It started several weeks ago. I was bitten by the dehydrating bug. And by bitten, I really mean I got it in my head that I wanted one. I put the call out to my Facebook friends in the form of a status update asking for opinions on brands. Sadly most of the replies consisted of “Yeah, I used to have one of those, but sold it at a yard sale.” That didn’t help. I knew we couldn’t afford an Excalibur, so I set out to find a comparable one within my budget.
Fast forward to Christmas Day. My hubby surprised me with one. Not the exact one I wanted, but I figured it was good enough for my first attempt at dehydrating. I couldn’t wait to dry something…anything. It didn’t take long for me to figure out what I’d try first.
My family is fortunate enough to have a freezer full of beef courtesy of my wonderful father, who raises cattle and butchers two to be split between my parents, my sister and my family every year. I found two packs of flank steaks I thought would be perfect.
I’ll admit, I was nervous as could be. I have never dehydrated anything in my life, nor did my mother when I was growing up. I purchased two great books for reference and that was the extent of my knowledge.
I mixed the jerky marinade that came with the dehydrator, which smelled heavenly. After slicing the steaks, I placed them in a Ziploc bag with the marinade and placed it in the fridge for a few hours. I was too excited to let it marinate any longer.
I placed the meat into the dehydrator and turned it on…really, it was that easy. I checked it periodically, afraid it would shrivel up and I’d be left with nothing! But lo and behold, after 10 hours I had beautiful beef jerky. I had fully expected my first try at this to be a huge disaster, so I wasn’t prepared for such beautiful, tasty jerky.
So tasty in fact, I’ve had to hide it from the family. They can’t get enough of it. My next attempt…fruit leathers. I hope those turn out just as good!
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Dehydrating is addictive. My husband jokes that if he stands still too long, he’ll end up in the dehydrator!
Frozen veggies are one of my favorite things to dry. Just open the bag, dump and dry. I love having them on hand for soups and stews.
Keep us posted on your drying adventures. I look forward to reading more.
On January 3, 2012 at 7:00 am
Do check out http://www.dehydrate2store.com …she’s got some great videos on how to dehydrate almost everything! My kids love the fruit rolls… I stick all of their half-eaten apples and over-ripe fruit into a bag and freeze. When I have a couple of full bags, it’s time to make fruit rolls!
On January 3, 2012 at 7:22 am
Now you are making me want a dehydrator! I am torn between that and a grain mill.
My Sis makes delicious jerky that she gives for Christmas. I think she uses a whole brisket.
On January 3, 2012 at 9:32 am
I’m a dehydrator junkie and have been using an American Harvest/NESCO FD-60 SnackMaster for years and years, now with 10 rather yellowed trays. Hardly a day goes by when it is not operating.
I love doing diced onions, celery, sliced elephant garlic, mushrooms, bell & hot peppers, kale & other greens, tomatoes, and just about everything else.
I limit making jerky because it disappears almost immediately.
On January 3, 2012 at 11:14 am
Dehydrating is truly addictive. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and save lots of money. I bought 25 pounds of yams at Thanksgiving and dehydrated them. They are now in a gallon jar and we had them the first time a couple of weeks ago. Even the picky eater grandson ate them. Someone brought apples in at Christmas time to my husbands work and no one ate them so he brought home 20 huge Delicious Apples and I made cinnamon apple chips. Lemons and limes are on sale now so I got a bag of lemons, sliced them, dehydrated them and use in my ice tea that I drink year round. I could go on forever but I’ll stop. Have fun and be creative.
On January 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm
The easiest and best dehydrated item is simply banana slices. Slice them up when they are ripe (I use one of those serrated tomato slicers to make many slices at once), then layer them on your trays. Eighteen hours later, you have nice chewy sweet banana slices that are nothing like those crunchy tasteless things that you buy in the store!
On January 5, 2012 at 11:58 am