It’s summer. There are beach days, lazy days, hot days spent hiding indoors, and days spent cooking. This has been a summer of preserving, not because of any extraordinary quantities of food, but because it’s something I only recently decided to give some time. This post: dehydrating.
I bought this Nesco Food Dehydrator after figuring out a few things:
- I didn’t need to spend a lot of money on a deluxe dehydrator, and yes, there are deluxe models and brands. This one was inexpensive, reviewed well in several places, and expandable by adding more round trays to the tower.
- Internet wisdom indicated that a top heater and fan is preferable to one on the bottom, particularly for foods that drip, and thus drip down to the heating unit.
- I could make beef jerky for the people in my family who love it, but I could also make tofu jerky for those of us who are vegetarians. Sold.
It is pretty basic, which is not a complaint. I added four more trays and extra inserts for making fruit leather and screens for herbs. There is indeed a heater in the lid unit, with the recommended range of temperature settings. It’s easy to clean, relatively quiet, but needs some shelf space to store.
Yes, there has been tofu jerky, to the delight of many. I’ve been experimenting with different marinades and when the recipe is ready, I’ll share. Contenders have been the barbecue marinade and the basic smoky soy flavor, but you know what? I suspect a bottle of quality teriyaki or mesquite marinade would be worth trying as well.
It’s very good. Going to get better, but already a success.
Previously I shaped this kind of jerky by rolling the ground beef mixture between two sheets of waxed paper and then cutting into sticks. These were made with a Nesco jerky “gun”. That was kind of fun to use.
I’ve dried pints of blueberries and quarts of cherries. A jar of dried blueberries sitting out on the kitchen counter gets noticed, and everyone is more likely to toss some into a salad or yogurt, or just snack on a few. I’m going to do more cherries while they’re abundant because I often bake a heart-healthy cookie recipe that uses dried cherries, which are expensive and sometimes hard to find.
I’ve played with fruit leathers using applesauce as a base. The cherry was delicious; peach, not so much.
On the list next: tomatoes, herbs, chickpeas. Green beans. I wonder if I can make those yummy dried green beans for snacking?