What do you use your dehydrator for?
My wife is keen to get a dehydator for herbs. I was wondering if anyone else had one of these, and what you use it for. I like the idea of having fresh herbs all year round, but not quite sure that justifies $60 and some counter space. Any thoughts?
I use mine anytime I have more of something fresh than I can use.
Lately I've been drying figs and cherry tomatoes. I can seldom use an entire head(?) of celery, so I always dice half of it and dehydrate. It gives a nice intense celery flavor to soups and stews.
I found it very useful when I was a member of a CSA - there was just way more food than we could go through in a week.
Much of the year my dehydrator is stored away, But during the summer it stays out and in use quite a bit.
I used to have a friend who used hers to make fruit leathers for her kids lunchboxes. She also had a beef jerky recipe which called for ground beef. So many of her husbands co-workers wanted it that she ended up with a modest little side business making it for them! (I don't think I ever got that recipe from her.)
Food dehydrator is on my wishlist. I am in Israel right now and they are so expensive here. $60 is cheap in comparison. I think they start around $150 or so and probably not even great ones. A friend of makes her own vegetable bouillon soup powder and it is like magic soup powder. Most of those soup powders have MSG, oils, sugars, and lots of other unhealthy things but things that make it taste good so I was very skeptical. Her soup powder is just as good and even better. She dehydrates a huge variety of vegetables and then pulses it in the food processor. She uses some vegetables that I would not even think of putting in a soup powder but somehow it just really tastes amazing.
I'm with Meatn3 in that mine is stored most of the year but has been working hard this summer. (Will try to remember your suggestion about the celery!) To go along with it I bought a FoodSaver at a good discount and love it so far.
Dried tomatoes--either completely dry for cupboard storage or akin to sun-dried tomatoes from the store which will keep a little while in the refrigerator or for a long while frozen. Used some in place of store-bought this past weekend and the flavor was great! Works for cherry or sliced regular tomatoes. Dried 4 ears of sweet corn and now it's in a pint jar waiting for corn chowder this winter. Dried hot peppers or sweet peppers. They won't have the same consistency as fresh when you rehydrate them but I'm thinking they will be fabulous in soup , chili and the like. And around here you can buy a half-bushel for 60 cents a pound--much cheaper than the grocery store and they are local and organic!
Sliced mushroms, (Costco...grrrrrrr)
Herbs, (mostly cilantro, parsley and bay leaves)
In addition to tomatoes, herbs and veggies for soups, its great for kale chips and beef jerky.
This is the jerky recipe I use:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2T worcestershire sauce
2T liquid smoke
2-3T brown sugar
1-2t. ground black pepper (or more!)
1t unseasoned meat tenderizer
1t garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1t onion powder
mix together and pour over meat, marinade at least 8 hours (overnight works great.)
The time in the dehydrator depends on how thick you cut the meat. I start checking it at 5 hours and pull the pieces out as they are ready but your dehydrator might be hotter/ cooler so keep an eye on it until you get the times you like down.
Honestly, I don't know how much meat. If whatever I've bought doesn't look like it has enough marinade I make more marinade. I've used any big hunk of meat that's on sale from london broil to roasts. I marinate at least overnight so I've never had any cut of meat not be tender.
I slice it with a meat slicer but if you don't have one, you can partially freeze it and slice- carefully- with a large serrated knife. Thickness is a preference thing keeping in mind it gets thinner as it dehydrates and thicker slices take longer to dehydrate. Slice with the grain so it doesn't fall apart.