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Thread: What is YOUR favorite food to dehydrate?

  1. #1
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    What is YOUR favorite food to dehydrate?

    I got a great dehydrator with in the last year and have loved dehydrating.........

    cantalope
    pears
    apples
    bananas
    tomatoes - grape & romas!

    Sooo... I want to know what YOU dehydrate!!! PLEASE share your best trials!!!

    Thanks!!!
    Jeanne

  2. #2
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    I don't know why I don't do more; I used to do fruit leathers and tomatoes but now seem to only do wild mushrooms and hot peppers.
    Cheers! Andy

  3. #3
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    Could the dehydrator experts give me some tips on buying a dehydrator and dehydrating fruit?

    When I was in CA in June, I bought some dried Santa Rosa plums at the Quincy, CA Farmer's Market. They were a bit of heaven. I'd love to be able to dry some of our local plums and peaches.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.
    *******************
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  4. #4
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    To answer Jeanne G's question:
    bananas and apples. I should try some tomatoes this year as I'm actually going to have a good crop. My oregano got out of hand and I hacked it back so no dried there. Should have thought of that earlier. Oh well.

    To answer PattiA:

    I have an Excalibur dehydrator and I really like it. We just bought it last fall so it is still fairly new. Some things that we considered in our choice:
    - size of trays. We wanted larger trays and not something in a circle.
    - blower is in the back of the dehydrator, not a coil on the bottom. Air circulates better and I don’t have to **** around moving trays every hour. No coil getting coated in dripping juices.
    - number of trays = 9. I can do big batches or little batches.
    - adjustable temperature. I can do herbs, fruit, veggies and meat and can adjust the temp for each.

    It came with a very good “how to” book. I did buy a second one from amazon.com more to have a comparison cookbook.

    We thought the one we were buying came with a timer - very handy when some things like banana’s take 8 hours. Unfortunately it didn’t. But I solved that buy purchasing a plug in timer for appliances.

    Downside of Excalibur - it’s a bit noisy and large. I have a small, older, house so I do my prep in the evening then let it run during the night (off -peak electricity too!). I keep it down in the basement so it becomes more of a background noise and it’s out of the way. Your whole place will smell like whatever you’re drying.

    I’ve mostly dried bananas (love homemade dried bananas!), apples, and pineapple. I tried to do my own “fruit roll-up” but I don’t think I had the proportions right. You do need to buy a separate mat for the trays to do pureed foods. A mandoline is also a must to get an even thickness on sliced foods. That and it significantly speeds up prep. I hope to dry some of my own herbs this year.

    Something else to consider, is not only the expense of the unit you purchase, but it does take time and money to buy the fresh foods (unless you are using garden produce or CSA boxes) and then process them (8-12 hours). It might still be more cost effective to just buy the dried items at a local co-op.
    Blogging it! A healthy serving of books, a dash of food, a splash of knitting, all topped off with the occasional trip. Serving recipe reviews on Mondays, book reviews on Thursdays.

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  5. #5
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    Wild mushrooms, rose hips, and garden greens - kale, collards, chard, mustard, etc. for winter soups and stews.
    Anne

  6. #6
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    I dry mango, watermelon, strawberry slices, tomatoes, and pineapple usually.

    Hijack approaching... Varaile, do you add lemon juice or anything to the bananas? I so want to try drying them.

    I have a very old, very cheap dehydrator and it still works great, although I know if I upgraded I'd probably be super happy.

    Kate

  7. #7
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    Anne,
    Great idea on the greens! I have kale and chard in my garden. I think I'll go pick some now!
    Kate,
    I got my dehydrator from Craig's list for $5...old but dirty...cleaned it up and it works great!
    And....bananas....I found the best way to make them taste delicious is to WAIT until they are VERY ripe....these banana slices are the best!

  8. #8
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    Kate B: I dip mine in a honey/sugar mixture. I *think* the ratio is 2 (or 4?) cups of boiling H20, dissolve 1 cup of sugar, let cool a bit, dissolve 1 cup of honey. Let cool a bit more.

    I use my madoline to slice the banana's ~1/4" and drop them right into the liquid. I do about 2-4 bananas, then spoon them into a strainer over a bowl, let drain while I do the next batch, then transfer to tray. Kinda like a little assembly line.

    I found this helps keep the banana's from turning brown and gives them a nice flavor. While it may seem like a lot of sugar, the majority of the liquid is left behind. I dip my apples in this as well then sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Both of my dehydrating books suggested this method.
    Blogging it! A healthy serving of books, a dash of food, a splash of knitting, all topped off with the occasional trip. Serving recipe reviews on Mondays, book reviews on Thursdays.

    Scifi with a Dash of Paprika

  9. #9
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    We mostly do grapes from our vines and cherries from our tree. I much prefer oven dried tomatoes so I do them in there. I was thinking about doing plums this year but haven't yet. I was hoping to get them really cheap and we're not there yet. I'd love to have a plum tree.
    You can't drink rum on the beach all day if you don't start in the morning.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanne G View Post
    Anne,
    Great idea on the greens! I have kale and chard in my garden. I think I'll go pick some now!
    Kate,
    I got my dehydrator from Craig's list for $5...old but dirty...cleaned it up and it works great!
    And....bananas....I found the best way to make them taste delicious is to WAIT until they are VERY ripe....these banana slices are the best!
    This may be obvious but i don't do the stems on the greens, I rip the leafy part and put that on the drying rack.
    Anne

  11. #11
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    I'm wondering about those greens too...I figured no stems...thanks...but curious about the rest. I've made the roasted kale that someone posted here and it's amazing! But ovbiously this is different. Do you add any olive oil or s/p? I do add salt to my tomatoes when drying them. And greens cook down soo much I'm wondering if you pile them up? Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Pears are a great idea! I'm intrigued by the cantalope.. how do you slice it and how does it turn out?

    We do a lot of bananas because we grow bananas and to eat an entire bunch of bananas before they go bad is impossible. Plus they make great dried bananas for when the trees aren't producing. But I've also done sweet red pepper, pineapple and kiwi as well as fruit leathers.

  13. #13
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    This is one of my favorite recipes for the dehydrator - Eggplant Bacon.

    It's awesome dipped in hummus. I'm guessing it might be good with zucchini too. We used to do something similar with really thin rounds of zucchini when I was a kid.

    I just recently got a new Nesco dehydrator and I have to say, while it works fine, I liked my old dehydrator much better. I only bought a new one because several of the racks broke and I could not find replacements.

    I had no problems with the coil in the bottom on the old one as long as you rotated the shelves. The coil is in the top on the new one and I just hate it. It's so top heavy and kind of awkward, the bottom is just a little bitty piece, very thin and light, that it's just a matter of time before I drop it or tip it over. The new one is also a lot noisier.

    I'm intrigued by Varaile's description. Coil in the back sounds better and so does non-round trays. I think I might have looked at one like that, though, and it was bigger and more expensive than I wanted. Too bad we didn't have this topic before, I could have shopped around a bit more.
    For those in touch with it, Reality is the leading cause of stress.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tovie View Post
    This is one of my favorite recipes for the dehydrator - Eggplant Bacon.
    Now this looks really interesting! I am going to try it! I have eggplant from my garden all ready to go! Thanks for such an interesting and different item for me to make!

  15. #15
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    I spread the pieces of greens on a cooling rack and put that above our wood cook stove. I may have to rearrange them a time or two to get all dried evenly. They get completely dry and can be crumbled. When they are done I just drop them in a gallon jar.
    Anne

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieM View Post
    Pears are a great idea! I'm intrigued by the cantalope.. how do you slice it and how does it turn out?
    I've never dried cantaloupe, but the local produce market here sells it. They cut it in strips or chunks, kind of like you might see papaya or mango sometimes.

    I like cantaloupe but I didn't really care for it dried. It was just... too much. I'm not sure what I think the flavor was just too concentrated for me.

    And actually, I'd say the strips are probably just the melon cut into crescents like you would for serving and then peeled.
    For those in touch with it, Reality is the leading cause of stress.

  17. #17
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    FOr those who have dried bananas, do they need to be slightly green? Or how ripe can they be before it won't work?

    For those who dry tomatoes, do you just halve them, or quarter them and lay them out? Do you need to drain them first so it doesn't take forever? Other than salt, do you add other flavorings?

    I have dried apples and cherries and made fruit leather, but I would love to try other things. Great thread!
    kathyb


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  18. #18
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    This thread is fascinating; it would never in a hundred years occur to me to dehydrate anything!
    Good to know there are still some new topics on the ol' BB
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieM View Post
    I'm intrigued by the cantalope.. how do you slice it and how does it turn out?
    Julie- Dried cantalope is AMAZING! I LOVE it! It is a bit sweeter and stronger than fresh, but that's what the dehydration process does. I cut mine in small thin square-ish sections. I like it mubh better than dried apples and pears personally, and I am not a huge sweet tooth. I just think it's delicious!

    That being said, tovie, I have the eggplant bacon in my dehydrator right now! I had a little trouble cutting them in long lengths with a peeler so I pulled out my mandoline and did eggplant coins. I'm excited to taste them! And I have some yummy homemade hummus to eat them with!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    Anne, so you use them more as flavoring than as a veggie? Or how?
    I generally just dump a handful in soups or stews (even chile but don't tell dh) and use them for both flavor and increasing the veges in the dish. It doesn't really reconstitute, especially if I crumble it to small pieces. It is a bit like adding dried nori to a dish but without the salt content, or maybe using vegetable stock. The mustard does give a nice peppry hint to a dish, the kale works well in bean type soups, the chard goes well with potato based soup but they all are really a bit interchangable. I learned the trick of drying greens from a friend who did not have a freezer. I do have a freezer but there is never enough room for fish, deer, veges, and berries. Collards are the thickest and hardest to get really dry, mustard is the easiest. I've even done small tender cauliflower and broccoli leaves.
    Anne

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathy B View Post
    FOr those who have dried bananas, do they need to be slightly green? Or how ripe can they be before it won't work?

    For those who dry tomatoes, do you just halve them, or quarter them and lay them out? Do you need to drain them first so it doesn't take forever? Other than salt, do you add other flavorings?
    Bananas - I posted earlier that I think they are BEST VERY ripe!

    Tomatoes? Grape and cherry I halve or quarter - if small don't cut all the way through the skin so you get a "bigger" piece. I did this b/c mine could fall through my dehydrators shelves. For the roma ones I cut them length - wise thinnish and do NOT drain them. If you have extra seeds, etc. make sure that you just scoop those onto a more solid slice of tomato. And personally, I do lightly salt mine.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanne G View Post
    That being said, tovie, I have the eggplant bacon in my dehydrator right now! I had a little trouble cutting them in long lengths with a peeler so I pulled out my mandoline and did eggplant coins. I'm excited to taste them! And I have some yummy homemade hummus to eat them with!
    Yeah, it's kind of hard to get long strips. My one failing in the kitchen is knife skills (they're kind of hard to pick up on your own). I use a vegetable peeler and this time of year I sometimes buy the little eggplants or the long skinny Japanese (cause eggplant is really cheap and in season right now). I find those easier.

    That's a good idea for the coins. I'll have to try that next time.
    For those in touch with it, Reality is the leading cause of stress.

  23. #23
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    Since this thread started, I have tried drying pineapple and bananas, and they turned out very well. I really liked the pineapple...leathery with a sweet/tangy taste. DH and DS don't really care for pineapple, so they preferred the bananas which were very chewy and also had a good flavor. I am sure I will try both again.

    I can see the dehydrator being very handy to take care of extra fruit before it goes bad. Thanks for the ideas!
    kathyb


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  24. #24
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    I recently dried sweet potatoes for the first time - julienned then, tossed with EVOO & s/p and tried for a long time. One recipe I read said 4 to 5 hours, but I did mine over night. Crunchy and good! Will be great on a salad!

  25. #25
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    Along with some of the vegetables mentioned earlier, I also make beef jerky in my dehydrater. My son loves it, and generally wants me to make it for him when he goes camping with the Boy Scouts.

    I haven't had a lot of success with bananas, but I'm interested in trying Varaile's method.
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