dehydration 101

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by *Andi, May 9, 2011.

  1. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    Now I KNOW lots of folks here use their dehydrator (s) for all kinds of fruit and veggies ... My Excalibur will be here in a day or two so I'm looking for tips and such from you all. ;)

    I have a still air dehydrator that I use for my herbs (and it works great for that) but now is the time to expand ... :D

    Fruit leathers, now that sounds yummy ...

    Come on folks give me your 101 tips! :flower:
  2. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    Hum... This is a tuffy!
    Tomatoes/onions/hot and sweet peppers/mushrooms can all be dehydrated without blanching.. Just cut and dry.(I have to blanch corn to have a good flavor in the freezer so I am assuming that sweet corn should be blanched before drying)
    Potatoes/carrots/broccoli/cauliflower/asparagus/green beans (these are the ones I have done personally) all need to be blanched before drying. The enzymes in these can make the foods nasty flavored, blanching deactivates them.

    Most fruits are fine to just cut and dry but some that turn brown do nicer if you dip them in a bit of lemon juice/citric acid mixed with water.
    I have found that while some fruits do great as a fruit roll up most I like better if I puree them and mix them with good applesauce(preferably home made with low sugar, if any sugar).
    Strawberries/Raspberries/Blueberries/mulberries all do nicer if pureed and then I push them thru my sieve to remove the seeds(you don't have to do that if you don't want to) and then mix with applesauce or pureed peaches(blueberry and peach and raspberry and peach is just lovely).
    Applesauce/poached and pureed peaches/poached and pureed pears are all yummy as fruit leather but I do tend to squeeze a bit of lemon in just to preserve color.
    These are the only ones that I personally have tried.
    If you make refried beans they dry very well in the dehydrator just powder them up a bit after drying to crispy dry and then all it takes is a bit of boiling water to rehydrate into dip or for burritos.
    I've don't the jerky thing to death!
    I like a mix of liquid smoke(just a teaspoon is enuf) soy sauce a bit of Lea and Perrions a bit of brown sugar or honey or even maple syrup and any other spices and herbs. I personally love a good hefty dose of Franks Red hot in there too.
    I do dry my jerky to hard dry as to leave it softer will leave it open to molds and try to get as much fat off as possible as it goes rancid.
    More sugar in the mix for jerky marinade will make the meat much more soft and bendy. The sweet and hot combo goes over real well.
    I always dry meat on my highest heat.
    Drying potatoes on highest heat turns them dark, so now I dry them at about 110°F is my favorite temp for nice colored taters.

    Quite a bit of my info is from one of Mary Bell's food dehydrator books but since I get them from the library I can't remember exactly which one right now.

  3. Cud579

    Cud579 Well-Known Member

    Bananas & Eggs

    I just received my dehydrator a week early for Mother's Day. So far I have dried banana chips and raw eggs. The banana chips were dried to a crisp without any citric acid or lemon juice. I have done this in years past with a cheapie dehydrator, they always turn out wonderful. We had tons of eggs from our lovely girls and I just hate purchasing eggs in the winter while giving away excess eggs in the summer. So I just scrambled up 8 eggs per tray and dried 3 trays worth at a time. I dried the eggs at 135 degrees for 18 hours. At 12 hours, there were still some greasy spots on the dried eggs. Once dry, I allowed them to cool and then ran one tray at a time in the blender until they were a powder consistency. I have rehydrated one trays worth and cooked them. They are not as good as fresh, but still very flavorful and tasty. I just scrambled them after rehydrating them. :D 3 dried trays worth of eggs = 2 dozen eggs. This fit nicely into a quart jar which I vaccuum sealed. On the bananas I had 3 bunches and after drying and eating some, They all fit into 2 quart jars which were vaccuum sealed as well.
  4. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

    Ifin yall find a good deal on canned goods er frozen vegies an fruits, they to can be dehydrated, most a the work bein done fer yall already.

    We got a real good buy on frozen hash browns, straight from the bag onta trays an dried em. Works great.
  5. tortminder

    tortminder Well-Known Member


    Sprout barley and then dry the sprouted barley in the dehydrator. Powder the resultant product and add some of the powder to a milk shake,,, old fashioned Malted milk, (also makes a great addition to home made whole wheat bread).:p
  6. Moose33

    Moose33 Well-Known Member

    Hi Andi,
    I got my Excalibur a few months ago. I started out slowly to get the hang of/feel for it. I started with frozen corn, peas, mixed veggies, hash browns and green beans. All turned out great. I'm going for mushrooms and green peppers next. I know its nothing fancy but it works for me.
    Take it easy,
  7. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    Peppers need to be blanched first to break down the tough outer skin or they will be chewy after being rehydrated. (unless you are going to cook them for a long time like in a stew or something)

    I use hamburger for a quick, no fuss, tender jerky. Just add spices, mix, & dry. I love my jerky gun, works like a caulk gun.
  8. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    Interesting.. I usually only use my peppers(hot and sweet) for grinding into spice powder so I guess I never noticed that they are a bit chewy.:dunno:
    For stews and omelet's and such I freeze my peppers now. But later if we don't have any electricity then I will be dehydrating more and that is good to know.
    While I don't mind chewy things I know that some probably will. Texture is a funny thing when it comes to eating. I love gristle/fat off from steak and bones and I haven't had a seafood that I haven't liked(or loved) Kelp can have an odd texture if you're not used to it. Not to mention sea cucumber.;)I've know many folks who don't like sun dried tomatoes due to the chewy texture but then love my super dried beef jerky which is hard.
    I myself can not stand the jerky from hamburger-too fatty and gritty. Just one of those texture things I guess.
  9. BuggingIn

    BuggingIn Well-Known Member

    You are SO going to love your Excalibur. I dehydrate hamburger rocks in mine. They rehydrate very nicely in cooked dishes later.

    Another use that you might not have thought of is re-crisping stale cereal, crackers and chips. It works really well for that, without "cooklng them" like my oven seems to do.

    You can also use it to make yogurt and raise bread. :)
  10. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Peas would seem to be so simple for dehydrating, but it's the one food that I'm still having trouble with. They just don't rehydrate to nice, soft peas. Instead they're leathery or chewy. I've tried drying them raw and untreated, drying them after blanching, and drying them after cooking. I've also tried soaking them longer before adding them to what I'm cooking. Someone have an idea what I'm doing wrong? Emerald? Anyone? :dunno:
  11. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    Great tips everyone ... Thanks!

    My Excalibur is here and on the job! My first test subjects (lol), celery and strawberries are dehydrating as I type ... :2thumb:

    And gypsysue ... good question! For which I have no answer ... :dunno:
  12. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    I've never done sweet peas.I am gonna have to go do some "searching" on that one. Most peas that I "dry" are the ones that I let go for seed and I just let them mature on the plant. Then give them a few hours in the dehydrator on the lowest temp to make sure that they don't cook but dry enuf so that they don't mold. Be back soon. And I will put up some of the hints I have for re-hydrating on the other tread too!;)
  13. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    I just did a simple search and found that most of the sites have been barfing up the same old info from one to another-
    Pick clean, blanch for 3 minutes cool and then dehydrate at 100° F for 'x' amount of time till crispy hard dry and then soak for 30 minutes with boiling water then drain and cook or just add to soups/stews.
    Supposed to taste somewhat between fresh and canned.:dunno: Maybe I'll pick up some of the cheap frozen veggie at the store(they are on sale this week) and give it a shot for myself.
  14. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    The strawberries are GREAT!

    I can see more of them going in the Excalibur ... :2thumb:
  15. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    The bulk of my dried bell peppers are used for chicken spaghetti so griding them may work better. I usually steam them in the microwave before I dry them.

    We use ground sirloin for our jerky, not greasy or fatty.
  16. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    Love strawberries dried to a crisp! Very tasty!
  17. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    Yum Sir Loin-my favorite knight! Maybe that would be better.;):D
    I don't cook any veggies in the microwave-it kills them nutritionally by killing off some of the good enzymes that our bodies use... Like antioxidants and such..
    I ended up with a nice steamer combo when I got my good stainless steel cookware and I steam blanch everything as it is so much easier than trying to fish veggies out of boiling water. Once I get my assembly line going I can clean/blanch/ice/dehydrate or freeze pretty simply and quickly...
  18. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member


    Found some blueberries on sale ...I'm thinking blueberry leathers/roll ups (first ;))???

    *Tips* ???

    The strawberry learthers I made, must have turned out alright ... they are gone. :D lol

    Oh and the pineapple chunks took forever! (but very tasty. :p)
  19. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    Make sure you do some pears when they come in season. Absolutely out of this world! How thick did you slice your strawberries? I do mine about 1/4" and they still come out flat as a pancake.

    I quit dipping my fruit before it goes in the dryer. Yes it does darken a tad, but it doesn't affect the taste and it's not as messy.

    A little trick to tell if your fruit is dry enough to store. When you take it off the trays, put it in a baggie, close it up and let it set for about 24 hours. If you get condensation on the inside, put it back in the dryer for a couple more hours.
  20. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    My pear trees got hit by the bore bugs and got the saw last fall ... but as no one but hubby like 'pears' :dunno:

    I did get a mater slicer to help with the strawberries ... so I would say 1/4" ...

    and thanks for the tip ... I'm looking for all of them I can get! :D