Category Archives: Dehydrating

Jerking Around

Once upon a time I stumbled across a little something called eggplant bacon.  Immediately I was all like “WHOA, WHAT?!?!”  Did I just discover the blissful marriage between one of my all-time favorite vegetables and the most delicious edible ever?  Because lets be honest folks, bacon is magic.  Pure magic.  Period.  During my vegetarian years, the one thing I missed the most was bacon.  Imitated, yes.  Duplicated, never.

Several years ago I tried out various forms of this said “facon bacon” delight, and you know what?  It tastes NOTHING LIKE BACON.  After revamping and melding a few recipes, I came up with a damn good substitute for jerky and that made me a very happy girl!  I’m not a big fan of jerky, it gets stuck in my teeth, makes my stomach uneasy, and leaves a weird aftertaste in my mouth.  It is a big fat trifecta of no-thank-you-ness!  But still, there is just something about jerky that makes me think I want to eat it… and then I’m immediately reminded as to why I don’t!  Eggplant jerky satisfies my cravings without all the regret!

eggplant jerky Eggplant Jerky

2-3 medium-sized eggplant, I like to use globe-shaped varieties.

1/4 cup neutral oil, such as sunflower, grapeseed, or safflower.

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup white rice vinegar

3 tbsp Worcestershire

1 tbsp water

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp liquid smoke

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate, set aside.  Wash and dry eggplant, cut off stem and blossom ends, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces.  Slice in half again and marinate in spice mixture for 15 minutes, toss occasionally so that all pieces are well coated.  Place on dehydrator trays in a single layer and turn up the heat to the veggie setting.  Remove from trays once the eggplant is dry but pliable.  Usually I let mine run overnight.  Place in an airtight container for long-term storage.

eggplant jerky jar

 

PDFBadge

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dehydrating

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Well, technically they are dehydrator-dried tomatoes, but I won’t tell if you won’t! ;)

Dehydrated Tomatoes

Slice tomatoes into 1/2 - 3/4″ rounds and place in a single-layer on dehydrator trays.  I always give my trays a quick spray with olive oil to keep the dried tomatoes from sticking.  Set the temperature to 135°F, or the recommended setting for your dehydrator, and dry for 6-8 hours, or until they become leathery.  Store in an airtight container.

Dried Tomatoes in Oil

Dried tomatoes in oil are one of my favorite ways to add a little something extra to a recipe.  Whether I’m adding them to a curry dish, topping off a quinoa black bean burger, baking them in bread, or pairing them with basil pesto and a crusty baguette, those little tomato rounds really seem to add the flavor punch I’m looking for!

Place dried tomatoes in an airtight jar and cover with olive oil.  Tomatoes in oil MUST BE REFRIGERATED.  Canning tomatoes in oil is not recommended since botulism spores can (and will) thrive in an anaerobic low-acid environment, oil provides just that!

Sometimes I like to kick things up a notch by adding fresh herbs (basil and rosemary make a nice addition), dried pepper flakes, and sliced garlic.  When using fresh herbs and garlic, the jar should be consumed within 2-3 weeks, since those components can become rancid.  Should your oil solidify, remove from fridge and allow jar to come to room-temperature.  If the oil is clear the tomatoes are still okay to eat.

1 Comment

Filed under Dehydrating

Dehydrating Cherries

Several weeks ago I picked sour cherries for the first time.  Since I had yet to preserve this fruit, I decided to try out various methods not knowing which would end up as my favorite.  With the exception of cherry pie filling (because I LOVE pie), dried cherries have definitely won that title!

Sour cherries on their own are packed full of flavor; once you dehydrate them, it takes the intensity level to a whole other playing field!

Dehydrated Sour Cherries

Wash cherries, remove pits and stems.  Arrange in a single layer on dehydrator trays and place on recommended fruit/veggie setting.  I have an American Harvest and the temp for fruit is 135°F.  Cherries,  like strawberries, are mainly water, so it will take quite some time for them to finish.  I checked mine every 2-3 hours and removed the raisin-like cherries as they were ready.  I believe the total drying time was around 12-14 hours.  Store cherries in an airtight container.

3 Comments

Filed under Dehydrating

Herbs: German Chamomile

This year, I vowed to make better use of my food dehydrator; so far I am off to a great start!  Last year, I didn’t begin using it till mid July, but successfully dried blueberries, banana chips, and Swiss chard.  I failed at tomato skins.  Technically, I didn’t fail, but the results were not what I had expected.  Instead of a crispy chip-like wafer, I ended up with leathery plastic pieces… and into the compost they went!

This year, I’ve dehydrated several batches of both strawberries and cherries; blueberries will be the next fruit to come into season.  I also have plans for tomatoes, melons, peaches, kale, carrots and anything else I can think of!  I’ve also decided to better utilize my vast supply of organic herbs growing around the property.

Last year I planted Matricaria chamomilla, also know as German or Hungarian chamomile.  It is closely related to Roman or English chamomile; however, they are two separate plants.  German chamomile is an aromatic annual that grows about 2-3 feet in height and bears small daisy-like blossoms.  Roman chamomile is an aromatic creeping perennial that also produces small daisy-like flowers, but grows close to the ground.  For centuries, the English have been using it to create scented lawns (like the one found at Buckingham Palace), since it’s resilient to being walked on.

Another way to tell the difference between German and Roman chamomile is by the receptacle.  Roman chamomile is flat and solid on the inside, whereas German chamomile is dome-like and hollow.

Many herbalists use the two chamomiles interchangeably since they have similar properties.  German chamomile, however, is considered medically superior and more potent since it contains more of the anti-inflammatory agent chamazulene. Chamazulene is a highly effective and proven herbal remedy for arthritis, rheumatism, and gastritis.  German chamomile is also anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, mild bitter, nervine, and a sedative.

Since I allowed my German chamomile to self seed, it came back (with a vengeance) this Spring.  I have more chamomile than I know what to do with… and that is a very good thing!  I plan on transplanting some of the volunteers to other areas of the property this weekend.  I really enjoy winding down with a relaxing pot of chamomile and catnip tea, so, the bigger my harvest the more tea I can brew!

 Polonius assisting me with the harvest!

Drying German Chamomile

It is recommended that you harvest the chamomile flowers early in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the blossoms have opened.  When I started, the blossoms were closed, but they had opened by the time I was done!

You can pinch off the flower from the stem, which will encourage rapid new growth, allowing for a continual harvest.  Or you can cut the stems, which takes much more time for the plant to rejuvenate.  If you cut the stems, tie them together with twine and hang upside down in a warm, dry, and dark place.  If you are only cutting off the flowers, which is what I did, you will need a drying screen or a dehydrator to dry them.  I used the herb/craft setting on my dehydrator and left it run for about 8 hours.

Before placing the blossoms in my dehydrator, I first soaked them in a small bowl of cold salt water for 10 minutes to kill any bugs that may have tagged along for the ride.  I think I used 2 tbsp salt.  Then I drained the flowers, rinsed them and allowed them to soak another 5 minutes in fresh cold water.

Store the dried flowers whole, in an air-tight jar, out of direct sunlight.  When making tea I keep my flowers whole, but some people like to crush them.  Always crush herbs right before using them.  Storing crushed herbs is a sure-fire way to decrease their effectiveness and flavor!

5 Comments

Filed under Dehydrating, Herbs

BEHOLD! The awesomeness of dehydrated strawberries.

I introduced Cecelia to dehydrated strawberries last week; as soon as that glorious flavor hit her taste buds her eyes enlarged, she raised her brow and that little hand went back into the jar for more!  “Pretty awesome, huh Cece?”  She smiled and nodded back in silence.  Those little chewy bites of fruit have the ability to magically transport you to a whole other plane of existence.  Yeah, they really are that good!

Strawberries can be dehydrated in various ways: I use my food dehydrator but they can also be placed in a very low-heat oven for several hours.  It may be faster to use an oven, however, I’m sure that method uses more energy.

Dehydrated Strawberries

strawberries, washed hulled and halved (if your berries are very large you may need to quarter them)

1/2 c honey

1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 c boiling water

Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add sugar; stir until dissolved.  Allow simple syrup to cool a bit (5 minutes) then add honey; stir to incorporate.  Dip sliced berries into fruit pretreatment solution (see bottom of page for various methods) then place on a tray in a single layer.  Be sure your berries are not touching one another.

Place your dehydrator on the recommended fruit/veggie setting, mine is 135°F (I usually set it for just above that temperature).  Since strawberries are mainly composed of water it takes a while for them to finish, usually 8-12 hours.  Once the berries become flat and almost leathery they are done.

Remove from trays and store in an air-tight container.  Try to not eat them all that first day!

Fruit pretreatment is not required but it helps to maintain dried fruits top quality.  Some fruits like apples, peaches and apricots will rapidly oxidize and turn brown once they are exposed to the air.  There are various methods for pre-treating fruit: mix 1 tsp absorbic acid (or 3000 mg vit. C tablets, crushed) with 2 cups water  and soak fruit for 3-5 minutes, make a dip by mixing 1 cup honey, 1 cup water and the juice of one lemon, or make a simple syrup with sugar and honey as I did.

6 Comments

Filed under Dehydrating

Dehyrating Greens – Rainbow Chard

My dehydrator has been on overdrive due to a surge in my end of season preservation. This year instead of freezing my greens I decided to dehydrate them. Not only will this save on space but also requires less energy since they do not have to be kept frozen.
I’m so smitten with Rainbow Chard. I think it is absolutely stunning and I have major plans of making this chenopod a feature in next year’s edible landscaping! 
Earlier in the week I started harvesting my Rainbow Chard. I first de-stemmed it, then cut the greens into strips. I submerged it in a sink of cold water and swished it around a good bit to remove any extra dirt hidden in the curly leaves, then placed it into gallon ziplocks. I ended up with 2 very full bags.
Whether you are freezing or dehydrating greens you first need to blanch them (with either boiling water or steam) until wilted. This stops the enzymes from breaking down the nutrients as well as retards the loss of color, taste and texture. I chose steam to retain the maximum amount of vitamins. Using tongs I carefully rotated the chard to insure even wilting. 
Once the greens were wilted I placed them on my dehydrator trays keeping them no more than a quarter-inch thick.
I set the heat dial to the recommended setting and left for a photo shoot with my brother’s band. (I’ll be sure to share that on my photography blog…eventually!) When I returned four hours later this is what I found.
Perfectly crisp and crunchy chard!
Over a large bowl I crumbled the greens by hand, then scooped them into my grinder to powder them. I could have used a mortar and pestle as well but this was way faster and I had over 500 picture to start going through!
Four trays of greens yields a measly inch or so in powdered form. Guess it’s a good thing it is so potent! I plan to add the powdered chard to soups, stews and curries. I’m sure it will also be good sprinkled on baked potatoes as well as an excellent vitamin boost when added to smoothies!

4 Comments

Filed under Dehydrating

Wordless Wednesday – Dehydrating Fail

Images and content copyright © 2009-2010 Danielle R Limoge.

4 Comments

Filed under Dehydrating, Wordless Wednesday