Monday, 9 June 2014

Beginning dehydrating

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Yesterday morning found me in the kitchen early, preparing fruit to dehydrate. Apricots were halved, stoned, halved again into quarters, dipped into a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water, excess flicked off and laid, skin side down. We nabbed a bargain 2 mangoes, they were also peeled and thinly sliced.

After the lemon treatment, they went in. 3 1/2 trays were used at the beginning and we ended up with 1.5 trays. The garden yielded just one strawberry so that went in for a trial dry.  I also wanted to do mushrooms but have no idea if the scent of each thing transfers during drying, they'll be done tomorrow instead.

There are many helpful blog's and video's around but in the end, I settled on one blog that suggested beginning drying at 145F for the first hour, then turning the dehydrator down to its normal setting.

The timer was set for the first hour. It was put back on for 5 hours for testing the strawberry, then was reset for the mango, and finally the apricots.

I cannot begin to describe how lovely the whole house smells, a heavy base scent of mango with a nice top note of apricot!

Here was the first tray after being prepared and soaked in lemon/water juice:
Here they are after drying. The mango slices were cooled, then stored in the zipper plastic bags overnight. If there is condensation in the bag in the morning, they are not dry enough, these were fine:
The apricots were cooled, one cut in half and squeezed like mad. No juice so they were also find.
Here are the mangoes stored in their jar:
I'm not planning on doing apricots as they are relatively cheap to buy. These were slightly sour after drying but I did them so they can be added to apricot jam when I make it. I'm hoping to experiment between plain drying and those that have a honey/syrup base to sweeten them - which unfortunately adds calories! I'm really looking forward to trying frozen and tinned fruit (both in juice and light syrup) to see the differences. Also fancy melon and water melon.

More vegetables might be done although at the moment, my main interest is mushrooms and tomatoes, which intensifies their taste. Elaine Collier has dried some chard leaves the other day and whizzed them into powder. I'm hoping to do the same with some of the above. Very little powder will result but apparently, you use it as a seasoning and it adds a huge amount of zing to dishes.

Then there are the herbs, Rosemary, Sage, Oregano are the main ones in my garden to try. I've also looked up recipes for raw energy bars that are partially dried.

The main aim for us in dehydrating food, is to try and store things that are not readily available commercially, such as greengages, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, as well as fruit and vegetable powders which I have never seen. We don't want to keep buying everything so will be looking to grow and dry some of what we need. Watch this space!

10 comments:

  1. How much electricity does this use and how much noise does it make. I visited someone once with one running and it was a horrible loud hum. Couldn't be doing with that for 5 hours!

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  2. Whilst trialling, I am dehydrating during the day so each batch costs around 6p per hour, it will be half that for overnight drying. Noise wise, a lot less than a hair-dryer, similar to the noise the fans on our plasma tv make whilst in use. Not invasive as such but it is in the spare bedroom, so don't hear it at all. Like I said, in the end, it will be primarily used for dried foods we can't find easily in the shops, especially our own dried fruits.

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  3. Which model did you go for in the end? Are they easy to clean? sorry I have sooooo many questions

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  4. I love the idea of drying your own fruit, dried mango slices are really expensive to buy, I know you havent grown those but its good to be able to take advantage of buying them cheaply too. If the dryer is too noisy you could use your walking days to do the job whilst out having fun. I hope the advantages outweigh the noise problem, I'm sure they will. Xx

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    1. I don't have a problem with the noise Karen, I made sure I went for one of the quieter models. I'm hoping to do it overnight in the conservatory to keep the costs as low as possible. The mango slices are lovely, maybe not as chewy as the bought ones but it is nice to know that everything I process is natural rather than sulfured or covered in chemicals.

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  5. I take my hat off to you DC. You do have some interesting ideas and it would be great to preserve these foods for the times you cant normally buy them reasonably priced in the shops.

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    1. I'm just hoping they are done correctly and don't go mouldy!

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  6. This sounds great DC and look forward to hearing more ideas and how you finally enjoy the "fruits" of your labour. x

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