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What Have You Put In Your Dehydrator?

My son, having recently been discharged from the Navy is now in school in Seattle and didn't come home for Christmas so I sent him a goodie basket with his gifts. He loves my Caribbean Jerk Seasoning blend that I make from scratch. So, I used the dehydrator to dry the ginger, jalapeno, scallions, onions, garlic, cilantro, lime rind etc. that goes into it. Once combined with allspice, thyme and the other spices, it was ground up and bottled. When he opened his basket yesterday, he was loving the smell of it and excited to use it.

While I was in dehydrator mode, I decided to dry ingredients for a later soup blend. I thinly sliced sweet potato, onion, etc for the soup, dehydrated and bagged it up. I had a bag of spinach from the store that I needed to do something with but knew I was not going to use it before it turned, so I dehydrated the spinach and bagged it up. I found myself looking for stuff to dehydrate....

How often do you use your dehydrator and what do do you dry?

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  1. sadly i gave mine away when i left the East coast, because my new kitchen just doesn't have the space for it :( but i used to love dehydrating fresh, in-season fruit. no preservatives, it's more economical than buying it already dried, and you can control the sweetness/sugar and even flavor it any way you want to.

    you can do fruit, veggies, herbs, peppers, meat/jerky...even tofu.

    see these threads for ideas (there are even more if you search):
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548980
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/479379
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/307153
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/417130
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/622849
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/569080
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667135
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/635649

    happy drying!

    1. i love doing up red bell peppers ,thin sliced and very tasty.i use them for everything,sort of like sun dried tomatoes

      1. I gave drying fresh figs a try this summer and was super happy with the results.
        Typically I dry tomatoes, pineapple, apple, oranges, mushrooms, peaches, pears,
        peppers, onions, herbs, edible flowers and flower arrangements that have past their prime for craft projects and repurposed gifts. The genius of dehydrators, love mine.

        11 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          I've been wanting to dry apples; did you dip them in an acid like lemon juice first?

          1. re: Cherylptw

            Actually the only "dip" I use on fruit is apple juice not lemon. I use it as a wash if you will prior to laying the indiv. pieces of fruit in the "dryer."

            1. re: HillJ

              I'm going to try that tomorrow; thanks for the tip!

              1. re: Cherylptw

                I dried fresh lemons today. I add bits to granola mixes that my kids enjoy.

                1. re: HillJ

                  I have apples in the dehydrator now, but tell me about the lemons...did you thinly slice them or just dry the rind. I sent my son some granola for Xmas but I just used dried cherries, cranberries and currrants and nuts..If you used thin slices, did you just crumble it into the granola? My son loved what I sent him that I think I'm going to make different variations...thanks for your help!

                  1. re: Cherylptw

                    Cheryl, i can't speak for HillJ, but when i dry lemons i just slice them thinly, skin/rind and all. once dried, you can chop up some of the slices and add to your granola or other baked goods...they're wonderful in berry muffins! you can even stir some into yogurt.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Sounds wonderful! Okay, but how bitter is the pith once dried? It would be fine for baked goods but I'm concerned about the bitterness in yogurt or granola (which my kid loves)

                      1. re: Cherylptw

                        honestly you don't notice any bitterness from the pith. i think it's because the lemon flavor from the oils in the rind and the juice get so concentrated. if you're at all concerned, though, you can sweeten them a bit before drying, or "candy" the slices after they're dried.

                        also, i didn't stress this in my earlier reply but it's important to slice them as *thinly* as possible. otherwise the rind will be unpleasantly tough/chewy.

                          1. re: Cherylptw

                            great - let us know how it turns out!

                            for the record, you can use the slices to flavor savory, saucy dishes as well - simmer them in the cooking liquids and just remove before serving. you can also steep them in your tea.

        2. I just got my dehydrator this past fall for drying home grown tomatoes. My more recent project was fun-- I thinly sliced organic mandarin oranges, dried them, and then blitzed them to a powder with a little salt and sugar for a seasoning. It's neat stuff. I can't wait to put it in sugar cookies.

          Edited to add that the slices are skin, pith and all.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Vetter

            Vetter, clever idea! I bet sprinkled over a gooey cake the infused/mandarin orange sugar would be great too.

            1. re: HillJ

              aah, so you've never "blitzed" your lemon slices into a powder, then. try it with any citrus - lemon, lime, grapefruit...you can combine the powder with sugar, cocoa, or powdered sugar and use it to dust everything from chocolate truffles to cakes.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I was thinking agave flakes or raw sugar and hitting the torch :) but I love your suggestions.

          2. Cherylptw, agree on all counts above. I remove pits prior to drying. The dried lemons are terrific in granola. If you don't enjoy the skin tho you can dry the lemons peeled as well.

            Today I'm drying Florida grapefruits; we add the fruit to hot cereal-super tasty! In the case of grapefruits, I peel and clean the individual segments to dry.

            1. My husband and I are avid backpackers and use the dehydrator to make yummy meals - believe it or not, spaghetti with marinara sauce dries great, and tastes delicious when reconstituted on the trail. Bean-based dips are also a favorite.

              3 Replies
              1. re: paisley05

                That's interesting! Do tell me about your dehydrated spaghetti & sauce...how do you dehydrate the sauce? And any other info would be enlightening....thanks!

                1. re: Cherylptw

                  Yes, I'd enjoy learning more as well. I have referred to this blogger and the sites on dehydration they have recommended but there is so much to learn and experiment with.

                  http://sectionhiker.com/2009/06/30/be...

                  1. re: HillJ

                    We are usually strapped for time before we head out, so we usually buy a plain marinara with no veggies or meat because it will dry faster. (I am also concerned about the safety of drying the meat too.) Typically, we cook thin pasta (undercook by a minute or two), toss with the sauce and herbs, and then spread on parchment paper rings in the dehydrator. After the food is dry we break it up into smaller pieces and store in ziplocks. I think the meal tastes better this way rather than drying the sauce separately because the sauce soaks into the pasta a bit while it dries.

                    To reconstitute, just add about enough boiling water to equal the amount of food in the bag, insulate with something (a coat, a coozie, a bandana, etc), and just let it sit for five to ten minutes. For a boost, we add mushies or other veggies that we previously tossed with herbs and dried separately. If we are close to the trailhead (i.e., have enough energy to carry heavy food), sometimes we have parm or summer sausage that can be cubed up and added for some protein.

                    salsa is also easy to dry too.

                    If you google freezer bag cooking you will find lots of links...check out http://www.trailcooking.com for inspiration - after searching the web and reading some dehydrating books from the library, I have tried to take yummy recipes and adapt them to the trail via the dehydrator - a little bit of water and poof - a semi gourmet meal :) (and instant friends at shelters too!

                    )

                    happy trails!