Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dehydrator Tuesday

Remember that we bought this?

And I probably didn't mention that I also ordered this:

Well, I'd spent a couple of evenings studying the minimal manual that came with the dehydrator, and the excellent (and highly conversational) instructions and guidelines in this book, so yesterday, I finally felt ready to give the machine a test run.

I cleaned out the refrigerator veggie drawer.
We have here: two kinds of cherry tomatoes (most halved, but some whole, with the skins pierced, just to see what would happen)(the book recommends experimentation, and I fully intend to comply), old carrots, a whole bag of radishes sliced, Roma tomatoes sliced, some small sweet peppers (the pretty ones- yellow and orange), a heaping tablespoon of pickled jalapeno slices (again, for experimentation purposes), and two medium sized fresh jalapenos, sliced.

The sheets for fruit leather making haven't arrived yet, so I put the pickled pepper slices on a little hunk of plastic wrap, but everything else went right on the plastic dehydrator trays. I turned the machine on, set the temp (125 degs F) and the time (4 hours) (setting took less time than typing the words) and left it to its own devices.

Well, no, I checked frequently (opening the drawers lowers the temp, of course). I realized after the first 4 hour period, that 125 degs isn't warm enough. Next time, I'll set it at 135 or 140 (the internet has conflicting info on that, but since I'm not a *raw* person, the higher temp is fine with me).

The book says if you're going to dry peppers, that it's best to do it outdoors, or in a very well-ventilated room. I figured two fresh peppers wouldn't stink up the joint.

I was wrong- not that it was a *stink* exactly, but we were very aware that someone had committed jalapeno in the house. If I become tempted to dry an entire batch of them, I will definitely haul the unit outside. Ditto with onions. Or garlic.

 Anyway, an hour or so into the second 4-hour period, the radishes had shrunk enough that they were starting to fall through the holes in the trays. They'd lost easily 2/3 of their volume. I started removing individual slices as they fell.
Also the smallest of the carrots, the pickled peppers, and a few of the more thinly sliced tomatoes.

I know now why there are no recipes for dehydrated radishes. Eating one is like chewing vaguely radish-flavored cardboard.
So I decided to rehydrate a slice, just to see what would happen.
What happens is you get a soggy, vaguely radish-flavored piece of cardboard floating in pinkish, radish-scented water. Ah well, experimentation, right?

But the sweet peppers turned out beautifully (and even more sweet), the fresh jalapenos are maybe a bit crisper than I intended, but definitely usable. And the tomatoes... ah the tomatoes... we ate many of them right out of the dehydrator, and tonight we're having dried tomato and sausage pizza.

Right now? I have crackers in the dehydrator, and tonight, I think we're going to tackle jerky. Never a dull moment around here.


maxine said...

I read recently about roasting radishes and how it totally transforms the taste in the most pleasant way...since I don't have a dehydrator (yet) to play with, I think I might give that a try...

Malerie said...

I love dehydrated bananas, I eat them all the time. Have you ever tried strawberries? I wonder what they're like..

Peter said...

Great post as I am learning quickly. I like my small nesco.