Tag 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

 

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Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wordless Wednesday – Dehydrating Fail

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

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