Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dehydrating Fruits and Veggies

Fall is coming, and that puts me in the mood to use my wonderful Excalibur Food Dehydrator.  I absolutely love this method of food preservation! It appeals to me because it's not as hot to work around as a canner is, and the end product takes up less space to store equivalent amounts of food.

So far this fall, I've done about 8 pounds of apples, since hubby requested them to snack on at work.  8 pounds apples turned into about a gallon and a half of dried apple rings.

Today, I went outside to see what what in the garden to play around with today.

I came in with about 8 beets, some cucumbers (there's more out there of both, still) and some  more elderberries.

I've not been thrilled with freezing beets in the past (they are mushy), and tire of pickled beets all the time, so I've been toying with the idea of dehydrating beets.

Some online friends have been singing the virtues of vegetable chips, as in crispy dried REAL vegetables. Not those "Vegetable Chips" you see in the stores that are mostly corn with some veggie juice sprinkled in. And their kids apparently like them.

So, I decided to try drying my beets and some summer squash (not pictured).

How to Dehydrate Beets:

I removed the leaves of the beets in the garden (too far gone to eat for greens), scrubbed the beets well, and put them into my pressure cooker with 2 cups of water, and cooked on high (15 pounds) for about 15 minutes. I released the pressure and let them cool, then peeled the skins off and ran the beets through my food processor to slice them (about 1/8 to 1/4" thick). Here's a pic of how I put them on the trays:

I sprinkled them with regular ol' salt. My online friend recommended rubbing them with oil, but I have concerns as to whether the oil might go rancid if I keep them around for a few months. We'll see how we do without the oil this time. I still have lots more beets in the garden to experiment with.

I set my timer for about 12 hours and have the temperature set at 125*.

Since I still had room, I also sliced up some zucchini and yellow squash in the food processor, and an onion for good measure. I salted the squashes, but not the onion.

Now, all I do is wait and see how they turn out...and if the kids and hubby will eat them. 

I'm thinking about making some jarred soup mixes for easy meals this winter.  We'll see what I can put together.

Here's to Real Food!

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