Have you become a pro at canning? Get started with a different food preservation technique!
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Have you become a pro at canning and are now looking into other methods of food preservation as options? Did you never think canning was for you, but would like to get into food preservation somehow? Well, perhaps I’ve got just the thing for you! Dehydrating is a great method of food preservation that results in delicious foods.
“So, how do I get started?” Start by assessing how much dehydrating you are really going to do. If this is something that you would like to do occasionally, then buying a small, inexpensive dehydrator is probably your best option. These are available at most big stores. If you think you want to really get into this as a preservation method, then, something a little bigger and more thorough may be best for you. The more expensive, larger machines offer more controllability in terms of temperature and time.
The more complex machines are great for any dehydrating, but more necessary if you are looking to do things like jerky and dehydrated soups. If you just want to make dehydrated fruit and veggie snacks, then the less complex machine would be fine for you. The machine I bought last year was an Excalibur, five-tray dehydrator with temperature and time dials. I chose this specific machine based on a recommendation from a chef who has a lot of experience with dehydrating. It is a bit of an investment, but does offer a few nicer options. So before you go purchase a dehydrator, think about what you are hoping to do. Then, look into what sort of machine works best for that. Also, if you are thinking about doing fruit leather or dehydrated soups, be sure that you can get the necessary trays for drying liquids—the regular trays have holes in them. For the Excalibur, I had to purchase Paraflexx sheets.
As far as I can tell, dehydrating is a bit of a trial and error thing. Even though there are recipes, the amount of time necessary for dehydrating fully ripe foods varies from the time necessary for less ripe foods. Also, the thickness of the slices changes the time. So, don’t be surprised if you’ve set the timer for the specified time but the process isn’t quite done. If you are just getting started, I’d recommend beginning with something easier, such as plain fruits, even if you are looking to get into the more complex recipes.
I’d love to know what others out there are dehydrating. I’m looking to expand into different recipes this year. So, if you have something that you love to make or would like me to try, please let me know in the comments!