Did I tell you we got a dehydrator?
A couple of weeks ago. It was this year’s anniversary gift to ourselves.
It’s the Nesco American Harvest Garden Master FD-1018P 1000 Watt Food Dehydrator. We got the kit, which included a total of 8 trays plus 8 fruit leather inserts (solid flexible plastic pieces) and 8 smaller mesh screens for drying things that might fall through the regular trays like small herbs, soft fruit, and a book about drying stuff and making jerky.
At first Bill’s main interest in the dehydrator was because we could make a whole mess of jerky with it. My big plan was to make fruit leathers and dehydrated fruits and potato chips – healthier snacks for my kids and husband to bring to school with them in the upcoming school years.
My sister got a dehydrator a little over a year ago and loves it. She’s been telling me I need to get one, and I’ve been telling her she needs to get a pressure canner. Guess I’ve got the better listening ears in the family…
Anyway, Meredith (my sister) also makes her own chili powders with the bazillion hot peppers from her garden, and she uses it to dehydrate tomatoes, too. That, plus she makes fruit leathers and dehydrates fruits, and herbs, and who knows what else.
Anyway, we ordered it a little before our anniversary and it arrived the day before – yay!
The first things I made were strawberry fruit leather and watermelon candy.
I’d seen the watermelon idea on Pinterest, I think. Someone (I know, I didn’t save the link, I’m horrid) just sliced up some watermelon in thin – quarter inch thick – pieces and dehydrated them. That’s it. And she said they were like candy.
Sounded good to me.
For the leather, I just pureed a gallon of the strawberries in our freezer from this year’s bumper crop and poured them, as directed, on the fruit leather plastic sheets.
Kind of like this:
But those two aren’t pure strawberry.
The kids weren’t nuts about the first batch of fruit leather. The flavor was too intense and kind of tart. I’ve since seen other recipes for strawberry leather that include sugar. Bill likes it, though, and so do I.
Anyway, the very first picture in this post is some of the original strawberry leather I made.
And I have to stop here and tell you one of the unexpected side benefits of dehydrating fruit – the aroma! Our house smelled like strawberries! Real strawberries! So get a dehydrator – ditch your icky fake air fresheners!
But I digress…
These two most recent pictures are from today’s variation – I added watermelon and a little – very little – sugar. Julia taste-tested the liquid before I poured it out. She just wanted to drink it, never mind make anything else with it, so I figured I was on the right track.
It’s still in the dehydrator, so I don’t know if it’s a success or not. I’ll let you know.
Besides that, I’ve done some fruit.
Watermelon – my second favorite so far. This was yesterday when I stacked it up:
And here’s the finished product:
Kind of looks like a raw beef jerky, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s watermelon. Very watermelon. Chewy, with a very intense watermelon flavor. Because – hey! It’s real watermelon!
I’ve dehydrated mango, which Bill likes best so far.
Yesterday I also did some kiwi (my personal favorite) –
Kiwi is pretty.
And, the newest fruit in my new repertoire, pineapple:
Dried, the pineapple kind of looks like mushrooms. Chicken of the woods, maybe.
Like all the fruits I’ve dehydrated so far, the finished product keeps the flavor and really only changes in texture.
It tastes real, you know?
A couple months ago, maybe, I saw dried kiwi in the store and was so excited about it. Until I bought some.
First of all, they didn’t taste like kiwi or anything else real. I’m sure I read the label, but I don’t remember what else was added to the poor little kiwi slices. I think I blocked it out because, frankly, I’m annoyed with myself for not reading the ingredients before I bought the stuff. The too-green color should have clued me in, but I don’t know, maybe I was really, really tired at the time.
Anyway, I have seen the light, and I’ll do my own dehydrating from now on.
It’s so cool!
You should listen to my sister – get a dehydrator!
Oh – but wait! There’s more!
I don’t have pictures, yet, but I am planning to make a new batch soon.
I’ve made potato chips.
Not sliced potato chips, mind you, but more along the lines of baked chips or some sort of faux-chip you might find in a can on your grocery store shelf…things with all sorts of artificial and highly addictively-flavored ingredients. Julia loves that stuff and would eat it all the time if I let her.
Anyway, I’d seen several versions online, so I figured I’d give homemade un-chip chips a try. I baked a bunch of russet potatoes, scooped the cooked innards out, and pureed them with some butter, water, and salt. I poured the mixture out just like I did when making the fruit leather, and let the dehydrator run overnight.
My potato slurry was too thin, resulting in see-through sections of chips, so I’ll fix that next time around, but they tasted good! They tasted like potato!
Best of all, Julia probably ate most of them. She is also on board with concocting different flavors for subsequent batches. She really likes salt and vinegar. Or buffalo. Or barbecue.
I’ll let you know what happens.