May 2, 2013

How to dehydrate pineapple

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How to dehydrate pineapple

Drying pineapple is a fantastic way to preserve it as a healthy snack. As a mother with two small kids, it’s a way I can take a sticky, generally messy fruit and make it a snack safe for the car or for on-the-go! It’s great to chop up and add to trail mix.

This particular time, I used canned pineapple!  WinCo had canned Dole pineapple for $0.31 cents a can back in February, so I had stocked up on sliced pineapple in juice (not syrup). I couldn’t find any information online about drying canned pineapple – so I thought I’d just try it (the price was right!). It worked great, in my opinion. As we head into the summer we should see fresh pineapple for as low as $1 each – and when that happens ‘ll be picking some up for drying at that time.

How to dry pineapple:

Pineapple-on-dehydrator-trays

1.) If using canned pineapple, use the sliced variety. Drain pineapple well. Place slices on drying trays. If using fresh pineapple, remove skin and core pineapple (these pineapple corers and slicer would be ideal!)

2.) Cut pineapple into even slices, about 1/4 inch thick

3.) Place on your dehydrator trays, dry at 130 degrees F for about 14 to 16 hours

4.) You’ll know it’s done when the pineapple feels dry and leathery but is still flexible

I dried two whole cans of pineapple and my kids had eaten it within 24 hours! They loved it.

Dried-Pineapple-how-to-dry pin it.

I love how they look like little flowers. Wish I was creative enough to figure out a way to use them as “flowers” in some other application – perhaps as a cupcake topper or something?

Dried-Pineapple-piecespin it.

Store in an airtight container away from sun, moisture. . .and if you want them to last for more than a day. . . away from your kids.

I referenced these books especially, which I’m guessing you can find at your local library (or Amazon):

As for the type of dehydrator that you need – I think all of them are pretty great. First you can check your local thrift shops, because they are big appliances I think people get tired of storing them and donate them a lot.

Nesco-Food-Dehydrator-best-price

Amazon has this one – Nesco American Harvest FD-37 400 Watt Food Dehydrator – for $34.99. I have a lot of friends who have this one and love it!

Nesco-FD-80-square-dehydrator-1

Amazon also has this Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator for just $59. This is a great price. Regular price is $98 and it has nearly 5 out of 5 star reviews.

Excalibur-dehydrator-reviews

I personally have the Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator, Black – but it’s probably much more than the average person needs. The only reason I splurged is because I found a crazy good deal that included a lightning deal and a gift card I had. But I have to say that I do love it and it has amazing reviews for a dehydrator.

I’ve been a drying a lot of things lately! See my recent posts:

I’d love to hear from you – what do you dehydrate? How do you use your dehydrator? Have you dehydrated pineapple before? Have you used canned pineapple before?

April 18, 2013

How to dehydrate mushrooms

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How to dehydrate mushrooms

Drying mushrooms is a great way to preserve them for later – which is exactly what I wanted to do with the pile of mushrooms in my fridge. This was my first time dehydrating mushrooms and it was incredibly easy – and I’m happy I now have them on hand for soups and sauces down the road.

When researching how to do dehydrate mushrooms I found a lot of disclaimers about dehydrating wild mushrooms you find in nature. If you’re not an expert forager, don’t go eating random mushrooms you find in the woods. If it’s toxic in it’s regular form, it certainly isn’t going to be any safer after drying.

I stick to store bought mushrooms, thank you very much. I might *live on the edge* and buy marked down mushrooms, but that’s as exciting as I get with ‘shrooms. This time I dried some full size portobello mushrooms (manager markdown!) and some baby portobellos (Costco!).

Mushrooms-Portobello

The first thing you’ll want to do is wipe the mushrooms off. Clean ’em up just like you would before cooking with them. I didn’t want to wash or rinse my mushrooms because this would only add moisture, which seems silly right before drying them. I wiped the mushrooms down with a paper towel. I bet if you wanted to rinse them off, it wouldn’t hurt. Just dry them well before dehydrating.

Mushrooms-Remove-Stems-to-dry

Then you may want to remove the stems. Because portobello mushrooms have a thicker stem – I opted to remove the stem. I saved those for a batch of vegetable broth.Some of the fancier mushrooms I think have a lof flavor in the stem – so you decide if you want to keep it on or not.

Drying-Mushrooms-in-dehydrator-temp

Then slice the mushrooms in 1/4 inch slices and spread them out on dehydrator tray.

how-to-dry-mushrooms-dehydrator

Dry mushrooms at 130 degrees F for 8 to 14 hours*. I opted for 12 hours. If mushrooms have any moisture remaining in them, could grow bacteria or mold, so I opted for a little longer. They will shrink a lot in the process.

*I saw some sources that recommend drying the mushrooms at 90 degrees F for a few hours and then increasing it to 130 degrees F. But I cannot find any information on why they are recommending this. Anyone know? I just went with one temp, the whole time.

Dried-Mushrooms-on-dehydrator-tray

I won’t lie. Drying mushrooms may leave an earthy smell in your house. If you are generally sensitive to mushroom smells, this could bother you. I live near Ostroms Mushroom farm, so I’m used to it. You might not even notice, but I like to give you a heads up.

How to Store Dried Mushrooms

As with most dried foods, you want to store it in an airtight container away from moisture and light. Places like World Market Cost Plus have inexpensive  pantry jars with sealable lids (like the one pictured below). These can be labeled and added to your pantry shelf!

Dehydrated-Mushrooms-how-to

How to Rehydrate Mushrooms

I’m not an expert on this since this is my first time dehydrating mushrooms. BUT from what I’m seeing – the best method is to soak in cold water for about 4 hours. You can soak them in hot water to speed up the process, cover the bowl with a plate or lid. Everything I read said to keep the water you use to rehydrate the dried mushrooms, as it makes good stock. I’m planning to use the dehydrated mushrooms in soups, so I’ll just add a little more broth to compensate. If you’re a drying expert, and you know how to rehydrate dried mushrooms, please chime in here!

I referenced these books especially, which I’m guessing you can find at your local library (or Amazon):

As for the type of dehydrator that you need – I think all of them are pretty great. First you can check your local thrift shops, because they are big appliances I think people get tired of storing them and donate them a lot.

Nesco-FD-80-square-dehydrator-1

If you’re thinking about getting a dehydrator, Amazon has this Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator for just $55. This is the best price it’s ever been on Amazon. Regular price is $98 and it has nearly 5 out of 5 star reviews.

Excalibur-dehydrator-reviews

I personally have the Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator, Black – but it’s probably much more than the average person needs. The only reason I splurged is because I found a crazy good deal that included a lightning deal and a gift card I had. But I have to say that I do love it and it has amazing reviews for a dehydrator.

I’ve been a drying a lot of things lately! See my recent posts:

I’d love to hear from you – what do you dehydrate? How do you use your dehydrator? Have you dehydrated mushrooms before?

April 16, 2013

How to dehydrate strawberries

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How to dehydrate strawberries

In addition to dehydrating mangoes, I also dehydrated strawberries last week, and they were so delicious and easy.

Wash-Strawberries

The first thing you’ll want to do is wash and dry your strawberries.

Hulled-Strawberry-Dehydrate

Then you hull them – basically chop off the green top (feed that to your chickens!).

Strawberry-Slices-for-drying

Slice strawberries into 1/4 thick slices.

Drying-Strawberries-sliced-tray

And lay them out on your dehydrator tray.

Dry at 130 degrees F for 8 to 16 hours. You’ll know they are done when they feel dry, leathery and no longer juicy. But they are still pliable.

Dried-Strawberries

And interesting fact I read in The Dehydrator Bible: Includes over 400 Recipes – that locally grown, fresh-picked strawberries will actually dry out faster than varieties that are grown for a longer shelf life! I had no idea, but I’ll have to remember that when I pick up flats of berries from my local berry farm this summer!

My only complaint so far is they get eaten so quickly. I’d love to put them in a jar and admire them all afternoon, but my kids (and husband) devour them within a day. At least they’re getting healthy foods and it sure is fun to see them enjoy it so much.

I’m not an expert at this by any means. I referenced these two books especially, which I’m guessing you can find at your local library (or Amazon):

As for the type of dehydrator that you need – I think all of them are pretty great. First you can check your local thrift shops, because they are big appliances I think people get tired of storing them and donate them a lot.

Nesco-FD-80-square-dehydrator-1

Amazon has this Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging on sale for $55. This is the best price it’s ever been on Amazon. Regular price is $98 and it has nearly 5 out of 5 star reviews.

Excalibur-dehydrator-reviews

I personally have the Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator, Black – but it’s certainly a dehydrator on steroids – probably much more than the average person needs. The only reason I splurged is because I found a crazy good deal that included a lightning deal and a gift card I had. But I have to say that I do love it and I’m super impressed.

Dried-fruit-stored-in-jars

Check out the mangoes that I also dried recently!

I’d love to hear from you – what do you dehydrate? How do you use your dehydrator? Have you dehydrated strawberries before?

April 13, 2013

How to dehydrate mangoes

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Dehydrate mangoes

I just dried mangoes for the first time and they were so awesome, I just had to share!

Fresh-Mangoes-to-dehydrate

First you’ll need a batch of ripe mangoes. I bought a box at Costco. They came out to $1 each, which is not super amazing, but not bad either. Here in the Northwest if you can get them for $0.50 – $0.80 that is stock-up talk.

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