Dehydrate To Preserve Food

Reader Contribution by Lanette Lepper
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Many years ago, when I was still single and bees, chickens, and gardens weren’t even a twinkle in my eye, I bought myself a dehydrator.  It was the cheapest model the big-box store had to offer.  I used it to dry apples, and make jerky, and not much else.  Mostly, it stayed it its box until many years later when I got bit by the ‘real food’ bug and had a husband and kids to feed.  It was around this time when I stumbled upon Dehydrate2Store.

The brain-child of Tammy Gangloff, this website held the answer to every dehydrating question I had.  I spent hours watching Tammy’s videos, gleaning ideas and dehydrating all kinds of foods I never would have thought to dry.  You should have seen my triumphant face the day I scored pie pumpkins on clearance, and then fit 5 of them in a quart jar as ‘powdered pumpkin.’  When Santa asked what I wanted for Christmas, the answer came quickly and easily that year… “An Excalibur!”

The new dehydrator meant I could dehydrate more produce at one time, which was fortuitous.  Shortly thereafter, we moved from Chicagoland to coastal Virginia, where fresh fruits and veggies are available just about all year long.  The dehydrator is running more often than it isn’t.  On any given day, we eat several types of dehydrated foods… the kids take fruit leather or dehydrated apples to snack on at school, I use chopped veggies in soups and casseroles, hubby enjoys the dried fruit in his morning oatmeal or granola, we add dried herbs from the garden to our homemade pizza… the list goes on and on.

I am so enamored with dehydrating that one of the classes I teach as a Master Gardener is entitled “Dehydrating Throughout the Year.”  Many people are surprised at not only WHAT can be dehydrated, but HOW it can be used. One of the resources I recommend to the attendees is the Dehydrate2Store website, because I believe it is the most comprehensive dehydrating site there is, especially for visual learners who like to see it before they attempt it.  

You can imagine my excitement, then, when I learned that Tammy recently published The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook.  Not only does it talk about the hows and whys of dehydrating, it also includes hundreds of recipes using dehydrated food.  I’ve been dehydrating herbs all summer, hoping to use them in teas.  Lo and behold, there is an entire section on this in her book!  From camping foods to holiday feasts, there is something for everyone… and from now on, this is the book I will be recommending.

If you haven’t tried dehydrating yet, I encourage you to give it a go.  Dehydrators are relatively inexpensive and are an invaluable tool on the homestead (you can even build your own solar dryer!)  If you’re a dehydrating pro, I encourage you to branch out and see what else you can be doing with your appliance.  There’s always something new to learn and someone new to share it with! 

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