As I continue to attempt vegetable chips and dried herbs in my oven, and as I continue to have issues with the end product (burning, uneven cooking, etc.), I eventually wondered how I could refine the process even more. Save money, have less waste, you know… because I want to actually eat the stuff I make at the end of the day.
(Sometimes I share, too, to which my coworkers can attest.)
It occurred to me, then, as I proceeded to burn an entire batch of turnip chips, that an old roommate of mine often swore by his dehydrator, especially for preserving summer fruits or making jerky for hikes and festivals.
Well, why not? I thought, and thus I sauntered down the rabbit hole.
While I’ve learned to enjoy fruit over the years, I don’t tend to eat a lot of it at one time. Freezing food has its perks, and it doesn’t typically require special equipment, but I found that some of my attempts end up with freezer burn, or the flavors just don’t last. Furthermore, many items need to be blanched and dried prior to freezing, which adds even more time and prep.
Could I be doing it wrong? Well, sure. Highly likely, in fact. But the other issue lies in the exceptionally tiny real estate offered by my freezer — I find that I need to rotate through the contents rather quickly, else I run out of space in a blink.
Pantry space is something I can play with a bit more, by contrast, especially if I combine dehydrating with a vacuum sealer and purchase a few more glass jars for herb and mushroom storage.
I’ve considered canning as an alternative for food preservation in the past; however, it seems a lot more involved and hands-on. In addition, the horror stories about botulism give me the heebie-jeebies, Batman.
The less I have to mess with something, I’ve found, the better off the end product. As I gain experience and confidence, I’ll likely feel better trying more complex processes. That’s how I got into baking, after all!
Which leads me (though in a rather winding, circuitous fashion) to the oven-as-dehydrator problem: I have to watch it like a hawk, since the lowest temperature option is a lot higher than that typically used for dehydration. I’m also (understandably, I think) nervous about potentially leaving an oven on all night to finish a project. It’s also a high power consumer.
And so I searched, and read, and made notes about popular dehydrator brands, cross-checked them with sources I trusted (such as America’s Test Kitchen), and finally settled on a basic starter model that cost less than $100. While many reviewers expressed concerns about the quality, there seemed to be enough positive reviews in counterpoint to justify the trial.
What did I buy? You’ll just have to see! I’ll do an unboxing post once the unit arrives, followed by a first round of dehydrating with the first fruits of the season — apricots and apriums!
I’m excited to start a new round of projects revolving around dehydrating food! Any suggestions of what I should try? Any big no-nos? Let me know in the comments!
Stay tuned for the unboxing! 😁