How To Use A Fruit And Vegetable Dehydrator?

How To Use A Fruit And Vegetable Dehydrator?

Harvesting vegetables and fruits for the winter can be done in different ways. One of the simplest is drying food. If earlier this process was long, using the sun and wind, then with the advent of dehydrators, everything has become noticeably easier. By creating optimal conditions inside the chamber, they are just as good at drying fruits, herbs, and even meat. Let’s take a closer look at what a dehydrator is and how to use it.

How To Use A Fruit And Vegetable Dehydrator?

What is a dehydrating dryer?

The principle of operation of dehydrators is based on the gradual evaporation of moisture from products, which was previously obtained by drying vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, or meat in the warm season in the shade.

Despite the seeming simplicity of the task, the drying time and temperature play an important role in maintaining the quality of the products. Therefore, devices for dehydration went through at least three evolutionary steps, each of which improved the process.

The first to appear were simple drying ovens, in which a high temperature was turned on with the help of a heating tenon and small pieces of food gradually evaporated moisture. Dryers practically did not differ from a simple household oven.

Further, conventional devices appeared, where not only the heating element was located, but also the fan. The air was dispersed along the entire perimeter of the chamber and provided a more uniform heat supply. Such dryers can have vertical or horizontal airflow. They are the most popular models on the market, as they have modest dimensions, are easy to operate, equipped with removable nets or trays. Only two claims can be made against them:

  • cheap devices have a plastic case, which will get very hot when used for more than 10 hours;
  • with any type of blowing, the part of the container that is far from the fan (central, top, or bottom) warms up less than the side ones, and drying does not proceed evenly.

How To Use A Fruit And Vegetable Dehydrator?

The best achievement of designers in the field of preparation of dry products today is recognized as an infrared dryer, which provides uniform horizontal heat of moderate temperature, ensuring the safety of nutrients.

Quality dehydrators not only have a temperature control mode but also programs for various products. Some units do an excellent job with jerky or offer yogurt making.

Premium models have some intelligence and can decide exactly how to dry a product. If the owner is not sure of the correct model, then he can select the “auto” option, and the machine will evaporate moisture up to the recommended 3%, which will be measured using the built-in hygrometer.

Varieties of dehydrators

Varieties of dehydrators

It is customary to distinguish two types of devices for removing moisture:

  • vertical;
  • horizontal.

As for the vertical one, it costs much less than the second option. It can expand the trays to the desired size. The main disadvantage is the mixing of flavors because the airflow is directed from one side. In addition, the appliance must be turned off to check the readiness of the food.

The horizontal type device is more expensive but has more advantages. First of all, you can control the process itself thanks to the glass door. Food flavors do not mix. It is worth noting a more attractive appearance.

There is only one drawback of horizontal dehydrators – the inability to put additional trays.

Temperature control

The range of temperatures for different types of food is quite large. So, spicy herbs are best prepared with the most gentle heating from 30 to 35 degrees. For the evaporation of moisture from vegetables and fruits, ranges from 50 to 60 ºС are selected. And such dense workpieces as meat and fish will require a temperature rise of up to 75 degrees.

An even supply of heat is also important. Even the most inexpensive convection drying will cope with its task better with horizontal airflow.

The shape of the device does not affect the quality of the finished product. It can be round, oval, square, or rectangular. Of greater importance is the availability of removable trays or racks that can be removed without interrupting the cycle. This will allow you to start drying fruits of different liquid saturation. For example, apricots (future dried apricots) will take 2 times longer than apples, at the same gentle temperature of 35 degrees. Therefore, it is better to remove the latter from drying in the middle of the cycle.

What can be dried in the dehydrators?

What can be dried in the dehydrators?

Such a device is needed because it makes life comfortable, plus, it’s easy to use. It can dry the following:

  • fruits and vegetables;
  • nuts or mushrooms.

But that is not all. A modern, high-quality dehydrator is also used to remove moisture from herbs used for medicinal purposes. The appliance is well suited for preparing the following food:

  • Pizza;
  • cakes;
  • pancakes;
  • crispbreads.

Typically, there are several recipes in the owner’s manual to make life easier for the owner.

How do you use a vegetable dehydrator?

How do you use a vegetable dehydrator?

Before using the dehydrator, you should carefully study the manufacturer’s instructions. Professional suppliers of kitchen appliances provide different modes depending on the type of food and also build in timers.

Expensive professional models have not only high power but also a wide range of possibilities. For example, they can supply not only nets but also special containers for making homemade yogurts.

Advice! It is worth paying attention to the technical specifications for the noise level because the evaporation of moisture can take more than one day. Therefore, it is important to understand how loud the device will be at night.

Preparation for drying

After purchasing a new kitchen assistant, you must unpack all parts and check the complete set according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is useful to carry out a test cycle at maximum temperature and a short period without food so that impurities and odors from factory components evaporate. If the appliance is working properly, you can start dehydrating the food.

Drying

For drying, it is better to select homogeneous workpieces, i.e. dry vegetables, fruits, meat, fish separately or prepare yogurt. Since all ingredients have their flavor, it is not recommended to mix them in one cycle.

As a rule, the manufacturer gives recommendations for cutting – the thickness and length of pieces for drying different types. If you neglect the advice, then too thick plastics may not completely evaporate moisture and will rot during storage. When cutting very thin pieces, there is a risk of crumbling crackers, without pleasant taste and useful elements.

If the dryer does not have automatic modes or only uses vertical airflow, then this means that the cycle will have to be controlled manually. If possible, move the mesh during operation, it is necessary to check the quality of evaporation. If the food does not dry out evenly, then they need to be shifted periodically. In this case, a rectangular cabinet with pull-out nets will be more convenient.

How should you prepare food before dehydrating?

How should you prepare food before dehydrating?

Drying of meat/poultry

Homemade jerky is a flavorful dried meat product that is especially popular with outdoor enthusiasts as it is easy to transport. Jerky can be made with most lean meats, including beef, pork, venison, or poultry. When cooking and dehydrating meat/poultry, basic food safety rules must be followed:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food.
  • Store product refrigerated or frozen until use.
  • Raw meat/poultry and poultry juices should be kept separate from other foods. Wash cutting boards, utensils, countertops, etc. with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat. After washing, disinfect with a solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water and air dry.
  • Marinate meat/poultry in the refrigerator. Discard the marinade after removing the meat/poultry.
  • Store raw meat/poultry and dried jerky separately.

ATTENTION! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends pre-cooking meat/poultry before dehydration or baking after dehydration to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Preparing jerky from meat/poultry strips

 Choose lean meats such as beef and venison tenderloin, cereals and rounds; pork loin and ham tenderloins; breast, thigh, and leg of the bird. Trim away visible fat, connective tissue, and cartilage from the meat.

Remove skin and fat from poultry. Freeze meat/poultry until firm but not hard to make slicing easier. Cut strips ¼ “thick, 1” wide, and 5 to 6 “long. Chop the kernels for a softer jerky or together with the kernels for a more chewy jerky.

Season the meat/poultry strips by marinating them in your favorite marinade, commercial marinade, or use the marinade recipe on page 9. Place the marinade and strips in a resealable plastic storage bag. Close the bag and shake until the strips are completely covered. Refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Flip the bag frequently to cover the strips evenly.

See WARNING! See note above for cooking meat/poultry before or after baking after dehydration. For a more desirable texture, bake after dehydration. Pre-cooked meat/poultry will dry faster, but the final product will have a dry crumbly consistency.

 

If you prefer to cook the meat before dehydration, follow the instructions below:

Preparation Before Dehydration

After marinating, transfer the strips and liquid marinade to a skillet. If no liquid remains, add water to coat the strips. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the marinade strips and place them in a colander to drain. Blot the strips dry. Then place them on the trays of the dehydrator. Place the strips close together, but not overlapping.

The average drying time is 4 to 8 hours. See Information “Determination of dryness” below. If you haven’t cooked the meat/poultry before it becomes dehydrated, bake it afterward by following the instructions below.

Bake After Dehydration

Preheat oven to 275 ° F. (Check with oven thermometer for accurate temperature reading.) Remove loose strips from dehydrator trays and place them on a baking sheet close together without touching each other.

Heat the jerky in a preheated oven for 10 minutes (the strips should sizzle when removed from the oven). Remove the jerky from the baking sheet and cool to room temperature.

 

Cooking minced meat jerky

Mix 93% lean ground meat with your favorite commercially available jerky seasoning and salt following the directions on the seasoning/salting package.

Place the minced meat in a Presto ™ squeeze gun * or cookie press and squeeze the meat directly onto the dehydrator trays, making sure that the meat does not touch or overlap.

Dry the jerky for 4 to 8 hours. See Information “Determination of dryness” below. Roast meat after dehydration following the directions above.

Determination of dryness

Start checking the jerky after about 4 hours and then every 30 minutes. Drying time will depend on many factors. These factors include the type of meat/poultry, the amount of fat, and whether or not it has been pretreated before dehydration. In addition, the time will depend on the size/thickness of the parts and how full the trays are.

Sufficiently dry jerky will crack when bent, but will not break. Do not use venison or game meat that is contaminated with entrails for cooking jerky.

Packaging and storage

After cooling, blot the jerky with paper towels to remove any greasy drops that may have formed on the jerky. Follow the information “Packaging and storage of dried food”. Cured meats can be stored for 1 to 2 months at room temperature. However, to preserve the best taste and quality, store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

Drying fruit and fruit rolls

Drying fruit and fruit rolls

Dried fruits and fruit rolls (or skins) are nutritious and portable snacks. Drying the fruit enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit as moisture is removed.

Selection and preparation

Pick fruits when they are at their peak. Wash the fruit to remove dirt and debris. There are many options when it comes to drying fruit, and you should be guided by personal preference.

Fruit can be cut, cut in half, or left intact (if small); peeled or unrefined; pretreated or left untreated. Fruits that are thinly sliced ​​and peeled dry the fastest. Whole fruit will take the longest time to dry.

Cut the fruit evenly into slices about an inch thick. Leftover fruits such as blueberries, cranberries, and grapes should be dipped in boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then immersed in ice water to crack the skin. This procedure will shorten the drying time.

Preliminary processing

Many fruits darken quickly after peeling and/or cutting and continue to darken even after the fruit is dry. This is because the natural enzymes of these fruits are exposed to air.

There are several pre-treatment options to prevent discoloration. No pre-treatment is required but is recommended to preserve the color and texture of the dried fruit. Some people may notice a slight change in the taste of pre-processed fruits. See the Fruit Drying Guide determine which fruit will be best pretreated. You can try different options and choose which one you like best:

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – Ascorbic acid in tablets or powder is available in pharmacies. Mix 2½ tablespoons of powdered ascorbic acid in 1 liter of cold water.

Vitamin C tablets (six 500 mg tablets are equal to 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid) should be crushed before mixing with water. Place chopped fruits such as bananas, peaches, apples, or pears in the mixture and soak for 10 minutes. Remove fruit and strain well before placing on drying trays.

Ascorbic Acid Blends — These commercially available products such as Mrs. Wages Fresh Fruit Preserver *, are a combination of ascorbic acid and sugar and are commonly used for fresh fruit, canning, and freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using these mixtures.

Lemon Juice – Mix equal parts lemon juice and cold water. Place the sliced fruit in the solution and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove fruit and strain well before placing on drying trays.

Place fruits on the dehydrator trays in a single layer, close to each other, but not touching or overlapping. Refer to the Fructo Drying Guide for estimated cooking, pretreatment, and drying times.

Determination of dryness

Refer to the Fruit Drying Guide on page 7 and start checking the fruit at the beginning of the medium drying time range. Remove several pieces of fruit from each tray of the dehydrator and allow to cool to room temperature.

Fruits are dry enough if they are soft and pliable, but not sticky. Fruit folded in half should not stick together. If desired, the apple and banana wedges can be dried until crisp. If the fruit seems to have a lot of moisture, check it every 1 to 2 hours. If the fruit looks almost cooked, check again after 30 minutes. Always check the fruit from each tray.

Conditioning

Once dry, let the fruit cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour before packing. In dried fruit, an uneven amount of moisture may remain due to differences in the size of the different pieces. Although the fruit appears to be dry, some individual pieces may still contain moisture.

Conditioning is a procedure that can be used to distribute moisture more evenly, reduce the chance of mold growth, and determine if you have removed enough moisture before storage.

To condition, place the fruit pieces in a clean plastic or glass container, close, and let stand for 1 week. This will allow the drier fruits to absorb excess moisture that may be present in other fruits. Shake the jar daily to separate the pieces and look for condensation. If condensation has formed, remove the fruit and dry it for a while. After conditioning, follow the instructions for “Packaging and storage of dried food”.

 

Fruit rolls (leather) *

Fruit rolls (or fruit skins) are made by drying a thin layer of mashed fruit on a flat surface. After drying, the fruit layer is removed from the surface and rolled out.

The term “leather” comes from the leathery texture of the pureed fruit after it has dried. Almost any fruit or fruit combination can be mashed and dried for fruit rolls. The quality of the fruit roll depends on whether the fruit contains low or high amounts of naturally occurring starch called pectin.

Fruits with a high pectin content will stick together into a single sheet and peel easily, while fruits with a low pectin content will flake and crack rather than peel.

If you are using low pectin fruit, add another high pectin fruit to improve the texture of the roll. Fruits high in pectin include apples, apricots, blueberries, cranberries, figs, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapples, and plums.

Low pectin fruits include cherries, citrus fruits, raspberries, and strawberries. If you are using a low pectin fruit and a high pectin fruit, use equal parts of each for best results.

Preparation

To make fruit rolls, you need a Presto® Fruit Roll Sheet *. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray to the fruit roll sheet.

 

ATTENTION! If you are using cooking spray, make sure it does not get into the lid of the power compartment, as the spray is highly flammable.

For each sheet of fruit roll, use about 1½ cups pureed fruit. *

Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit and remove any dented areas. Wash the fruit and remove the skins, seeds, and stems. Cut the fruit into pieces and use a food processor or blender to grind until smooth (applesauce consistency). To start the puree process, you may need about 1 tablespoon of fruit juice or water.

If desired, the fruit can be pre-processed to maintain its natural color. Add 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice for every 1½ cups of pureed fruit. See “Fruit Drying Guide” on page 7 to determine which fruit is best pretreated.

The natural sweetness of the fruit is enhanced by drying. However, if you prefer a sweeter fruit roll, you can add honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, or sugar to the puree.

Try a different amount of sweetener, starting with 1 tablespoon for every 1½ cups of fruit puree, as you like. Fruit with added sweeteners dries longer than fruit without sugar.

Canned fruits can also be used to make fruit rolls. Drain the fruit juice, saving the juice for later use. Place the fruit in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Applesauce can be used straight out of the container.

For frozen fruits, thaw and chop until smooth. Pour the mashed fruit onto a lightly oiled sheet of fruit rolls and spread with a spatula to form an even layer about an inch thick. Place the filled fruit roll on the dehydrator tray and start drying. The average drying time for all fruit rolls is 4 to 7 hours.

 

Determination of dryness

Acceptable dried fruit rolls will feel slightly sticky to the touch, but will not dent when touched in the center. Start checking the fruit roll after 4 hours of drying. If additional drying time is required, check every 30 minutes. In a slightly warm state, starting at the outer edge, gently remove the fruit roll from the sheet. Wrap lightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. For immediate enjoyment, slice into strips or rolls and cut into slices for serving.

NOTE: Remove the fruit rolls from the sheets before cutting them.

 

Fruit Drying Guide for Dehydrator

Drying times are highly variable and will depend on the type and amount of feed, the thickness, evenness of the feed pieces, humidity, air temperature, personal preference, and the age of the plant at harvest.

Fruit Drying Guide for Dehydrator

Drying vegetables

Vegetables dry much faster than fruits. Moisture is quickly lost at the end of the drying period. As a result, vegetables need to be checked frequently towards the end of drying to avoid overdrying. Food turns brown when dry.

When drying small vegetables such as peas or carrots, we recommend using a wire mesh. * Mesh mesh will help prevent smaller food items from falling through the grates of the tray during dehydration.

Selection and preparation

Wash vegetables to remove dirt and debris. Trim vegetables to remove fibrous or woody parts, as well as areas of bruising and rot, peel and slice. Chop or cut vegetables into equal-sized pieces.

Preliminary processing

The blanching process involves exposing vegetables to a hot enough temperature to deactivate the enzymes. Blanching is necessary so that natural enzymes do not cause loss of color and aroma during drying and storage. Blanching also relaxes the tissue walls so moisture can escape more easily during drying and get in during rehydration.

Blanching can be done in water or steam. Blanching with water causes a greater loss of nutrients, but is faster than blanching with steam and provides more even heat penetration.

Steam blanching

Fill a deep saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Place vegetables loosely in a basket or colander to allow steam to circulate freely around the vegetables. Do not fill the basket or colander with vegetables more than 2 inches thick.

Place the basket or colander in the pot, making sure it doesn’t come into contact with the boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam for the times indicated in the Vegetable Drying Guide.

Blanching the water

Fill a large saucepan with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Place vegetables loosely in a basket or colander and submerge in boiling water. Cover and blanch for the time indicated in the Vegetable Drying Guide. The water should boil in less than 1 minute.

Otherwise, too many vegetables have been added to the basket; reduce the number of vegetables added for the next batch. Blanch in water for the time indicated in the Vegetable Drying Guide.

Immediately after blanching with steam or water, immerse vegetables in cold water to chill them quickly. Drain the vegetables and place them in one layer on the trays in the dehydrator. For drying times, see the Vegetable Drying Guide.

Determination of dryness

Refer to the Vegetable Drying Guide and start checking vegetables at the beginning of the medium drying time range. Remove several pieces of vegetables from each tray of the dehydrator and allow to cool to room temperature. Check for dryness by breaking the pieces in half.

Most vegetables will be crispy when dried properly and break easily. If the vegetables do not break easily, additional drying time is needed. If there is a lot of moisture left in the vegetables, check them every 1-2 hours. If the vegetables seem almost ready, check again after 30 minutes. Always check vegetables from each tray.

 

Vegetable Drying Guide for Dehydrator

Drying times are highly variable and will depend on the type and amount of feed, the thickness, evenness of the feed pieces, humidity, air temperature, personal preference, and the age of the plant at harvest.

Vegetable Drying Guide for Dehydrator

Dried food packaging and storage

  • Dried foods must be properly packaged to prevent re-absorption of moisture and microbial degradation. Pack food in clean, dry, airtight containers. For storage, glass jars or freezer containers with tight-fitting lids are suitable. Resealable plastic freezer bags are also acceptable.
  • Store packaged dried foods in a cool dry place away from light. Higher temperatures and exposure to light will shorten storage time and result in loss of quality and nutrients. Most dried fruit, when properly packaged and stored, will last for 1 year at 60 ° F or 6 months at 80 ° F. Fruit rolls should be stored for up to 1 month at room temperature. The shelf life of vegetables is about half that of fruits. If food needs to be stored longer, store it in the freezer.
  • Place vegetables and fruits in separate storage containers to avoid flavor transfer.

Tips for recovering and using dried foods

Fruits:

Dried fruits are a great snack. They can also be used as ingredients in breakfast cereals, cereals, muffins, bread, and other baked goods.

Dried fruits can be used as they are or softened before eating. To soften dried fruits, immerse them in boiling water and soak for 5 minutes, or place the fruit in a cooking basket over a saucepan of boiling water and steam for 5 minutes, or until the fruit is tender.

Vegetables:

Dried vegetables have a unique flavor and texture. They are best used as ingredients in soups, stews, casseroles, and sauces, rather than as side dishes on their own. Dried vegetables can also be ground into flakes or powder using a blender. Flakes or powders can then be added to enhance the flavor of other foods.

When adding dried vegetables to soups, they can be added without soaking. Dried vegetables used for other purposes must be soaked before cooking. To soak, start with 1½ to 2 cups of boiling water for each cup of dried vegetables. Soak for 1-1 hour, or until the vegetables are back to nearly the same size as they were before dehydration. Blanched vegetables recover faster than blanched vegetables.

Add water as needed while soaking. After soaking, simmer vegetables in soak water until tender, allowing excess water to evaporate.

Cleaning and storing the appliance

How To Use A Fruit And Vegetable Dehydrator?

It is worth paying attention to the material of the containers and nets. Metal structures are preferable because, despite the stronger heating, they absorb fewer odors and are easier to clean.

After use, it is necessary to wipe the internal container of the device and rinse the nets or grates (some manufacturers allow cleaning removable parts in a dishwasher).

See also: Multi-Cooker Benefits And Harms To Human Health, Advantages And Disadvantages

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