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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BENEFITS OF DEHYDRATING FOOD

Well here we are already into April and spring is into full swing. Temperatures in Northern Ohio have been above average, almost psyching us out thinking it is summer. We have already had 4 days above 80 degrees. Wondering if this year is gonna be a hot one considering the average temperature for this time of year is 55 degrees. Hopefully you have your seeds started and they are growing beautifully. This year will be my first year growing with heirloom seeds and growing some root vegetables. Potatoes will be my biggest learning experience and hopefully they work out. I will keep you posted.

In my opinion, the best part of gardening is watching your plants turn into delicious food. There is nothing like the smell and taste of a fresh onion and green pepper and we cannot forget the taste of home grown tomatoes. I personally like cherry tomatoes right off the plant. There is a sweetness in them that no store can produce.

What will you do with all that produce your harvesting? Since I became a gardener, I have froze and canned many of my vegetables, but this year will venture into dehydrating. I became confident with this, when I dehydrated bananas, and they actually turned out decent. Dehydrating food as a storage option has many benefits. Some of the benefits of dehydrating include:

* longer shelf life of up to 20 years if properly stored.

* dehydrating will save valuable shelf space.

* dehydrating is safer and less time consuming than home canning.

* if freezing your garden bounty, no need to worry if power is out for any length of time.

Home dehydrators can be purchased almost anywhere small appliances are sold. My husband purchased mine at Walmart. It is one of the cheaper models, but nonetheless works great. If dehydrating is something you will just dabble with, do not go out and buy an expensive model. Dehydrators cans run into the hundreds of dollars. I am not sure of the price we have here at home, but believe it was around 40-50 dollars and is good enough for beginners. Here is a recipe for making banana chips to get you started.

Dehydrating Bananas

bananas
lemon juice
cinnamon

Thinly slice bananas and place into small bowl of lemon juice to prevent browning. (lemon juice will not effect taste) Remove from lemon juice and place bananas on dehydrator racks without touching one another so air can circulate through the machine and sprinkle with cinnamon. Turn on your dehydrator and let the machine do the work. (some machines have temperature gauges and basic recipes, so read your manual) My dehydrator does not have a temperature gauge so I just turn it on and let it go for about 24 hours. The bananas are done when you pull one off your tray and it is pliable. Store in air tight container or vacuum seal for longer storage.

If you do not want to or cannot obtain a dehydrator you can follow the directions above and place bananas on a cookie sheet and place in your oven on 250 degrees for 12-18 hours.

NOTE: Bananas will not be crunchy as when you buy them at the store. Store bought banana chips are deep fried before they go through the dehydrating process which is why they are not healthy. The next time you are at the store, look at the fat content on the packages.

Since bananas are not grown in this region, look for sales and check Aldis. I feel a good price for bananas is around 39 cents a pound. Sometimes you can get lucky and find them cheaper.

Enjoy and God Bless,
Shelly

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

A great site that I've learned a lot about dehydrating/storage is this youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Dehydrate2store She has some great ideas and methods of dehydrating food.

I do need a better dehydrator, the el cheapo ones just take too much time as compared to the more expensive ones that dry food in a few hours instead of a day or two.

Shelly said...

Thanks for youtube link. I'm a newbie to dehydrating, but slowly gaining some confidence. As I progress in my dehydrating efforts, I'm sure I'll feel the same as you and want to replace the dehydrator with something more efficient and quicker. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your wisdom.

Andrea said...

I did an interview with Hobby Farm Home magazine in July of 2009 all about dehydrating food. I love drying food! I agree with anon. about the cheapy dehydrators... they're okay to start out, but a good quality dehydrator is well worth the investment.

Shelly said...

Andrea-love that magazine! The hubby got me the dehydrator for Christmas so I'll wait to upgrade later. Don't wanna hurt his feelings. lol

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Shelly, bananas are so easy to rehydrate for bread or muffins. They're a great item to have on hand! (There's a store near us that regularly sells bananas for 29 cents/lb! I buy my 'dehydrating' bananas there.) I don't know if I have a cheap dehydrator or not. I got it from a friend who's hubby found it at the thrift store. After years and years of use it still works, so I'm not complaining!!! :)

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