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January 4, 2010

Dehydrating 2009

My dehydrator has been working overtime this year. Before now, the most it had done was to dry jerky that my husband mixed up. We attempted to make banana chips after buying some at the market one year, but we were never successful at replicating the commercially-made ones, which I'm now told are *fried*.

Then I found dehydrate2store, a website with videos on drying food. I joined a wonderful yahoogroup called fooddrying and found out that I can dry tomato skins to make into powder (tomato buillion), chicken livers for dog treats, and leftovers. Often I used to buy produce such as celery or mushrooms but in spite of my efforts, the last of it would spoil in the drawer in the refrigerator; now I dry what I don't use up right away and have it on hand for future dishes. In my goal of getting food out of the freezer and on to my shelves instead, I've learned that I can dehydrate pumpkin puree and still use it to make pumpkin pies.

Since I've only been working on this for a few months, my stock of dried foods isn't extensive, but I will be adding to it this coming year. Dehydrated foods take up much less room in my small kitchen, and last longer if stored properly than other forms of preservation. They are wonderful to add to soups and stews, but most dried foods will rehydrate just fine for other uses too.

This is the list from my Kitchen Notebook of the things I've dehydrated this year...

red bell peppers
green bell peppers
mushrooms, sliced and powdered
ginger, sliced and powdered
lemon slices
jalapeno pepper rings
tomato skins, powdered
hot yellow pepper rings
roasted tomatoes
grape tomato halves
onions, red and yellow
poblano peppers
sweet banana pepper rings
broccoli (bought frozen)

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