Dehydrating Foods

I purchased a rather inexpensive food dehydrator years ago because Melanie liked dried fruit so much, and stores charge an absurd amount for the smallest quantities. Seriously, they dried them. They didn’t add gold dust, did they? But I’ve recently rediscovered this simple machine as an answer to my concerns about food waste, and it has produced some incredibly tasty results.

Our kitchen inexplicably ripens fruits and vegetables in a fraction of the time one would expect. This is great if say, you bought avocados that aren’t quite ripe and you want guacamole tomorrow. This is not good if you need to have fruits and vegetables for the kid for the week and you don’t want to hit the grocery store 2-3 times a week. I’m not even kidding about how fast it happens. We have had an avocado go from hard and underripe to wrinkled and absolutely inedible overnight.

Mushrooms, which Eleanor, well, all the girls, just love especially do not fair well. I have maybe 2 days to make them or they’re garbage. I’m told you shouldn’t eat fungus that starts growing fungus. I’ll do some thinking on that one later, I guess. Anyway, we had some mushrooms that came in our produce delivery, and I knew we weren’t going to have an opportunity to cook them before they would go bad. So I broke out the dehydrator, washed them, and dried them overnight. It turns out, you just need some warm water and 30 minutes to rehydrate mushrooms and to use your dishes. Now, any time we find mushrooms on sale, we buy a few packages and dehydrate them for later use.

And dried fruit is just awesome. I remember my mother eating orange peels when I was a kid. Now, I don’t remember if this memory may have been during a time she was pregnant with one of my siblings or if, as I remember it, this was just a normal thing for her. I always thought it was crazy. I tried them and I did not see the appeal. But recently, I decided to dehydrate some oranges because they were going to go bad. It turns out that dehydrated orange peels taste fantastic. The orange part is pretty good too. And let’s not even get started on apples and bananas.

Dehydrated tomatoes make an excellent additive to pasta sauces and salads. I’m also considering adding them to a galette like you would sundried tomatoes to a pizza. I’ve only dehydrated cherry tomatoes, but I imagine this will work well with any type of tomato.

I haven’t tried dehydrating meat, but we all know it’s just around the corner. With my love of cured and smoked meats, I have to at some point decide to dive in and try making my own jerky. Currently, I’m experimenting with blackberries to see how that comes out. I didn’t get too brave with this; I just threw 3 or 4 in with the oranges that are currently in the dehydrator.

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