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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drying Foods

Drying food is fairly easy. I wrote about drying garlic here. I have tried to dry nearly everything, and found very little that did not turn out. You do not need fancy equipment to dry foods, although a dehydrator is a nice thing to have. A friend gave me hers as she never uses it, and I bought extra drying racks at a thrift store for 30 cents.

As a person trying to live a simple life(which has made me a prepper:), I save all containers that foods come from. I have a variety of plastic and glass jars to then re-use for my dried foods.

A key point to remember in drying foods is that if the food item browns in the air, you need to soak it(after you slice it) in a bowl of 3 parts water 1 part citrus juice. You can use the store bought items that will retain color, but I have used lime juice for a few years and it has worked wonderful.

These are dried onions. On the right I made a minced onion, and the left, the rings. I use the dehydrator for the rings because they will not fall through the slits on the drying trays. For the minced onions, I use plastic lids, then place them in pocket sleeve that I made(think pillowcase). I have read people using their roof to place items to dry on. I just sit the plastic lids on a bench in front of a window. Now I live in New Mexico, and it is almost always sunny. So other ideas to dry foods are using cookie sheets and use the oven at low heat overnight. If you are not drying onions(because of aroma) you can dry foods on the dashboard of your car. It takes little time using a vehicle as the car heats up rather quickly.

Here are orange slices that I recently dried. You can toss this in a tea drink, orange juice, or like my children just suck on them. They are a wonderful energy boost.

{Sorry about the photo quality}
This is Swiss Chard that I dried. It takes very much like seaweed and is a yummy crunchy snack. I think that I am going to start using this where I use a bay leaf to see how it will taste. Remember dark green vegetables are EXTREMELY healthy for you, yet in the winter, if you grow your own foods, you may lack things like chard-well no more. Just dry some for your family!

This is a jar of dried apple slices. You would pre-soak the slices in the citrus solution to stop the browning. I make a granola breakfast cereal that some of the kids toss apple slices on it. I prefer to grab a handful each morning to start my day. You will never regret drying apples!

Once again the photo quality is a bit off, but this is a photo of dried strawberries. Boy I cannot describe how wonderful a snack is that is made of dried strawberries. You can use this for breakfast foods, add it to a jello, or even ice cream or shakes.

If you do not have a garden, no problem*. The grocery has weekly sales. Buy a large amount of the item of the week and dry some food for your pantry today. (or can it). Learning how to preserve and store foods can make a difference in you and your family's very livelihood, and if I can dry foods so can you!
(c) Double Nickel Farm

cross posted at Alberta Preppers
* I strongly urge you to begin growing some foods for you and your family.


Marie said...

I have been thinking about purchasing a dehydrator, which I assume would have specific directions on how long to leave items in so that they were safe to eat. When you use the oven, how do you know that you have left them in long enough? I know dried and shriveled and dehydrated looking is a good clue, but I worry about food safety and not doing it correctly...

In any case, this was interesting because you wrote about some things I would never have thought of dehydrating, like the swiss chard. Great post--thanks for the info and ideas!

Humble wife said...

Marie- I used to worry that I was not doing things correctly...then I tossed the fears aside, as generations of people prepared foods to get them through the winter and they didn't need manuals and nonsense to assist them.

For onions I can tell by feeling them. I try and test to see if they are well, very dry to the touch and that is my measure. For apples and bananas I just snack on one. In fact who am I kidding? I sample everything I dry to *know* if they are done.

Food safety is critical. I believe the the key is a good jar to store the item in. If you see mold, or smell a funny smell...then back to my mantra "when in doubt, throw it out". Oh and keep the dried foods in a dark closet not exposed to variable temps, and they will last a good long time.

soldierman57 said...

great post jen.
did you get my email i sent to you?

thank you for all your post


Humble wife said...

hmm, Soldierman, I must confess I havent checked my email in several days. I have four blogs that have comment moderation that feed into that email. Perhaps you could call...Ernie has my cell #, just leave me a comment with your prefix so I will answer the call(or use Ernies #)!
(Forgive me for lagging, my oldest is home from AIT and I have been enjoying the time together. He leaves for his first duty station Tuesday...) But tomorrow the gang is heading off and I will be home :)

erniesjourney said...

good post jen - yes, we need to be drying more - now i feel guilty!!LOL!

erniesjourney said...

Egads Jen - u know I HATE onions LOL and those look like tapeworms LMAO!! :)

Humble wife said...

Ernie-lol---Come on over for dinner and I will serve up Tapeworm~~~~~

by the way I still love the onions and munch on the dry ones all the time...tapeworms not!!

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