My food dehydrator has been working up a storm this past week as I’ve been transforming pounds and pounds of tomatoes and jars of applesauce into very, very dry versions of their former selves. I love dehydrating foods, and here are just a few of the reasons why.
- Dehydrated fruits and veggies have intense, INTENSE! flavors! Each thin slice of dehydrated tomato packs a wallop of flavor that you don’t find in a fresh slice. Something amazing happens to the flavor once all the water has been removed.
- It offers something different in the healthy snack category. My kids are loving the applesauce fruit leather they made themselves. They never get bored because one day it’s apple-cinnamon leather, another day it’s apple-peach leather, and a tasty apple-strawberry version is on tap for tomorrow! A #10 can of applesauce from Sam’s Club or Costco provides sheets and sheets of fruit leather, one of the easiest snacks in the world to pack in a lunch bag or backpack.
- Something is always in season! The best bargains in produce are usually found when a particular fruit or vegetable is in season. Farmer’s markets, food co-ops, fruit stands, and pick-your-own-produce farms can offer amazing bargains. All that fresh goodness is easily transformed into dehydrated versions at a cost far less than commercially dehydrated foods.
- Food dehydration is simple! Basic dehydrators can be picked up on Craigslist or eBay. You don’t need anything fancy. My dehydrator is very basic, but it does the job just fine. Unlike canning, you don’t need a lot of additional equipment, and the internet is filled with websites that give directions for dehydrating every type of food imaginable!
- Variety! One day you can dehydrate apples and the next, pasta sauce! Cook up several pounds of ground beef and turn them into, “hamburger rocks”! When you find #10 cans of a fruit or veggie on sale, pour out the liquid, and place the food on your dehydrator trays for a few hours. Bags of frozen vegetables dehydrate just as easily.
- Dehydrated foods don’t lose their nutritional value and maintain water soluble vitamins and minerals.
- Dehydrate your own herbs and you’ll never have to pay top dollar for them again nor watch them rot in the fridge.
- If space is an issue, dehydrated foods are your friend! Twenty pounds of fresh tomatoes filled two large glass jars in my pantry once they were sliced and dehydrated!
- You’ll never have to run to the grocery store at the last minute for carrots or onions or potatoes or celery or green beans if you have jars of the dehydrated versions in your pantry.
If you have a garden and expect a decent harvest this year, put food dehydration on the top of your To Learn list! Once you’re past the initial purchase of the dehydrator, it’s just a matter of looking for bargains at the grocery store and then getting busy!