After much deliberation and lusting, I finally got a dehydrator!
I knew I would get use out of it from extra CSA food, if nothing else. And I have often dreamed of other great foods slow-cooked and dried at a low temperature. Every time I got to a raw or vegan restaurant and have raw crackers or bread, I vow to replicate the recipe and get the same great results at home. (Still looking forward to that; if anyone has tips, tricks or recipes I would love to hear them!)
So I got a Nesco; not too big, not too small. I read the book that came with the appliance (cause I’m a nerd like that) and got chopping and soaking foods. Right away I dried what seemed like a million apples. And it was awesome. I quickly dried more apples, and added strawberries and peaches to the drying process.
The natural sweetness of the fruit was intensified when the water was taken out. They were the perfect snacks to curb a sweet craving. Better than any dried fruit I’ve bought at a store. And the book says to experiment with flavorings and toppings before dehydrating. I can especially see this with spices and flavors on vegetables before dehydrating. My mind is swirling full of ideas and I want to dehydrate everything in my refrigerator.
The only downside (and I must admit my mom warned me about this) was that the fruit shrunk so much! I put fruit in every little area of the trays and they shrink to less than half the size. I see why the company suggests adding trays (something I may do). However, this wouldn’t turn me away from dehydrating.
Also, food needs to be cut evenly to ensure even drying. And without a mandoline, that makes it difficult. But I hope to get one for my birthday (hint, hint) or will buy one, making the process quicker and easier.
Once I had dried apples, I went to the next level and made granola in the dehydrator. This made my house smell like sugar and fruits and nuts. It was awesome granola, with the scent being a huge bonus. Warm and finished, Bill and I had some and it was a clear winner that will be repeated — probably sooner than later! This seems like the type of recipe where any dried fruits and nuts on hand can be used.
- 5 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup pecans or almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup dried apple, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- In a large bowl, combine al ingredients, mixing well.
- Spread onto solid dehydrator sheets and dry at 145° for 3 to 5 hours or until crunchy. (Can be done in an oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.)
- Store in an air-tight container.
What is your favorite food to dehydrate?