolutions for the new year I am trying to be more frugal and improving our eating habits. I plan to capitalize on buying in bulk to help save money and put the bulk fresh food to good use before it goes bad. I have a big refrigerator to store fresh produce (could use some tips on how to do that better), but buying a big box of some fruit or veg will almost always result in my throwing out some that went bad before I got a chance to use it all. So, I'm thinking dehydrating might help me avoid this.
Do any of you dehydrate? If so, what do you find you dehydrate the most and what dehydrates best? And, shopping for a dehydrator what should I look for? Any recommendations?
I first had a cheap dehydrator but it did not hold much and ran very hot. After wanting one for years, I finally bought a 9 drawer Excaliber. It holds a ton and has a temperature gauge so you can end up with raw dehydrated food. I have a garden so this year I dehydrated tons of summer squash into "chips", tomatoes and eggplant. I just ate a salad topped with the tomatoes. My kids like dehydrated apples and homemade fruit leather. I also soak and dehydrate nuts to remove the phytic acid. I have also dehydrated mint and stevia for tea and dehydrated pomegranite peel (supposed to be a cure for stomach bug-it does not taste good though!)
We look into dehydrating years ago and found it really wasn't for us. The Excaliber IMO would be the best if you do plan to do it and on a large scale. It really depends on what you want to have dried vs (in our case) freezing. If you want lots of fruit leather it's great but it also takes lots of fruit to make it, you might be surprised on your return.
For the amount we need the oven is cheaper, electrical cost, space and clean up was better for us.
Certain veggies and fruits really are best not stored in the frig-depending on what they are.
I also dry my mint, raspberry leaf and herbs naturally and that costs nothing.
I do tomatoes when I have lots in my garden. Sometimes herbs. As a kid, we had lots of dried apples which are really yummy.
I generally only dry if that's how I want to use it. I really like the taste of dried tomatoes. I would use dried fruit for oatmeal, granolas, snacks. But generally, if I have excess fruits and veggies, I put them in the freezer for smoothies and soups.
As PP said, an oven can be used as well.
I have a cheap ($30) dehydrator. It dries really unevenly, which is annoying. I suppose it depends on how much you want to use it and how important it is for it to be easy. Excalibers are the best, but they're tons more expensive.
I've heard the Excalibur is the best but it is pricey. Maybe there are some good ones between the cheap and Excalibur range?
What about drying vegetables to throw into soups and stews? Does that work well?
why would you want to? unless you are making a certain dried pea soup I guess
it would remove the reason I add veggies - they add "liquid" without adding additional h2o
Have you thought about blanching and freezing?- it's easy and takes far less time, less energy cost as well! Peas, string beans, corn are super easy to do- pepper and tomatoes you don't even need to- just cut and bag(BPA free) and freeze- you can even do by cup amount if you want 8 & 16oz fit with most needs-peppers I do smaller amount to add to dishes that only need 1 pepper- same with roasted- do in oven or on grill, seed and freeze
onions (if kept properly) would not need to be - I only do dried to add to dip and salad dressing
I do tomato paste (done in the oven) I keep all the juice and freeze that as well (in 1 cup size) - very easy to just get out 8 or 16 oz.
The people I know that do a dried corn dish won't even use a dehydrator because they want the corn "browned".
Adding frozen veggies to a soup is also a great way to do it if you are making a pasta/rice based soup- after cooking the pasta/rice (in the broth) adding the frozen veggies drops the temp as to not over cook the pasta/rice-it's a plus!
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