There are may reasons why Fall is a great time to fire up that dehydrator and start putting it to use. As the summer winds to a close we come into what is known as the season of bounty and harvest! So much bounty in fact that many of us don’t know what to do with all of it! If you have fruit trees or a garden (or a friendly neighbor with one) you’ll know what i mean. One can only eat so many fresh tomatoes before they either start going bad or start loosing their fantastic juicy, sweet and salty appeal. What is the solution? Bust out that dehydrator, slice up all that extra fruit and veggie goodness, and get yourself set up with enough dried goods to last throughout the winter! Once soaked and reconstituted, home made dried tomatoes make the most delicious base for flavorful raw tomato soups and spaghetti sauces! Keep your eyes peeled for fruit trees or berry bushes in unlikely places, even if they are in someone else’s yard most people are more than happy to let people pick their extra fruit if it’s about to end up back in the soil.
Raw, dehydrated foods are more nutritionally dense and beneficial to the body than cooked foods as they are low temperature dried, and therefore retain many more of their heat sensitive nutrients and enzymes. Drying food for preservation purposes has been a practice used for centuries. The very first food dehydrator was invented in 1975, and before that people simply utilized the power of the sun. Making big batches of raw snacks in your dehydrator is also a great way to save time (and money) during Fall back to school season. If you have an abundance of yummy crunchy snacks like raw crackers, kale chips, veggie chips, nori snacks, breads, granola bars, raw cereal, cookies, etc. the odds are that you and your family will be reaching for those healthier options during meals and snack time.
Beyond making dried snacks and treats the dehydrator can also be used to create flavorful, dense, and WARM meals during the cold season. As the temperatures start to cool down the body naturally starts to gravitate towards denser calorie sources. It is a total myth that every meal on the raw food diet has to be served cold. A bowl of Thai coconut soup warmed in the dehydrator for 30 minutes will retain all of it’s vitality and potency all the while warming those bones on a cold day. Throw in some spices like ginger, cayenne, chilis, and turmeric and you have a recipe that will surely kick up that internal heat by a few notches! This method of warming food doesn’t end with soup. You can utilize the very same technique for dishes like raw lasagna and pasta, casseroles, cheezy broccoli (and other saucy vegetable dishes) and even raw pizza! The sauce, vegetables and cheeze will concentrate and become even more flavorful! By drying foods we remove some if not most of the water, but actually concentrate the flavor of the food. This is how you can create nearly “cooked” flavors and textures while still preserving the nutrients and vitality of your food. You will not miss cooked pizza if you eat a raw one straight from the dehydrator once in a while! It is important to also take into account how much water content is in your food before the dehydration process. Water rich foods like thick manna breads, or deep dish lasagna will actually become less warm than foods like kale chips or thin flax crackers. It is often helpful to turn up your water rich foods to 135-145 degrees F for the first few hours. The “sweating” action of the food will actually keep the temperature lower, you’ll reduce your over-all dehydration time, and you’ll have less risk for fermentation that way.
Which Dehydrator is Best for Me?
There are several great dehydrators to choose from. You can’t really go wrong with either the Good4U or an Excalibur. Both possess drying technology that allows very even and consistent heat levels and air circulation, and both are built well and are extremely easy to use. The element of even air circulation and temperature is important because this will ensure your foods stay at your preferred temperature. Also your foods will be evenly heated and dried regardless of whether they’re stacked on the top or bottom trays. The Excalibur 2000 Economy series comes in 3 different sizes: a 4 tray (model 2400), a 5 tray (model 2500) and a 9 tray (model 2900). The Good4U comes in a 6 and 10 tray size. While they both do a great job, there are several differences to take into account. The Excalibur’s fan does tend to be a bit louder than the Good4U’s. The Good4U has a timer while the Excalibur 2000 models do not. Good4U models don’t have a door for closer, rather the trays themselves create a shield to protect your food from outside contaminants, while the Excalibur have a plastic door which hinges shut for protection. For an everyday, beginners dehydrator the Excalibur 2500 is a great place to start and will fit nicely on most countertops. On RawGuru.com these dehydrators will all come with everything you need to start having fun with dehydration including complimentary non-stick teflon sheets, ship completely free, and come with complete warranties with the manufacturer.
Looking for ideas on what to make with your dehydrator this season? Here are some great ideas!
Savory Snacks: kale chips, nut/seed and veggie crackers, seaweed chips, raw breads, Thai coconut “jerky”
Sweet Snacks: cookies, granola bars, cereal, granola and sprouted buckwheaties, trail mix, fruit leather, dried fruit of all kinds
Meals: brazil nut croquettes, veggie burgers and patties, marinated vegetables, cheezy broccoli/cauliflower, lasagna, pasta, pizza, casseroles, falafel, walnut “neat” balls, warm soups
Desserts: cookies, macaroons, pie crusts, cinnamon rolls