A few years ago I tried my hand at dehydrating, but I went with a relatively low-end dehydrator. I quickly learned my mistake. My tomatoes developed mold before they finished drying, and the dehydrator died while we were drying apples. We finished the apples, complete with autumn spices, in the clothes dryer on the sweater rack. I’m not kidding; for weeks afterwards, all of our clothes smelled like apples and cinnamon. I returned that dehydrator to the store but knew I’d be getting another one.
I’ve been reading dehydrator reviews ever since. I settled on a smaller Excalibur with a thermostat and 26-hour timer. It wasn’t cheap, but I got it with a free 10-year warranty, and if it works as it should, we’ll save a lot of money by preserving our harvest and making turkey jerky at home.
For example, this year I’m growing Principe Borghese tomatoes, which farmers developed especially for sun drying. It’s too humid here to sun dry, but we can use the dehydrator to get similar results with better nutrition. We like pieces of dried tomatoes in salads, on pizzas, and in pasta sauces all winter and spring long. Have you priced sun-dried tomatoes recently? They are expensive enough that I ration them in our house, but no more! We can make our own now, for pennies. Ditto on turkey jerky. I ate a fair amount of turkey jerky on our Grand Canyon trip on the days when I couldn’t eat the group protein. The good stuff–chemical free from healthy birds–is so pricey, though, that I can’t imagine it as a staple for ordinary camping or school. Enter Excalibur! I’m totally imagining homemade, chemical-free turkey jerky. Dried blueberries? Yes, as soon as our baby bushes produce a little extra. Dried apples? Of course. Peppers ready for camping recipes? Oh, I can’t wait to try it.
I haven’t even got my Excalibur all of the way out of the box yet, but I promise to report on it as soon as I use it. Meanwhile, do you have a dehydrator? If so, for what do you use it? And have you made jerky?
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.