Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Monday, August 2, 2010

Preserving The Harvest

                                Dried Eggplant

When my kids were little my parents bought us a Ronco Food dehydrator..... Ronco FD1005WHGEN 5-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator . It was very useful at the time for the tasks I wanted to accomplish. The kids of course always begged me to make fruit rollups. I can remember making two basic flavors...blended fresh strawberries mixed with sugarfree applesauce and their other favorite was blended peaches in season mixed with sugarfree applesauce. I would also dry apple and orange slices for decorating grapevine wreaths.Sometimes I would make beef jerky. The Ronco dryer had no temperature control and there was no fan to circulate the warm air so I had to rotate the trays to enable the food to dry evenly.

The kids have since grown up and moved away. With my extra time, I increased the size of my vegetable garden and I also planted an herb garden. A neighbor friend who is an herbalist has been teaching me how to harvest the herbs, dry them and how to make teas and tinctures. She dries most of her herbs by hanging them but I find that too risky in our humid climate and prefer the quaranteed results of a food dehydrator. I decided I needed a larger more efficient dehydrator so I researched a bit and decided on the Garden Master Food Dehydrator w / Optional Trays & Clean-A-Screen


  I can honestly say that I am not at all disappointed in my choice. This is my second year using this dehydrator and I love it. It's much easier to clean, you can have up to 30 trays and because this unit has a fan to circulate the air, there is no rotating of trays. So far I only seem to need 10 trays for my drying needs.

At this point I am mostly drying herbs to use for teas, infusions and cooking...but the other day I dried some of my overflowing crop of eggplants (picture above). I figure that during the fall and winter I can use these dried eggplant slices in stews, soups and casseroles. The other great thing I love about the Nesco food dehydrator is that it has a temperature adjustment. This is especially important to me for drying herbs due to the fact that they need to be dried at lower temperatures than other foods.


The only negative aspect that I found is that the fan makes some noise. It's not obnoxious but I do find that I don't necessarily want it running in the same room where I am relaxing. So....in the daytime I run the dryer in one of our bedrooms and that solves the problem.



There are so many uses for a dehydrator...especially if you have a garden or enjoy buying local organic produce. Once the food is dry, there is no need for electricity to store it. I am trying to weigh the benefits of drying vs freezing with all of the different foods. Some foods are of better quality when frozen. Some foods freeze well ...like parsley...and take up so little room that I prefer to freeze it rather than dry it. I bought a book last year.......
The Dehydrator Bible: Includes over 400 Recipes and it has been very helpful...with a section on how to dry specific foods and then plenty of recipes which show you how to use the foods once dried. There is a hopeful trend where people are beginning to realize the need to go back to growing and preserving their own food. This way we have total control over its quality and of course its also less expensive. People in America spend so much time and energy on growing and maintaining lawns. When you think about it.....how much more worthwhile would it be to grow food? See the video in the sidebar entitled Homegrown Revolution...very inspiring!

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