I am a self-proclaimed “snacker.” My husband likes to poke fun at my tendency to graze all day, grabbing a bit of this and that. As healthy as I eat, for some reason fruit does not usually appeal to me for a snack. Occasionally I will reach for a grapefruit or plum, but I crave something a little more, for lack of a better word, “snacky.” I like crunch. I want texture. I can admit it!
I have been hearing about dehydrating foods for a long time now. Scanning the aisle of expensive dehydrated fruits and veggies at the grocery store had me longing for a dehydrator of my own, and I finally pulled the trigger and got one. I am so glad I did!
Dehydrating food basically removes about 75% of the moisture from food while retaining almost 100% of the nutritional value as fresh fruits and vegetables.
It seems that I found the answer to my snacking dilemma in fruit and veggie “chips.” I get the satisfaction of chips with the health benefits of produce.
So far I have made kale, apples, pineapple, peaches and mangoes. The key to successful dehydrating is to slice your fruit, or tear your kale into pieces that are as uniform as possible so that they dehydrate at the same rate. Dehydrators have multiple trays, so it is ok to remove a tray of a certain food if it dehydrates quicker.
Food takes a long time in the dehydrator (approx 8-10 hours, depending on the food and thickness) so I put it in at night before I go to bed and it is ready in the morning. I never have to worry about storing what I make because I snack on it all day long when it is on my counter. I leave it on a plate, and I end up eating a head of kale or three apples when I graze throughout the day. I know you have to be careful with the amount of sugar from fruit, but there is no added sugar in what I make, unlike many store bought brands, and it is all natural.
If you do want to store dehydrated food, you need to do so in a jar, bag or container that is airtight. Any moisture will compromise the taste and consistency of the food, as well as allow bacteria to grow.
When I dehydrate apples I add cinnamon to them. I simply slice the apples (red or green) and hold the tray over the sink as I sprinkle the cinnamon on, so that the excess falls into the sink, not all over my counter. YUM!
Kale chips are healthy and addicting. I usually make mine with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. I toss them in a bowl and then transfer them to the dehydrator. This recipe for Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips from blisstree.com sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to try it too!
You can get creative and make beef jerky, turkey jerky and more if you want to expand from the fruit and veggie route. Many dehydrators come with a book on cooking times and ideas to try.
Have you every used a dehydrator? What is your favorite thing to make?