My sweetie gave me a food dryer last fall. It’s been in the cupboard since then, but now that I’m deep into harvesting and food processing, I thought I’d haul it out to give us more options.
From my few raspberry canes, I’ve already harvested 38 pounds of raspberries.
I think they’re about 90% harvested now. Also harvesting now: green beans, carrots, everbearing strawberries, beets (oh, my! What amazing beets this year), cucumbers, blackberries, herbs, dye plants, medicinals……
We’ve eaten fresh, made jams and jellies, frozen, given to friends and neighbours, and even traded 10 pounds of our raspberries for 10 pounds of blueberries. It can keep me busy from dawn to dusk, if I let it.
Jellies: Lavender, Lemon-lime rosemary, Blackberry jalapeno
Jams: Raspberry, Strawberry, Bumbleberry
Now, I’m trying drying. Last fall, I dried oyster mushrooms strung on a string by the fire, and that worked well.
Years ago we made a lot of dried apples and fruit leather using a homemade box with screen racks, heated by a light bulb.
My Nesco Food Dehydrator has four racks, a heater and a blower fan. It dries the wettest tomatoes and berries in about 12 hours. It holds a good volume of food – the rack in the photo holds 3 medium tomatoes and 2 bananas, sliced 3/8″ thick. About 1/2 pound of strawberries or raspberries, or 3 large beets, diced, fit onto one rack. According to the instruction booklet, it helps to blanch most veggies before drying. Blanching softens the cell structure, allowing the moisture to escape more easily and also allows vegetables to rehydrate faster.
The dried food is neat – makes a crunchy snack, or we can re-hydrate with hot water. I love the feeling of having food put by for winter or for a hiking/camping trip.
But, I do watch my consumption of electricity (I can monitor it online) and the days that I have the dehydrator on show it’s costing us about 40 cents more. I suppose I should compare it with the cost of natural gas to cook jams and hot-water process them, or the cost to run the freezer for frozen foods.
I have tried putting the fruits out in the sun on a breezy day, but it seems as though they actually absorb water, so I think it’s still quite humid outside. Plus, there are wasps and fruit flies out there that like to feed on fruits.
So, for now, drying with a dehydrator adds to my arsenal of homesteading skills.
Sharing with: Lamberts Lately, The Dedicated House, Cozy Little House, Coastal Charm, An Oregon Cottage, The Charm of Home