Thursday, June 8, 2017
How to prepare farm produce for dehydrator.
How to prepare farm produce for dehydrator. A flat sunny spot in which to set up your dehydrator. The longer the sun hits it each day the better, so position it where trees and buildings won’t cast a shadow. Ideally, locate the dehydrator on a deck, patio, driveway, or other hard surface that absorbs the heat of the sun during the day and retains a bit of warmth overnight. If that’s not an option, place it on bare earth or close cropped grass. You don’t want it sitting amid lush vegetation that becomes covered with dew at night, creating a moist environment around the dehydrator. The quality of dehydrated food is only as good as the produce you start with, so don’t bother drying anything that is overripe, under-ripe, or otherwise unappealing in its fresh form. Before placing it in the dehydrator, prepare the produce as if you were going to eat it—wash off the dirt; remove bruised spots, pits, and seeds; cut off tops and other inedible portions; and peel anything you would want to eat peeled. Then slice the food to a thickness between one-eighth and three-eighths of an inch, depending on your preference and what is most practical with each type of produce. The thinner the slices, the faster they will dry. Some fruits may be dried whole, such as blueberries, figs, and pitted cherries and apricots. Herbs should be plucked from the stem before drying. Fruit and vegetables may be blanched for several minutes in boiling water or a steamer after slicing, which some sources say results in a superior product (brighter color, better flavor, quicker reconstitution, lower spoilage rate, etc). The idea’s that blanching halts enzymatic activity inside the food, thus keeping it fresher. Blanching is highly recommended for some types of food preservation, especially freezing, though most home and dehydrators consider it an optional step. At the very least, it’s wise to disinfect knives, cutting services, and containers with white vinegar as a basic sanitation measure before processing produce for dehydration, allowing them to air dry. If using non-organic store-bought produce, you may also wish to rinse your produce with a fruit and vegetable wash to remove pesticides and wax coatings. Prepare the produce early in the morning so it can be placed immediately in the dehydrator to allow for a full day in the sun. Even on cloudy days the dehydrator will get hot enough to be effective, but avoid using it on rainy days. more