Drying The Bounty

I have a new tool to help me store the current abundance of fruits and veggies our garden produces. Although it’s new to me, many folks around the world regularly use dehydrators to help preserve all kinds of food. I went for a model that isn’t too much of a splurge, uncertain of just how big a fan I’ll become.dehy

I blanch and freeze many crops for year round consumption, from broccoli to kale to green beans to cauliflower. Freezing is an excellent way to preserve vitamins, but at certain times of year, freezer space is at a premium.  Other crops I store in sauces and jams, from apples to berries to tomatoes. There’s plenty of produce that doesn’t resuscitate from freezing or canning very deliciously, at least not to my liking, so a dehydrator comes in handy. Harvest season has me appreciating this new tool.

So far I’ve run it three times — two times for apple rings and another for beet and zucchini chips. Yum! For those who aren’t familiar with dehydrators, the temperature is adjustable, and you simply let it run for differing lengths of time, depending on the water content and thickness of food you’re drying.

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Hubby, who normally shies away from cooking, has been a big help on his break from teaching. He peels the apples, I slice them and arrange them on the machine’s trays, then he sprinkles them with cinnamon. He’s got upcoming bag lunches and snacks in mind! After the beets and squash were sliced, I tossed them with spices like garlic powder and smoked paprika before dehydrating.

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I run the dehydrator in the laundry room, where it sits by its cousin the clothes dryer and its cousin’s grandpa, the clothes drying rack.

By the way, there’s an undiscovered (perhaps better that way?) world of dehydrating fanatics on YouTube. Most of them are preparing for a big disaster, while I’m just trying to store this year’s harvest. The local Food Bank welcomes most of my fresh, extra produce, but at times they are inundated with apples and zucchini, and the volunteers have to try extra hard not to roll their eyes when they see me approaching…

I have plans for lots of dried pears, apples, and plums. Fruit leather is easy to make with trays the dehydrator came with, and our abundance of eggs can even be dried. I’ll try drying chunks of squash and carrots for use in soups and stews through the winter. My current crop of Walla Walla sweet onions looks too large to use up before they spoil, so I’ll probably try dehydrating onions, even though I usually dice and freeze those.

I can’t grow bananas, pineapples, peaches, or apricots, but all of those dried will make yummy snacks. At this point I don’t have plans to dehydrate meat or to make jerky, but a vegetarian backpacking meal is definitely going to be in my repertoire before long.1

9 thoughts on “Drying The Bounty

  1. What a fun new appliance. This part “where it sits by its cousin the clothes dryer and its cousin’s grandpa, the clothes drying rack.” of your post made me smile. I keep dehydrated onions on hand for cooking so if I run out of fresh I don’t have to run to the store mid cooking to get some. I have a good recipe for an apricot pie that uses dried apricots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too laughed with the cousin and cousin’s grandpa comment. I can’t imagine having so much surplus out of my garden (I don’t grow a lot of veg) and to me it’s indicative of the huge amount of work you must do in yours.

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  3. I am still not certain if I am a fan, and mine has been around for years. It helps that it is a very old model. Because I remember when apricots and prunes were put out in the big drying yards, the appliance seems like cheating to me. However, it helps with really squishy fruits or fruits that do not ripen in the summer, such as persimmons. I would not want to leave them out in the weather, both because they take a while to dry, but also because they take even longer while the weather is cool and damp at the time that they ripen. Apples might dry just fine outside if they ripened in summer, but because they ripen so late, it is better to dry them in the dehydrator.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Cindy. Most days I’m thankful to have the energy I need. In this Pacific Northwest climate we have quite a few grey months on the horizon, so indoor hobbies keep things interesting!

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