Pro tip: going to Costco while hungry is never a good idea. I may have let my stomach fill the cart and I somehow ended up lugging a giant box of strawberries, multiple pounds of kiwis, a flat of raspberries, and another flat of apricots into my apartment. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’d know that my only roommates are my two dogs- not the best partners for attempting to eat what feels like a thousand pounds of fruit before it goes bad. Enter my (well, more like my stolen-from-my-mother) Excalibur dehydrator!
Dehydrating food is incredibly simple. In this case, fruit of your choice, a little bit of lemon juice, and water is all you need to make some incredible recipes that last for ages! I’ll be talking all about fruit in this post, but you can dehydrate everything from herbs to meat to preserve them without all the nasty chemicals! (Stay tuned for dehydrating recipes from my garden this summer!)
Tools You’ll Need: Dehydrator Basics
Before anything else you need a dehydrator, mine is a giant 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator that is super high end (and a bit pricey) but there are SO many different options to choose from, from the super small counter top dehydrators, a great sized medium variety or the industrial ones like mine. They all work the same way- the only difference are the presets and the capacity! Most dehydrators come with mesh trays which are great for everything except for liquids, so if you plan on making fruit leather, make sure to get the non-stick dehydrator sheets as well! Some people also have ovens that you can set at a super low temperature, if yours is like that, great! But mine definitely doesn’t have a temperature setting low enough!
For fruit leather a food processor is super helpful, but a blender works as well! Mine is an 8 Cup Cuisinart processor that is a great size for me! Also, because I’m working with kiwis that need their skin removed, and strawberries that need to be hulled, a Y-peeler and a ridiculous looking strawberry huller is also super helpful!
Temperatures, Times, and Acids
In general, dried fruit needs to be popped into a space that’s 130 degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of air ventilation. Depending on the water content of your fruit, the dehydrating time varies from 10-20 hours. Also with some fruit to prevent your food from browning (think guacamole without the lime) you need to add a little bit of acid- usually lemon juice. I most definitely do not have all of the temperatures, times, or acid requirements memorized- so when I need some information I always go to my book, The Dehydrator Bible. Ever since a review copy was sent to me ages ago, it never is more than a foot away from my dehydrator!
It is incredibly hard to go wrong with creating recipes for a dehydrator- essentially if you like the flavor profile of something in its original state, amp up the flavor -because the sugars etcetera become more concentrated when the water content is removed- and you’re sure to love the outcome! Also, one of the great things about creating your own recipes is that you can’t really over-dehydrate! Once the water is removed, it’s gone!
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Kiwi Fruit: Skin your kiwi, cut into uniform slices, dip into an acid bath of 1/4 cup lemon juice with four cups water, and dehydrate for 12 hours at 130 degrees on the mesh dehydrating screens. Kiwis will be dried through and pliable.
Strawberries: Hull your strawberries (I use this) and then cut into uniform slices- no acid bath required! Pop onto a mesh tray at 130 degrees and dehydrate 12 hours until strawberries are completely dried through.
Apricot Leather: Add apricots (I used about 3 cups) and the juice of half of a lemon to a food processor. Pulse until smooth, and then pour onto a non-stick dehydrator sheet. Spread into an even layer and pop into the dehydrator at 130 degrees for about 8 hours or until the sheet is dried through and peels easily! You can use kitchen shears to cut this into strips.
Raspberry Mint Leather: Take two cups of raspberries and a handful of de-stemmed mint leaves. Blend until smooth and then pour onto a non-stick dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate at 130 degrees for about 8 hours or until leather peels of the sheet easily!
Dehydrated foods lasts pretty much indefinitely if they are stored correctly. That being said, always check to make sure that your food doesn’t smell off or have mold before eating! Because the water has been completely removed, if you store in an airtight container that doesn’t allow moisture to seep in, you’re golden! I use mason jars- pretty and functional!
I’d love to know- do you use a dehydrator or have any questions about dehydrating food? Leave them in the comments below!
Want to see me actually making these recipes? Check out my YouTube video below (and don’t forget to subscribe!)
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