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Can anyone offer any tips on Food Dehydration Pls?

 
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irridium



Joined: 21 Sep 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 11 10:11 pm    Post subject: Can anyone offer any tips on Food Dehydration Pls?  Reply with quote    

just bought an Excalibur 9-tray with timer over the w/e (coming next week) and am wondering if any of you peeps can offer any advice. I know that a book by Mary Bell should be worth investing. I basically realised that preserving with jam, chutney, cordial-making takes so much time and effort, that I realised that drying foods might help with sparing me a few hours of my precious w/ends!

anyone with any comments/help will be much appreciated!

Pilsbury



Joined: 13 Dec 2004
Posts: 5645
Location: East london/Essex
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 11 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

what do you want to dry?
the excaliber makes it easy really but you have to remembe to cut the food thin enough to go between the trays or leave out every other tray.
You can dry almost anything from fruit, herbs, veg meat, fish and fully prepared meals like chilli or bolagnaise for rehydrating later.
it will be easier to advise on a case by case basis so tell us what you want to dry and someone will be able to answer.

irridium



Joined: 21 Sep 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 11 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

hi pilsbury

ok, i'll suck it and see first, and if i come across any moments of panic/uncertainty on my first trial then i'll come back...

atm, i'm aiming to try it out on my current lotti gluts - toms, kale, courgette/squash, onion (tho' these will store till spring i hope. it's my first season on the lotti, btw), herbs and apples.
i have a Magimix so that will make uniform slices thin enough, I hope. Also, I have a mandolin too if the latter isn't.

Mustang



Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 768
Location: Sunny Suffolk
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 11 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Do a search through fairly recent posts for one on dehydrating ideas.

Most recently, am doing less 'slices' and more 'mashes' as it takes far less time, and the results are good. For example, whizz up apples into a lumpy puree (uncooked). Spread thinly (use the teflon liners) and dry. This makes a thin 'lace' of apple 'leather'. Same with plums, etc.

At this time, if you have excess sweet corn, decapitate the kernels in half, cook until smooth, add onion, garlic,chilli, herbs etc. Then spread thinly again on the teflon sheets. This makes a nice savoury crunchy snack.

Tomato - whizz them up into a puree ... leather them, then use the leather in stews, soups etc for a hyper-strong tomato flavour boost.

Tips? Don't put savoury stuff above sweet stuff (in case savoury stuff drips through).

Pilsbury



Joined: 13 Dec 2004
Posts: 5645
Location: East london/Essex
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 11 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tomatos are easily done in slices or wedges but i like to only part dry them then pack them in jars and top up with olive oil for a version of sundried tomatos, as mustang says you can turn them into a puree and dry like that.

apples in slices or chunks work well, not done corgettes as i dont like them lol

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 11 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Just started dehydrating this summer but here's what I've found so far.

Experiment a lot and keep a record of what you do (temps, times) so that you can do it again.

Get lots of jam jars or kilner jars to store in. You can crush things down and they take up less space. I leave the dried food in an air-tight plastic box overnight then store it in a jar the next day. It's supposed to help even out the moisture. You're supposed to let it cool in the machine, but I put it in the box 'hot' as the dehydrator is in the barn and it gets damp if left too long.

You might want to put one of those monitoring devices on the plug if you want to know how much power it is using.

I've been following Mary Bell's temperatures rather than the suggestions in the Excalibur booklet -
Meat and Fish 145 degF and above
Fruit and Veg 130 to 140 degF
Herbs and Flowers 100 to 110 degF

I started off at the low end of the temp range but have gradually been drying at higher temps as I only run it during the day and I want to get the batches finished in one go.

toms - definitely give Mustang's tomato leather a go; it's a revelation and really easy
kale - cut it into strips about an inch wide, removing the mid-rib (dry it separately and then powder it for soup). They dry very quickly and you can also marinade them in cider vinegar to make a snack.
courgette/squash - haven't tried but thin slices is probably the best way. I did beetroot and carrots in spiral using one of those gadgets from the 70's and they dried quickly and crumbled easily for adding to cooking, might work with squash?
onion - slices may be easiest. Shallots worked well that way (including the green tops). They smell like fried onions and would be nice on top of a winter salad.
herbs - because of the oils and the low temp, they take longer to dry than veg leaves of the same thickness. Leave them in as large pieces as possible and crush just before using.
apples - are great for adding to other fruit which is too juicy to make good leather on its own e.g. blackcurrants. You can add frozen fruit, use crab apples and add spices to vary the taste. Apple rings are good too. I didn't bother dipping them in lemon juice to stop them browning and they look fine.

So far the only veg which was disappointing was radish. It was ok, just won't bother again.

Fruit wise, I was having bother drying small fruits as they were becoming rock hard and unpalatable but I tried grinding some up and it makes a lovely drink with hot water, so problem solved. If you grow them, you must try strawberries (sliced) and gooseberries (halved).

When you've had a play with your new machine, it would be great if you could add your two penn'orth to this thread, ta!

Mustang



Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 768
Location: Sunny Suffolk
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 11 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Here's another one. If you have spare lemons (or oranges, limes etc), chuck them in a food processor and whizz them up. All I take out are pips (if I see them).

Spread the lot out onto the teflon sheets. It'll be very very wet, but no problem. Dry them out, then whizz them in the food processor to get ultra-flavoured powder.

Add to hot water for drinks, into salad dressings, into ice-cream, sprinkle on cereals, with apple puree, etc etc.

irridium



Joined: 21 Sep 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 11 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

thanks for the advice Mustang & Pilsbury - really appreciate the time and effort for helping me here.

the dehydrator's not coming now till Tue (out of stock - tis harvest time after all!) but managed to get a discount code off another forum and asked the company whether i can have this on my order as it wasn't being delivered. thankfully, they accepted, and i've saved 24.25 (10%) - woo hoo!

it's interesting to note that citrus fruits can be dried. as they can be expensive (if you live near Brum, the fruit & veg market sells lemons for 10 for a 1). it's really handy to make cold remedy drinks with them!


cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 11 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mustang wrote:
Here's another one. If you have spare lemons (or oranges, limes etc), chuck them in a food processor and whizz them up. All I take out are pips (if I see them).

Spread the lot out onto the teflon sheets. It'll be very very wet, but no problem. Dry them out, then whizz them in the food processor to get ultra-flavoured powder.

Add to hot water for drinks, into salad dressings, into ice-cream, sprinkle on cereals, with apple puree, etc etc.

Cor, that sounds good. Ok if I copy it over to the article thread too?

Mustang



Joined: 15 Jul 2005
Posts: 768
Location: Sunny Suffolk
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 11 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Be my guest...

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 11 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Ta!

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