Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables

The next time you go to the grocery store and they are having a great sale or your garden is overproducing, try my friend Amy's trick for easy winter soups. It seems like every time lately that I wanted to make a soup or stew, I was out of two very important soup ingredients, carrots and celery. Either they had gone bad or the grandsons had eaten them or I just plain forgot to buy them. My friend Amy told me that I should try her trick of dehydrating my vegetables. Amy loves the farmers market and when she finds fruits or vegetables on sale, she always buys more than her family needs so that she can dry some to fill the canisters on her kitchen counter and also she makes fruit roll ups for her two vegetarian teenagers.

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I was kind of skeptical if I was going to be able to do this but she taught me some neat tricks that made it a breeze. First I went to Walmart and checked out dehydrators and found that they run around $20.00. My husband found one at the Harbor Freight Company for $15.00. Harbor Freight is a tool outlet that sells all kinds of tools. They also have a website where you could order a dehydrator and E-bay has these for sale all the time.

Once I had bought my dehydrator, I really needed to decide what I was going to dehydrate. I decided I would start with celery and carrots and onions, I figured I could not mess these up too bad. Getting started was pretty easy. I washed all of them really well and then cut them into bite size pieces. The onions I cut into slices. I just laid them out on the trays and turned the dehydrator on and before I knew it (in about 12 hours) my vegetables were dry.

Now I am a jar saver. I save jars from salsa and from Miracle Whip all the time. I have even been known to buy a product just because it came in a cool jar but that is another story. One dehydrator full of carrots about half filled a Sam's brand salsa jar. Hey, I was on a roll so I finished up the carrots and moved on to the celery, Amy taught me that you can dry more than one vegetable in the dehydrator at a time so I was off and running. I learned that you need to dry vegetables that have just about the same moisture content if you are going to mix them up so carrots and celery worked great together.

I love this method of preservation because they last longer than if I had frozen them and I can keep them handy right next to my stove and I find myself throwing in a handful of these in a lot things I would normally not thought of adding it to, like spaghetti sauce or a casserole. As long as it is a wet concoction like spaghetti sauce or soup, these vegetables plump right back up and look just like fresh and taste like it too.
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On the Internet you can find many charts for approximate drying times. You can dry lots of vegetables and when the price goes sky high in the off season, you can have a supply always at hand. I now dry mushrooms as well because I love to buy fresh sliced mushrooms but I never can use the whole container before it goes bad. Now I use what I need in a salad or dish and dry the rest. No more waste and I always have them on hand.

Amy dries apples and makes banana chips for her family, Here is her quick method for making dried apples slices. She cores the apples first with a handy apple corer that you can buy at Walmart. It looks like a pie with the slices cut and a hole in the middle. You just set this down on top of the apple and push down and it cores the apple and gives you quartered apples. Now she takes the quarters and makes them into slices. Then she dips them into lemon juice to keep them a light color. If they are tart apples, she drizzles them with a little honey and pops them in to her dehydrator. You can use the same method for banana slices. She can not keep enough of these in the house, her kids and husband barely let these get done before they want to eat them.

You can also dry herbs in your dehydrator. Amy suggests using the fruit roll up tray that comes with most dehydrators only because it makes for a less messy job. But you can still use the regular trays too. She also says "Share the Wealth", dried vegetables, some beans and a vegetable bullion cube packaged in a pretty jar makes a great gift.

Happy Dehydrating!

About The Author: Debra Frick is a mother of 5 and a grandmother to 8 grandsons and one granddaughter. She is a published author and poetress. Recycling and saving money are her passions. She also loves crocheting and cooking. She is also a pet rescue volunteer and has many pets of her own.

October 19, 20070 found this helpful

I bought an Excalibur dehydrator several years ago and love it. I too dry fruit, fruit leathers and veggies. It is so nice to have my own garden veggies dried and ready for the soup or stew pot. If anyone wants a reference book I recommend "Preserve It Naturally! The complete guide to food dehydration" It is full of great info and recipes.

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October 19, 20070 found this helpful

When I dehydrated mushrooms, I found they did not reconstitute well. We put them in spaghetti sauce that cooked for three days and they were still really tough. I canned them the last time they were on sale.

A quick warning: just in case there is anyone out there with freaky food allergies like me, the dehydrator does not cook food long enough to kill anaphalxis(sp?)

I am allergic to most fresh fruits and a few veggies and nuts. After they have been cooked, no problem. I assumed the dehydrator cooked the fruit long enough. I found out the hard way that it does not. :(

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October 20, 20070 found this helpful

For free information on Dehydrating please Google Dehydrating and it will take you to lots of county extentsion offices that have PDF's that you can download for free with charts on drying times. On these sites you will also find information on freezing vegetables and fruits if like me you have no desire to can things.

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October 20, 20070 found this helpful

I am living in Mexico for the time being, I will be returning to the states next month and want to get dehydrator, this would be wonderful here. Can anyone help me with what type to get, low income here, but want to get a good one. Thanks Sherry mrsgroom AT aol.com

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October 20, 20070 found this helpful

I bought mine at Goodwill for $5.oo

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October 20, 20070 found this helpful

piki viki-Which size excalibur did you buy? That has been on my wish list for years and I'm not sure which size I need to get. I plan on getting it before next growing season.

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October 22, 20070 found this helpful

Deidre- I have the Excalibur 3000 Series with nine trays and love it. If you get one, get it with the timer. It will cost a little more but you won't need to babysit it. Also may want to get extra sheets for leathers, mine only came with one.

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October 22, 20070 found this helpful

I have the 9 tray excalibur I figured that would handle just about anything I wanted to dry. Make sure you get the teflex sheets for making leathers, check on ebay for them they are cheaper and same quality. As for getting one with a timer great idea, mine doesn't have one but when the food is dry you really don't need to let is sit to long or it will start to draw in the moister from the air and that is not good. I like to get the food out of the dryer and into jars which I vacuum seal.

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

I am doing a science fair project and the topic is, "Which Fruit Has a Greater Rate of Dehydration?" However, I am not using a dehydrator ... I am letting the fruit dehydrate on its own. Well, thats because it has to be a natural thing anyway. Still, I do not plan on eating these fruits. Haha. They are incredibally gross looking - ecpessially the banana. Volgur looking. Ugh.

Well anyway, I just wanted to throw it out there.

Thank you!

And remember - an apple a day keeps the doctor away! (as long as the apple isn't old and brown. Then you'll need the doctor) [:

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January 12, 20090 found this helpful

What is the drying time for plums ? Have old Sunbeam dryer, second hand no book and it seems no thermostat - or is there a bit missing? Any advice welcome mature male here just learning.

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September 29, 20110 found this helpful

http://www.dry-your-fruits.com/index.php/all-food-dryer-user-manuals

Hope this works just copy and past it to your address page and it has sunbeam there.

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March 9, 20160 found this helpful

What a wonderful comment! Adding these 'extra' healthy foods to recipes is a great way to get more vitamins in your meals.

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