I have had a dehydrator for years, using it mainly for my very special semi dried tomatoes. This time I decided to give it a good go. We are about to travel through outback Queensland, across the Gulf and up to the Cape. We have had quite a few Outback trips but this time is different – we a re both on a healthy eating plan and that sort of rules out too many egg and bacon burgers from all those fantastic country pubs – I am, however, reserving the right to eat a couple of Barra Burgers when we get into Barramundi Territory in the Cape York peninsula.
I have prepared a huge quantity of dried vegetables and fruit so we can at least keep up our plan to eat plenty of vegetables and very few carbs. I am totally surprised at how little space the dehydrated food takes up and how good a lot of it tastes in its dehydrated form. The sweet potato, apple and cinnamon mix and the seasoned pre-cooked dried onions are as good as snack food. I am going to explore this option when I return.
Lemon Water: I made a mix of approximately 50% water, 50% lemon juice and soaked the bananas and apples in it to stop them going brown, also gives a nice lemony flavour to the fruit.
Vacuum Sealing: I vacuum sealed most items into 3 packs. My theory is that I can unpack a vac pack and move the contents to a zip lock bag for use. Each bag should last 2 to 3 weeks.
Things I dried:
- Bananas – cut about 1.2cm thick – soaked in lemon water – took a very long time to dry – dried to a leathery state – not crispy like the shop bought ones
- Apples – I washed the apples (Pink Lady) well, left the skin on and used an apple corer / slicer that took the core out and sliced the apples into 8 pieces. I then cut each segment in half, giving 16 segments per apple. Soaked each batch in lemon water for 5 minutes. Did 4 trays in the dehydrator and they eventually filled one sandwich sized zip lock bag. I vacuum packed most of them.
- Mushrooms – easy to dry, wipe over with a damp cloth and slice – 1 kilogram dehydrates to very little. Ensure they are dried so well that they snap. This may take a fair while. I leave the dehydrator off when they seem to be dry, wait a few hours or overnight, then turn it on again to finish off.
They can then be stored in air tight containers, zip lock bags or vac sealed.
- Sweet potato and apples – I put the 10 sweet potato through a course slicer in the food processor, and prepared the apples as for drying above then steamed the sweet potato and apples in the microwave then browned them in coconut oil with a bit of vegetable stock, cinnamon and maple syrup.
- Onions – 4 kg onions sliced about 5mm thick, fried until just browned with a small amount of oil and seasoning (adding extra water if it dries out too much too reduce the oil). These tasted great dried but took a fair while.
- Hummus – used my standard Hummus recipe but omitted the oil – dried on baking paper, turning and breaking it up as it dried. When quite dry I put it back into the food processor and blitzed again, returning the powder to the dryer to finish it off. I used double the quantity and vac sealed it into 3 bags. Rehydration should involve adding water and some olive oil.
- Corn and mixed vegetables – Frozen – I bought two 1kg bags of frozen vegetables – one corn kernels and the other Chinese vegetables. They were blanched in boiling water long enough to bring back to the boil then drained, let dry and dehydrated.
- Capsicum – about 10 capsicum reduced to one small bag – next time cut into thin slices – the chunks took far too long to dry.
- Zucchini – about 10 zucchini – washed and cut into 1 cm thick slices, dried well.
- Lentils – the first batch that I made from 3 tins of lentils tasted so good that I made a batch from dried lentils as well. This will give us a meat substitute if we get rained in or stuck somewhere. They were cooked simply with a tablespoon of pre-mixed curry powder and some vegetable stock powder. These tasted so good raw that we will be making them as healthy snack foods when we return.
- Lemons – This is described in the preserving lemons page – rehydrated can be added to foil cooked fish or simply added to a glass of water for a bit of flavour.
- Tinned pineapple – I tried this because I thought that a bit of different flavour might be good in a stir fry. Easy – open can of pineapple pieces and dry.