Now, I know when you hear food dehydrator; you have visions of Ron Popeil-infomercial king–singing praises to his super-handy-fast-and tasty make-anything-in-a-minute piece of magic machinery… but this one really is worth having an oversized, horrible-to-store, single- use piece of kitchen machinery in your kitchen tool kit.
Grapes-Before & Raisins After
Recipe: (It's really this simple)
24-48 hours in the dehydrator
My mother gifted me with mine a few Christmases ago and what a wonderful gift it was! However, this is one of those appliances–while its recipients have great intentions–goes straight to the Goodwill after about year 2 in the cupboard taking up as much space as a Volkswagen would. Not mine! But for others who fear a $50 commitment to a large appliance, visit your local GW to find one for $10, they always have a few up on a top shelf.
That said, let me talk a minute about why it is so great:
- It makes 100% natural, healthy dried fruit snacks. Did you know most ‘dried’ fruit snacks are actually boiled in sugar syrup and then dried? They are soft and squishy and sweet. Well, that is why. Making it yourself, you add no sugar; however, the natural drying process of dehydrating off the water concentrates the sugars making dried fruits super sweet. And, they get chewy, like chewing a good piece of chewy candy, like a Starburst.
- It reduces waste of over ripe fruit and veggies. When your apples get too soft and mealy to enjoy, or bananas are a little brown, or extra grapes (into raisins!) it all goes into the food dehydrator. I also dry things like turnips and squash. It keeps in the cupboard and then when I want it, it goes into chili or soup, or is used to make a gratin (think potatoes au gratin in a box…but from your kitchen!) The flavors are so intense and really come through.
- It makes inexpensive dog treats. Yes….the dogs. In our home are treated ,ah-hem…well, spoiled some would say. The chicken jerky at $11 a bag at the warehouse stores is not something I prefer to afford on a regular basis. Leftover cooked chicken, beef, or pork scraps go right in and get dried into meat snacks for the pooches.
Extra tomatoes from the garden Before & After (sundried tomatoes)
Just wait till you taste your first batch of dried strawberries and you will be a convert–I promise.