The Fundamentals of Dehydrating

Dehydrating is an excellent, uncomplicated way of preserving food and making delicious snacks.  Regardless of whether you want to dehydrate vegetables, herbs, fruit, or meat even your most basic dehydrator can handle the job.

Having never dehydrated before, but wanting to give it a whirl I brouht home the Nesco “Snackmaster,” our four-tray, 500 watt dehydrator.  I had several large zucchini that had swollen to twice the normal eating size while we were away on vacation, and figured they would be a great test product.  The Nesco dehydrators each come with a super handy and informational guide about how to prepare a wide range of products for dehydrating.  For the zucchini I learned that if you are dehydrating with the intent to store it, it should be blanched first to ensure that vital nutrients are preserved.  If you are making something like kale chips that you intend to eat immediately you can just go right a head and dehydrate the fresh produce, no need to blanch.  It’s important to remember also, that when you are preparing your veggies to slice them evenly so they will dehydrate at the same rate.  I cut my zucchini into about 3/8 inch slices (I later figured out that if I wanted to reduce the drying time I could have sliced them into thinner slices).  After slicing the zucchini, I then quickly blanched the slices and then patted them dry.  Then I layered the slices into the dehydrator, making sure the zucchini slices didn’t touch so that the air could flow easily around them.  I followed the temperature settings, set the dehydrator to the correct temperature and then turned it on and let it go.  It was that easy.  The instruction manual has recommended dehydrating times, so you can just follow those, the zucchini took about eight hours to finish.

Courtesy of Shift Sustainable Home Goods