Lately I have been adding to my stored food supply with my dehydrator. I was fortunate to find a great dehydrator on my Amazon Review trader site. The cost was 1/2 the cost of the original price and I couldn’t pass it up. I did the normal fruit to start but now I am getting brave to try all kinds of things. I did some reading on all things dehydrated and so I took the plunge and started. The first thing I tried was pineapple and wow it was awesome. The local Aldi’s had pineapples for $1 so I bought two and cut them up and put in the dehydrator. It took a lot longer than I thought but it did turn out wonderful and tasted great. Trying to judge how long to dehydrate is not always easy and you will learn how long certain things take to fully dehydrate. Use the recommended time and then check to see how they are coming along. If not done you will need to add time. So I started by adding 2 hours at a time till I got it to the stage it should be. Then I found out that it has a lot to do with humidity in the air and we have had a lot of rain over the past two months. That will add time to your dehydrating time as well.
My dehydrator has 8 trays, a timer and a temperature setting knob. It is easy to use and a great dehydrator for any food. I have found that the trays, though large, have a lot of holes in them so dehydrating small items requires you to use tray liners. I did not buy the tray liners when I purchased it and of course I needed one for some cherries that I tried. What to use? I looked online to see what other people used and they recommended parchment paper, well don’t have any of that right now. Now what am I going to do? I do have a large amount of Teflon baking liners that I bought years ago. Wasn’t sure if they would work but I thought I would give them a try. To my surprise they worked great. The sheets are made for cookie sheets so they are just perfect for the dehydrator trays. I have a few large sheets and I had to trim a couple of them so I had enough for my trays and I can still use them on my cookie sheets. I wish they still made them but for whatever reason they just never went over and they quit making them.
So today I feel the need to get the dehydrator out and get busy. I need to make some things for my son to use for his store he is starting. I thought I would make some things that can be added together to make meals. Today I will be doing carrots and celery because they are staples for most dehydrated soups etc. The nice things about my dehydrator is that I can do two like products at the same time. So I will get these two done today and then move on to the chicken and beef tomorrow.
For the carrots you really need to wash them first, before you do anything else because you don’t want to contaminate your produce with dirt or anything before we even get started. Then you can peel them if you like, its not necessary but I like the look of them without the peel. I am going to grate my carrots because they are just for taste in my meals but you can also slice them if you wish as well. Remember that anything you put in the dehydrator needs to be sliced less than 1/4″ pieces or it will take longer to dry. But for today we are going to grate our carrots. It is recommend that you blanch them for 2-3 minutes before placing in the dehydrator, to remain the bright color of the carrots. It also eliminates any bacteria or enzymes that may have been left behind after washing. After blanching immediately put in ice water or rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Then I grate them and place them on a tea towel or paper towels to dry them for a little while before putting them in the dehydrator. After 1/2 hour you can start placing them on the lined trays. With most things you need to leave a space between your pieces but with grated carrots because they are so thin you can just spread them out in a single layer per tray. Start your dehydrator at this point because it will work so much faster if it is preheated. Set the dehydrator at 125 and dehydrate for 6 to 10 hours or until crisp. To check if they are done, take one out let it cool and try to snap in half. If they bend they are not done and put back in for an hour at a time. Let the carrots cool in the dehydrator before bagging. Once they are cool, remove from trays and put in bags. At this time put the bags in the freezer for 2 weeks to complete the process. This will help them stay fresher longer. I mark my bags of the day I processed because I constantly have a rotation of bags in my freezer and can not always remember when I processed them. After two weeks you can place in mason jars to store or you can vacuum seal them. Depending on how many I make I do both so that I have for future use and for daily use.
Also going in the dehydrator is our celery. You will need to wash it very good or use produce spray to clean it. Then you can slice it or chop it, however you prefer to use it. If you are making celery powder or celery salt just go ahead and chop it up. No need to cut off the bottom end it will grind up and process just like the rest and then nothing goes to waste. Spread out the celery on your trays and process at the same temperature as the carrots 125 to 135 for 10-12 hours. Again the pieces should snap when they are completely dried. Allow to cool in the dehydrator and then place in jars or bags. If you are making the salt or powder place in a coffee grinder or blender and pulse till completely powder form. Then place in mason jars for storage. If you are making celery salt place 1/2 cup dried celery powder and 1/2- 1 teaspoon of salt, depending on your taste and pulse in your grinder. I save old spice jar and remove the labels so I can put my homemade spice blend in them. You can also use mason jars or baby food jars work great also.
So take some time and have fun. Most of the work is in prepping and you can prep it ahead of time and throw in the dehydrator overnight whenever you have a chance. It is easy and fun and above all else it is a great way to use up produce that might otherwise get thrown out.
Thanks for your time and let me know if you have any questions or comments.