HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Dehydrator ideas?

synergy Oct 4, 2013 07:59 AM

I just bought my first dehydrator and am still a 'virgin' with it. Would love to learn from you. Please share your favorite dehydrator creations and ideas. Thanks so much!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. DuchessNukem RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:12 AM

    Oooooh. You're gonna have so much fun. :)

    What type/brand did you get?

    The "gateway" food to dry is apples, and perfect for this time of year. Core, then slice into thin rounds, dip into a dilute lemon/water solution, then onto the trays. Eight hours or longer, depending on how thick, strength of dehydrator, current humidity, position of the stars, etc. Sprinkle some cinnamon on some of them for variety.

    1. p
      Puffin3 RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:17 AM

      Now is the perfect time to dry mushrooms. My dehydrator has been working over time for a couple of weeks. If you can't find your own wild mushrooms go to a farmers market and if you can buy ten or twenty pounds. When they're dry like shoe leather put them in a food processor and 'pulse' chop them into pieces about the size of peas. Into Ziplocks then into freezer. When ever you what a delicious addition to soups/stocks/stews just a T spoon will add a lot. No need to rehydrate them b/c they are small pieces.
      I'm going out again this morning to pick more. BTW before you put them in the dryer just break them up into chunks. Makes drying easier.
      The best advice I can offer is to decide which foods you would like to dry then when these foods are locally/seasonally abundant AKA cheap collect lots and dry them.
      When blue berries were in season around here about a month ago we went to a 'you-pick' farm and got enough to dry and store in Ziplocks to last until next year's blue berry season.
      Stay away from 'watery' berries.
      Lastly we learned a long time ago to have the dehydrator outside or in a garage. The air circulates better and you won't go insane listening to the 'white-noise' all night. LOL

      1. s
        schrutefarms RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:22 AM

        If you have one with a tray (meaning no ventilating holes), try pouring a jar of sauce (apple, or any kind of fruit). A few hours later, you will have a giant fruit roll up! Also, beef jerky is super easy and fun.

        1. weezieduzzit RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:44 AM

          Ours has been getting quite a workout drying all sorts of things from the garden: tomatoes, herbs, making kale chips, peppers, etc.

          Beef jerky is easy and so good when it's home made.

          1. s
            Springhaze2 RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:45 AM

            I like to dry various types of hot peppers and make up my own chili powder mixtures and cayenne pepper. It is best to do this in a garage or shed rather than in the house because the smell is rather intense. Around here people always seem to have extra chile peppers to give away during growing season.

            I also like to dry sweet potato slices and use them as dog treats and treats for the goats. The farmer around the corner sells a large box of less than perfect sweet potatoes for $5.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Springhaze2
              synergy RE: Springhaze2 Oct 5, 2013 01:45 PM

              I've been doing thin slices of sweet potato for my dog too, in the oven - I like to get them extra crunchy for him. I've got the oven method for these down pat. :-)

              1. re: synergy
                Awwshucks RE: synergy Oct 18, 2013 01:55 AM

                Please share how you do the oven method with us for the dog treats! I don't have a dehydrator (yet!) but I have a dog!

                1. re: Awwshucks
                  synergy RE: Awwshucks Oct 20, 2013 05:02 AM

                  Set the oven to 250. Slice the sweet potato the long way. I find that the thinner you can slice them the crunchier they come out. Put on baking sheet with foil, cook for 2 hrs. Ten turn them over and cook another 2 hrs. I turn the oven off and leave them in the oven until it is completely cool. My dog loves these treats.

                  1. re: synergy
                    pine time RE: synergy Oct 31, 2013 12:10 PM

                    While I've never dried dog treats in the oven, I've dehydrated lots of other foods in a low & slow oven, including most of the home-dried foods we used while hiking the Appalachian Trail (decades ago). Oven dehydrating works just fine.

            2. w
              wapfcat RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 09:10 AM

              So far I have used mine to dehydrate sprouted grains and nuts. I sprout einkorn flour for a couple of days and then dry the berries over night (or 7 hours). I did the same with almonds.

              1. g
                gourmanda RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 09:47 AM

                Got a really good deal earlier in the season on candy onions so sliced, dried and vacuum sealed in a jar. These can be put into soup, sauce, chili, etc. or you can grind them up for onion powder. Similar with hot Hungarian peppers we grew...dried and ground into powder. Put some into chili last night--yowza! Hot stuff! Dried tomato slices when rehydrated on their own (as opposed to in chili, for example) are similar in texture to sun dried. Duchess mentioned the apple slices--they come out like candy! So sweet and nothing added to them (didn't even use a particularly sweet variety). I like the idea of sweet potato slices for dog treats!

                I put ours in a rarely used bathroom and shut the door--keeps out smell and noise. Beware if drying ghost peppers though; very toxic and best to do outside.

                1. Emme RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 10:36 AM

                  we use it in waves... we get on a kick :)

                  fruit leather is a big one. healthy easy snack for OH. and easy for me to make. and easily seasonal.

                  he likes beef jerky or turkey jerky. we play around with marinades. when our eggplants come out of the garden, i plan to marinate them like jerky and see what comes of the drying...

                  i've made a number of veggie chips, but frankly, they're faster and just as good if not better, when done in the microwave...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Emme
                    DuchessNukem RE: Emme Oct 4, 2013 11:35 AM

                    Oo! Oo! Emme, eggplant bacon! Shockingly good. I can't find my reference recipe but here's a couple of reasonable variants:


                    I have added a dash of smoke seasoning also.

                    1. re: DuchessNukem
                      Emme RE: DuchessNukem Oct 4, 2013 08:12 PM


                  2. Ttrockwood RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 06:13 PM

                    This link has some great recipes including several versions of kale chips (soooo much better than those over priced ones at the store!) and some raw "burgers" and crackers

                    1. Cherylptw RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 06:29 PM

                      apples, blueberries, cherries (pitted or halved), raspberries, blackberries. Citrus peels dried make great ground to add to cakes, etc.

                      green beans, sliced squashes like zucchini, yellow, butternut; green peas, thinly sliced sweet potatoes, peppers & chilies. All are perfect for soups. Ground sweet potato or butternut squash make interesting coatings for meats & fish.

                      1. JMF RE: synergy Oct 4, 2013 08:43 PM

                        Jerky, fruit, jerky, fruit leather, jerky, yogurt fruit leather, zucchini chips, zucchini "raisins"... http://www.nourishingtreasures.com/in...

                        Slice bananas, dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning and add tang, then dipped in a 1 part honey to 2 parts water mixture. Tastes incredible, like the best banana taffy ever. Do the same with cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Any melon.

                        1. s
                          synergy RE: synergy Oct 5, 2013 01:51 PM

                          Wow, great suggestions everyone-thanks! Before I read them all , this morning I put in red peppers, yellow peppers, slices of garlic cloves, grape tomatoes and halved plum tomatoes with oregano, parsley, red hot pepper flakes and a touch of Romano cheese sprinkled on them. I set it for 7 hrs. It's still going , and yes, the white noise can be annoying. :-)

                          1. FoodWacky RE: synergy Oct 5, 2013 05:43 PM

                            You'll LOVE your dehydrator!! We use ours constantly, and really enjoy making spicy beef jerky from extra lean ground beef. www.FoodWacky.com

                            1. picholine RE: synergy Oct 6, 2013 03:59 PM

                              I've done strawberries and peaches earlier in the summer. Now I'm drying herbs, sliced tomatoes, apples and pears. Last year I dehydrated beets and kale as well.
                              Love my dehydrator! :-)

                              1. geminigirl RE: synergy Oct 7, 2013 04:22 AM

                                Just washed mine and putting it away for the winter.... My favorites are peaches, apples, sundried tomoatoes.

                                1. s
                                  synergy RE: synergy Oct 7, 2013 01:25 PM

                                  The peppers came out ok. The dog likes them better than I do, so lucky him, they'll be treats. The tomatoes came out GREAT. Haven't tried the garlic yet, but the smell terrific.

                                  Keep any suggestions coming, and thank you so much, everyone!

                                  1. Dax RE: synergy Oct 7, 2013 01:37 PM

                                    Anyone want to elaborate on their beef or turkey jerky recipes? Cut, marinade, process, etc.

                                    Also, I assume if you marinate then you dry the meat(s) before dehydrating?

                                    1. r
                                      Ravenlyn01 RE: synergy Oct 14, 2013 12:46 PM

                                      You may be sorry you asked by now! Along with much of the below, I also buy organic Black Angus beef liver from my local farmer, cut it up small, and make liver treats for my dog. It works best if I do really thin sheets or pieces on the screen, which makes easy "snapping" lines so I can break them even smaller.

                                      1. o
                                        ospreycove RE: synergy Oct 20, 2013 05:36 AM

                                        This year we had a "bumper" crop of Ema, the Bhutanese hot red pepper. I slit the pepper and spread it open, dried in a dehydrator for about 8 hours. I crushed some and kept the others whole. Using a temp of about 125*F produced a dried chile that remained as red as the fresh chile before drying.
                                        I use the fresh as well as the dried in many dishes, The heat of these Bhutanese chiles is similiar to that of a Jalapeno or Chile de Arbol. Very tasty!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ospreycove
                                          pine time RE: ospreycove Oct 31, 2013 12:13 PM

                                          How are you using your dried Emas? May consider growing them next year.

                                          We did a combo of drying strategies for our habaneros and ghost chilies--oven drying and air drying (ristras)--both worked just fine.

                                        2. h
                                          Hector_G RE: synergy Oct 30, 2013 09:40 AM

                                          I've been drying peppers like crazy. Just a tip, do it in a ventilated space. I'm making beet chips, specially with chioggia and golden ones. These varieties are less earthy, pretty to look at and doesn't stain everything, like the regular red ones. You can also make butternut squash and sweet potato chips. I make eggplant "bacon" with purple dancer ones, as the skin feels thinner. Beef jerky is great. I make my jerky at the same time I dry some of my spiciest peppers, so it gets infused with the heat. I hope this helps. Have fun and play with your food!

                                          1. s
                                            synergy RE: synergy Oct 30, 2013 10:54 AM

                                            I finally tried zucchini. Sliced it with a mandolin and they came out great. Paper thin. Also tried using the mandolin for peppers and they came out a little too thin. Adjusted the setting and tried again - 2nd time was a hit. Ate them on my turkey sandwich today.

                                            1. FoodWacky RE: synergy Oct 30, 2013 03:35 PM

                                              I LOVE my dehydrator, and I'm sure you'll love yours too!

                                              My favorite thing is to make lean ground beef jerky. I've worked out a recipe that is much lower in sodium than most jerky, has a nice hot spicy bite to it and just tastes sooo good.

                                              My grandson told me yesterday that he likes it better than any store bought, and loves the fact that it's easier to chew too!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: FoodWacky
                                                Dax RE: FoodWacky Oct 31, 2013 09:29 AM

                                                Care to share your recipe?

                                              Show Hidden Posts