A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


February 20, 2012

Dehydration Made Easy

      In my part of the country, we are preparing our gardens for Spring planting, which means it's time to start planning on how to preserve all the harvest.  Last year I began to experiment with dehydrating food and have been thoroughly pleased with the results!  After spending a lot of time in researching different manufacturers and models, I settled on the Excalibur, Model #3526, 5-tray dehydrator.
     It is lightweight, easy to clean, versatile, and perfect for small families with small gardens.  The adjustable thermostat and 26-hour timer that shuts off automatically make it the choice for those wishing to ease into dehydrating foods.  You aren't a slave to your process, as you spend a small amount of time, preparing your trays, turn on the timer, and go about your day.  You can dehydrate almost anything you can imagine...nearly all fruits, most vegetables, meats, fish, herbs and some dairy products.  And best benefit of all....it's made in the USA!
     My limited experience has been with vegetables from my garden:  onions, peppers (all varieties), potatoes, beans, tomatoes, etc.  It's as simple as blanching the washed, cut-up vegetables, dehydrating in the Excalibur, and vacuum sealing them for storage.  Then during the winter I add them to soups and stews and they are quickly re-hydrated in the liquid and broth.
     Another couple of my dehydration favorites are apples and bananas.  Soaking them in lemon juice for a few minutes keeps them from turning brown.  I add just a touch of cinnamon to the slices, and the results are so tasty that I have to admit, we end up eating them and not much gets stored!  They are a great snack to have on hand, and a good solution to those sugary, caloric alternatives.
     And of course, one of the greatest benefits is how much less you will spend dehydrating your own food, rather than buying dried foods.  One hint:  when your local grocery store runs a sale on fruits or vegetables, stock up and start drying!  Dried foods are easy to store and don't take up much room, especially if you vacuum seal them.  You can extend the life of dried foods if you store them in cool, dry temperatures; and if you have the space, storing them in #10 cans or sealable food storage buckets will increase their life for 10 years or more.
     I have seen many favorable customer testimonials on dehydrating jerky, and it is definitely on my list of to-dos.  The Excalibur is rated very high for producing consistent, tasty jerky and my husband can't wait to try out this option.
     At the same time I ordered my dehydrator, I also ordered a handy little source book, called Keeping The Harvest.  This handbook offers valuable information on methods of preserving, including freezing, canning and drying.  The instructions are easy to follow and cover a broad and comprehensive list of issues:  from the optimal time to pick your produce, to what equipment you'll need, to how much headroom is required when freezing fruits and vegetables.  You'll learn timesaving methods, as well as simple, down-home recipes for pickles and relishes, jellies and marmalades, and even how to make your own ketchup.
     This is a natural addition to your food preservation arsenal, whether you're dehydrating or not.  So, if you've been contemplating dehydration as a method of preserving your harvest, take it from me.  It was almost foolproof and worth the investment.  You won't be sorry!

Galatians 6:9    "Let us not become weary in doing good,  for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."   

4 comments:

  1. I love my dehydrators. Unfortunatly, I only have the cheap Nesco's, but they do the job until I can afford an Exclaibur.
    I do jerky, but I wait until beef goes on a deep sale to do it. Meat here is off the charts now. I am experimenting with dehydrating left over potatoes, carrots, and other veggies left over from dinners, freeze in containers, then I bring out when containers are full and then dry. I then pulverize the mixture in a food processor or a food grinder and I have vegetable powder, I mix some of my herbs I dried and have a wonderful base for soups, stews or whatever your heart desires.
    Keep up with recipes you come up with, I'll share what I have done. Its so fun to do.
    Blessing be upon you

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  2. I never considered pulverizing products after drying. Great tip on that one, i will give it a try this year. I really love my Cabelas brand comercial dehydrator. It is large but I do large batches of foods and the times and variable settings really help. If you are interested in larger quantities it is worth the expense. I also found "How to Dry Foods" by Deanna DeLong to be an excellent resource. Happy dehydrating!!
    Lavendarlou

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  3. Thanks to both of you for your valuable comments! We all benefit when we share our tips and experiences. Thanks so much for being a part of this blog!

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  4. This is a good post and I love your blog.Best Vacuum Sealer system is the best way to know price about food saver. I found it from Best Vacuum Sealer that was so helpfull for me.

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