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That time of year

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by ammon, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. ammon

    ammon Monkey+

    Blog: Preperation and survival

    It has turned into the time of year when I like to dehydrate stuff, which is unfortunate in a way. I do most of my dehydrating in the winter, mostly because it is dry. I live in Florida, and trying to dehydrate in the summer time with 70-80% relative humidity is just depressing. But with the good comes the bad, I hate the cold, and just this week we set a local record for how cold it was this early in the season.

    On the plus side, a dehydrator running all day is a great thing to have in your bedroom or office to keep the inside temps up a bit.

    Anyway, dehydrating is a great was of preserving food.

    A few of the pluses are as follows.

    • Cheap
    • Not labor intensive
    • Preserves the highest amount of flavor and vitamins in certain foods
    • Reduces overall size of food, and therefore reduces space requirements
    • Reduces weight of food, so if you like to hike, or have a bug out bag, this is great
    • Doubles up as a space heater for your room

    I personally like to hike, as well as keep an emergency bag, that I can grab and leave with, to keep me alive for a few days, these are often called BOB(bug out bag), GOOD(get out of dodge), GHB(get home bag) etc. It is always recommended to keep some food in these bags. In such an instance, space and weight are both things you have a very limited supply of.

    Anyway onto the how to.

    You can follow how I did it or you can follow the suggested way. The suggested way are the steps in blue, but these steps will not follow the pictures. The pictures will guide you through the way I did this, and it is not the fastest way.

    Step 1: Slice tomatoes like you would a peach or nectarine.
    Step 1: Get a pot of water boiling, as well as a big bowl of ice water chilling.

    Step 2: With your knife, slice the skin off the tomatoes, skin is not something you want on your finished product.
    Step 2: When water is boiling, dunk the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1.5 minutes. Take them out and soak them in the ice water to cool them.

    Step 3: Remove all skins.
    Step 3: peel skins which will be extremely easy, as they will just about fall off. Slice the tomato into manageable sizes.

    Step 4: Line dehydrator trays with the tomatoes. If they tomatoes touch they will stick together but that is not a big deal, since they are going to deform and shrivel up anyway. You just don't want to throw handfuls on the tray, because then they will take longer to dry, and you will be left with a big glob at the end.
    Step 4: Line dehydrator trays with the tomatoes. If they tomatoes touch they will stick together but that is not a big deal, since they are going to deform and shrivel up anyway. You just don't want to throw handfuls on the tray, because then they will take longer to dry, and you will be left with a big glob at the end.

    Step 5: When to take them off?

    Dehydrating is not an exact science, and is actually far from. Depending on the variety of tomatoes, and your dehydrator, and the relative humidity, and the ambient temperature, and the way the stars are aligned, it is nearly impossible to tell you how long the process will take. I have had tomatoes finish in 9 hours, and I have had them finish in 15 hours.

    Do not get paranoid about it, this is a fail proof method of preserving food.

    You want them to be dry enough to snap apart, not bend, not droop, you are looking for a crisp "Snap" when you break it. It should also click when dropped on a table or counter top.

    It is nearly impossible to dry these too much. The dryer the better, and the only real drawback from leaving these on the dehydrator for too long is, the extra consumed electricity.

    Step 6: I bottle them up, or put them in a mason jar, or zip lock, however you prefer, for a week. Depending on the size of the piece of tomato, where it was located on the drying rack, and an infinite amount of other factors, some pices will be more dry and some will be less dry. I like to achieve a uniform dryness, before storing them. After leaving them in an air tight container for a week, they will all even out. After a week or 10 days, I stick them back on the dehydrator for 30 minutes to an hour, and then store them for good.

    To store dehydrated food, it is imperative you keep it away from heat and humidity. This means storing them in an air tight container, in a location other then the cupboard above your over and stove. Although pretty, it is not suggested to keep these as decor for your fireplace mantle either, for the same reason.

    I personally keep the majority of my dehydrated goods in mason jars. The exception is with things like potato, carrots, apples, and other things that I have HUGE amounts of. In these cases, I get 1 gallon sized Mylar bags, a small oxygen absorber, and a 1 gallon bucket from my local bakery. They usually have frosting in these and throw them out after use. You can fill the Mylar bag, insert the absorber and seal the Mylar shut with either an impulse sealer or a normal house hold iron.

  2. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    Thanks Ammon; very helpful post. I myself do my own ground meat jerky,(easier to chew), I have done a few "fruit Roll ups" which turned out ok, at least my grandson likes them, not sweet enough for my girls. I have not tried the tomatoes though, of which now I think i will try some herbed roma tomatoes in a few days, In the process of doing jerky now. I will let you know how it turns out.
  3. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Now I have to bust out the ol' dehydrator rig for the oven and get crackin'!
  4. BadgeBunny

    BadgeBunny Monkey++

    Santa is bringing me a dehydrator (Excalibur) for Christmas! I can hardly wait ... even have my 1/2 gal Mason jars already set up and labeled (Yeah, I know ... can you say O.C.D. LOL).

    Was talking to some friends from out of town the other night and he was telling me about a dehydrator he built out of plywood, oven racks and one of those exhaust fans (one with a heat feature) that are used in bathrooms.

    The box was built with scrap wood, he picked up the oven racks from thrift stores here and there, and the exhaust fan was on clearance at Home Depot for $10 bucks. Said it worked great for drying venison jerky ... the pics on his cell phone were pretty cool ... man, that thing was huge!!
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