Dehydrating is a straightforward method for preserving food that can keep it fresh for years to come.
Dehydrating is a passion of mine, there are many delicious reasons to add a dehydrator to your must-have kitchen gadgets. From having a ready supply of dehydrated onions, garlic, and mushrooms in your pantry for effortless meal preparation to crafting homemade jerky and pet treats, the possibilities are endless. Imagine the convenience of having essentials like shredded or powdered potatoes for quick and hearty breakfasts and thickening soups. And let's not forget the joy of creating wholesome snacks that you and your kids might even fight over, such as fruit leathers or dehydrated fruits perfect for on-the-go snacks or as lunchbox favorites. Best of all, all these culinary delights can be easily achieved with a compact countertop machine.
Dehydrators: Where to Find Them
Garage Sales - My first dehydrator was purchased for $7 at a garage sale years ago. It worked pretty well and I loved experimenting with foods when my kids were young, they were my guinea pigs.
Thrift Stores - My dear sister, Tina, has found numerous dehydrators at thrift stores, so don't hesitate to explore your local shops – luck might just be on your side.
Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace - Getting quality machines for a fraction of the cost is a win! I have purchased 2 dehydrator machines from Facebook Marketplace. My first was a 4 tray Excalibur Dehydrator that I purchased for $60, a great deal, and I only had to replace the heat element several years later. However, my best find was also on Facebook Marketplace where a $300 nine-tray Excalibur Dehydrator for a mere $80, almost brand new. I did have to travel for roughly 1 1/2 hours, but this was a golden ticket for dehydrators.
Amazon or Other Online Sellers - I've got a Cosori, bought from Amazon at a price of $150. This nifty machine boasts metal trays that I've paired with silica mats for added convenience, as well as being fully programmable.
Retail Stores - You'll also spot dehydrators at retailers like Walmart, Ace Hardware, or other farm supply stores for approximately $50. So, embarking on the journey to preserve and savor the fruits or vegetables you've prepared for your family is well within budget. These are typically the round-style dehydrators that require the occasional tray rotation from top to bottom to ensure a thorough and even drying process, and they perform admirably!
So yes, I have 3 dehydrators. I do not plan on getting a fourth. These are definitely handy when my tomatoes are in full bloom!
Dehydrating In Your Oven - Did you know you can also dehydrate in your oven on the lowest setting! I stumbled upon this method when my $7 round dehydrator called it quits right before a prepping event I had planned. I urgently needed samples, so I preheated my oven to 200°F, slid my trays inside, and left the oven door open slightly. To ensure an even drying process, I made sure to rotate my trays every hour or so. It worked like a charm!
Delicious and Easily Storable Foods for Your Dehydrator
I love halving cherry tomatoes and frequently flavor them with Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt. It's a simple yet delightful preparation.Another enticing option is to season them with Creole seasonings or Tajin (a blend of chili, lemon, and salt), or enjoy them plain – they make for a fantastic crouton substitute on salads. Additionally, you can pulse the tomatoes to create tomato powder, which, when reconstituted, serves as a handy tomato sauce alternative.
Among my favorite items for dehydration, potatoes take a top spot. When working with fresh potatoes, blanching is essential. I've had great success crafting my own thinly sliced scalloped potatoes and even whipping up potato soup, all sealed in Mylar Bags for convenience. They turned out effortlessly and closely resembled the store-bought versions. To blanch fresh potatoes, simply boil them until the center becomes clear, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Once done, arrange them on the trays and dehydrate at 125°F degrees for 8 to 12 hours, with the exact timing depending on the thickness.
Alternatively, frozen potatoes are a dehydrating game-changer. I adore using frozen grated hash browns or southern-style hash browns to create my dehydrated potato stock. These require minimal effort and, since they shrink to about ⅓ of their original size during dehydration, they are a space-saving option. Moreover, they re-hydrate with boiling water without a hitch.
Onions and Garlic
Dehydrating onions and garlic is a breeze. When dealing with onions, I usually start by cutting or dicing them, then freeze the pieces. Freezing helps enhance the natural sugars, lending the onions a pleasing caramelized hue. An alternative approach is to caramelize the onions by cooking them before dehydrating. Using parchment paper underneath both garlic and onions is a wise move. However, a word of advice – it's best to dehydrate onions and garlic outdoors due to their potent aroma, which, while delightful, can permeate your entire home.
As for garlic, there are a couple of methods to consider. You can either crush it or slice it thinly. Personally, I'm partial to using pre-crushed garlic from a jar. Simply drain the juice and spread it on parchment paper for the dehydration process.
You can also powder them and make your own onion or garlic powders, as shown in the photo above.
These dehydrated ingredients prove useful for whipping up quick and delectable meals, such as my beloved Spanish Rice. Click HERE for the recipe.
Why buy instant rice, when you can make your own. You can do this with white rice or flavored rice of your choice. Here’s a Youtube Short showing dehydrated Spanish Rice.
Don’t forget to check out this other blog we have regarding how to store rice: Rice - A Grain Above The Rest
Beans are one of the other top items people love to store for an emergency. They however take a long time to cook, which means they take a lot of fuel to cook them as well. Having instant beans in an emergency is great, you simply just re-hydrate. Having instant variety that can be reconstituted and heated can make quick and easy meals.
Dehydrating veggies are wonderful. Why bother storing those frozen, pre-packaged veggies that inevitably suffer from freezer burn within weeks? Dehydrate them, and you'll have the flexibility to re-hydrate them when needed, making meal preparation a breeze. Just take a look at the striking difference in the photo above: on the left, you have 3 cups of mixed veggies from the frozen variety, while on the right, you see a little over 1 cup of fully dehydrated mixed veggies. The space-saving factor is remarkable, and these dehydrated gems are perfect for enhancing soups and stir-fries. They are my go-to when I need a quick, hearty weeknight dinner, whether it's chicken soup with veggies or a delicious chicken pot pie.
There are lots of powders you can make from dehydrated items. I love making super green powder by taking green leafy vegetables, dehydrating them, and then powdering them. You now have a nutrient rich powder you can add to the soups and smoothies. Sneak in the greens to spaghetti or other items. Heck you can add it to brownies, what a mom win!
Other Fun Items to Dehydrate
Dehydrating healthy snacks for you and your family is fun and easy. Apple slices, cucumber chips, pineapple, pears, tomatoes, oh my! There are countless ways to dehydrate snacks and to make amazing fruit leathers
- Fruit Leathers - Storing Fruit Roll Ups in PackFreshUSA Freezer Pops bags
- Mushrooms - Dehydrating Mushrooms
- Bananas - Bananas Freeze Dried & Dehydrated
- Dog Treats - Dehydrated Chicken Jerky Treats
- Squashes - Dehydrated Squash
- Strawberries - Dehydrated Strawberries
- Marshmallows - Dehydrating Marshmallow Heaven
Fun to add to your hot chocolate or just a tasty treat. Why let the opened bag of marshmallows go stale, throw them on the dehydrator and simply enjoy. You will thank me later. Here is a link for a fun gift idea with hot chocolate and marshmallows in a cup, great Fall or Christmas gifts: Fall Hot Coco Gift Bags
How To Store Your Dehydrated Food
To store your dehydrated foods simply store them in Mylar bags or mason jars along with an Oxygen Absorber. Using an oxygen absorber packet to remove oxygen stops the stale factors and you can store most dehydrated foods for 3-5 years or more.
We here at PackFreshUSA have a variety of products which are great to store your dehydrated goods for long term storage.A great option are our Mylar Gusset Bags which stand on their own. We also have them available bundled with Oxygen Absorbers bundled.
For the mason jars we have a dedicated Oxygen Absorber Mason Jar Combo, which includes a variety of different Oxygen Absorber capacity, great if you have mason jars in multiple sizes.
For your snacks that will be eaten you can also use the Stand Up Pouches, while these are not Mylar, they will work great to package and use for your on the go dehydrated snacks. A great choice if you decide to give dehydrated snacks as gifts.
In our journey through the world of dehydrating, we've uncovered the secrets of preserving food's essence in a remarkably effective way, ensuring lasting freshness. Dehydrating goes beyond a hobby; it's a culinary adventure with countless reasons to add a dehydrator to your kitchen!
From the convenience of dehydrated staples like onions, garlic, and mushrooms to crafting homemade jerky and wholesome snacks like fruit leathers, all achievable with a compact countertop machine, the creative possibilities are endless.
As a three-time dehydrator owner, I can attest to their versatility, from preserving tomatoes to creating nutrient-rich powders. Dehydrating in your oven offers even more possibilities.
The world of dehydrated foods, from tomatoes to onions and garlic, holds a universe of flavors and convenience. Don't forget the fun items to dehydrate, from fruit leathers to marshmallows, creating unique and delicious treats for your family. And for long-term preservation count on products offered by PackFreshUSA to ensure your food tastes as fresh as when you stored them.
Embark on your dehydrating adventure and discover the delightful world of food preservation and culinary creativity that awaits you. Your kitchen will never be the same!
Happy prepping and much love,
Ola Dee Griffin
Long-Term Food Storage Expert
Customer Service Dept.
Safeguard Brands, Inc., DBA PackFreshUSA.com
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