I wanted to begin dehydrating foods. Josh has had this food dehydrator for years. He used to use it to make beef jerky, but in the time we’ve known each other, it’s never been used. I decided to pull it out of the closet and learn how to use it. Believe me, I’ve eaten my fair share of dried fruits, how hard could it be?
While we are not the type of homesteaders who are “preppers”, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being prepared. As we learned during “The Freeze” (say this to any Texan and they will know what you’re talking about), during times of bad weather, the grocery stores are very limited. Not only in store hours but availability of product. The HEB warehouse is in San Antonio. If the roads are bad, the trucks can’t move product. If the roads are bad, the employees can’t make it to open the store. In these cases, it helps to have a backup of things you use the most.
If you’ve never dehydrated anything before, try it. It really is simple! The hardest part? The waiting! Most things take around 12 hours or so to completely dehydrate, but can sometimes take 24 hours or even longer (ahem, frozen cherries…). The process of dehydrating basically cooks your item at a low temperature to remove all of the moisture. You want to make sure your item is completely dehydrated though, or it can mold. The best way I found to determine if it’s fully dehydrated is the condensation test. You take a piece of whatever you are dehydrating and immediately, while still hot, place it either in a small glass jar with a lid or a sandwich baggie and seal it. After about five minutes of sitting, if there is no condensation formed or forming on the walls of the jar or on the baggie, your item is fully dehydrated and ready for long term storage. If you’re going to use up your item within the next year, you can just use a mason jar to store. If you’re hoping for longer storage, you will need to use a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber to keep things fresh for longer. I learned that there are some things that are amazing dehydrated (peaches… yum!), and some things are not (I’m looking at you, Kiwi!).
We really like to purchase the Betty Crocker Au Gratin potato mixes. I like that they are an easy side dish to put in the oven when I’m using the oven for our main course. One night we were eating them, and I said to Josh, “These potatoes are just dehydrated potatoes, aren’t they?” He agreed that they were. I decided I wanted to try making my own Au Gratin potato mix.
I sliced the potatoes with my mandolin, blanched them and dehydrated them. I searched the internet for a recipe for the powder mix that comes with the potatoes, and finally found one that I liked. I was super pleased with how these came out!
Stay tuned for my next task… canning!