Owning a food dehydrator is not just about drying apple slices, though it does do that exceptionally well! To own a dehydrator, you don’t have to be someone who lives on a farm and who has a surplus crop of fruits and vegetables. There are so many more things you can do that you may not have dreamed of!
Did you know you can easily make your own fruit and vegetable powders for use as flavor boosters, stock powders and garnishes? Even top-notch restaurants have been onto this clever little trick and you’ll find “red onion dust” garnishing raclette-covered brioche, as well as goat’s fetta dusted with pistachio powder in clever establishments. Très chic indeed.
Make your own garlic salt, celery salt, onion powder and celery or carrot powder, simply by finely chopping the individual vegetable in a food processor and laying out on the trays in the dehydrator; then, when dried to a crisp, pulverize in a blender. Add salt or just store in airtight containers to be used however you like. Dried red peppers can be added to bread mixes, and other powders can lift any salad dressing, pasta sauce or fresh dip. Even dried spinach is a wonderful thing to have in your pantry and can be added to soups, casseroles and pasta sauces.
As for fruits, tamarind powder has a wonderful color when stirred through dishes, or try guava, green mango or figs.
Fruit makes a healthy snack for adults and kids and is particularly good for people who are diabetic. Dried fruits are arguable more tasty than their fresh counterparts because with much of the water content removed, the flavor is more concentrated.
- Apples don’t always have to be dried in rings. Try using a potato peeler to cut potato crisp-like slices, or cut into wedges.
- Bananas can be sliced or cut into sticks.
- Homemade muesli is easy and entirely healthy when you add dehydrated papaya, apple, banana, grapes, cherries or any other fruit that takes your fancy.
- Dried apricots make a delicious snack as they are but try chopping and soaking them in brandy and serving with cream and chocolate sauce.
- Mango slices are one of the most wonderful fruits to dry because when you munch on them for a snack, they are sweet, delectable and able to be enjoyed year round.
- Try canned fruits if what you want to dry is not in season. Pineapple, peaches and apricots are all excellent examples.
- Dried cherries (after removing stones) are a fantastic substitute for sultanas in recipes. They’re slightly tart and have a chewy texture.
- You’ve seen dried fruit medley in the stores and it usually consists of apple, banana and papaya. Can you imagine making your own medley with mango, pineapple, cherries, peaches, strawberries and blueberries? Totally decadent!
- Go for something really unusual and dry some persimmons. If you can’t find them in the shops, ask your friendly Italian neighbors who will either have a tree in their yard or know someone who does! Same goes with figs, which are divine when dehydrated.
- Fruit leathers (fruit roll-ups) are incredibly easy to make. It’s unfathomable that the shop-bought ones have to contain a lot of sugar when you can prepare homemade fruit roll-ups without any at all. It’s just a matter of pureeing fruits – made easier with the help of a multi-function juicer – spreading the puree on the solid sheet that comes with your dehydrator, and turning the unit on! You can add all kinds of flavorings to enhance or fill the fruit further, as shown below.
Flavourings: essences such as vanilla, orange or lemon, citrus zest and almond extract. Use about 1/8 of a teaspoon per 2 cups of puree.
Herbs/Spices: cinnamon, clove, mint nutmeg, coriander and ginger. Use around 1/8 of a teaspoon for every 2 cups of puree.
Crunchy additions: desiccated or shredded coconut, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chopped dates or prunes and crushed nuts.
Fillings: peanut butter, cream cheese, ricotta, melted chocolate, jam and Nutella. Simply spread with your choice of fillings, roll, cut into cylinders and refrigerate.
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables, especially when they are in abundant supply, is not only a great way of saving money, but also a way to express your creativity, pass some time in a relaxing way and feed your family with healthy foods, even at snack time.