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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.