|Home||Parties||Educational Index||Science Index||Kidstuff||Crafts||Camping||Feeling Sour?||Writing||Me|
|Camping Home Page||Feeding the Masses||Location, location, location!||Games and Activities||Hiking tips||Equipment Tips||Canoe Trips||Backpacking||Car Camping|
|At the Grocery Store||Dehydrator Recipes||GORP||Cooler Camping||Desserts and other Treats||Beverages||Campfire Cooking|
You can use a commercial dehydrator, an oven at its lowest setting, or a solar dehydrator to dry your food.
If you use a commercial dehydrator, try and avoid those with entirely plastic construction. One we had given to us melted its own trays, even when unplugging it for 15 minutes every half hour (which was a hugely annoying task!). The food was spoiled by the smell and taste of the melted plastic and accompanying fumes.
Oven drying works well, but be sure to set your oven at 125 degrees Farenheit, even for recipes that call for warmer drying temperatures. Oven temperatures vary and fluctuate during heating, and the thermostats in them are not as finely tuned as they could be, so any hotter an oven could end up too hot.
Having said that, dehydrating in a convection oven works very well when the oven is set to 150 degrees Farenheit. The fan in the oven distributes the heat evenly so you can dry several trays of food at once with no browning or under-dried spots. This is our preferred method of dehydrating food.
Solar dehydrators are weather dependant. They work well under ideal weather conditions. You may need to supplement this with oven drying though if the weather changes or if the items aren't dry by sunset. Drying food should be continuously dried until done to avoid potential food spoilage.
Always cool your dried food completely before storing to avoid gaining moisture through condensation. We even cool it on the trays in the refrigerator for an extra 20 minutes just to be safe. Since we are not experts at drying, we dry our food only a couple of weeks before it will be consumed, and store it in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator before we pack it for our trips.
For drying leathers and sauces, you can use parchment paper, microwave-safe plastic wrap or re-usable silicone sheets to line a regular baking sheet or tray, or use a commercial drying sheet sold along with commercial dehydrators. We prefer the silicone as it is reusable, is not an animal product, is not carcinogenic (and is unlikely to be found to be so in the future), and most of all, because it works.
Teriyaki Tofu Crackers
Use extra firm tofu for this recipe. Slice the tofu into thin (1/2 cm) strips. Marinade in your favourite teriyaki sauce (we like Kikoman), for 15-30 minutes, turning to be sure each side is well basted. Lay out on dehydrator trays or food-grade screens and dehydrate at about 55-60 degrees Celcius, or ~140 degrees Farenheit. Turn over every three hours or so. When it is done, the crackers will have lost their flexiblity and become strong and brittle. These can be crumbled and rehydrated into stir-fries or rice dishes, or eat them dry as snacking crackers.
We have had luck in drying fresh berries. Simply wash, trim the tops if necessary, pat dry and dehydrate on trays (best with finer mesh trays as they do shrink quite a bit when dried). Pre-frozen fruit takes longer to dry. Frozen mango chunks dried well; frozen whole strawberries were less of a success.
Home-dried pineapple turned out chewier and stringier than we liked.
Sliced apples and whole apricots will look darker when dried than the sulphured commercial ones.
You can also dry canned fruit--try drying drained fruit cocktail for some candied dry fruit snacks, or peaches canned in juice, which are very nice in bannock or just on their own.
Applesauce spread on sheets and dried makes a great, easy fruit leather. Puree any other fruit or soft-cooked veggie with applesauce it to create your own flavours. Mashed sweet potato or yams are especially delicious, as are bananas and mashed strawberries. Or try our favourite: Puree 1 large carrot with 1 1/2 cups of applesauce and two generous tablespoons of strawberry fruit-first spread (as made by PC Blue Menu or E.D. Smith). Spread to about 1/2 cm or 1/4" thick on a silicone-lined baking sheet and dry at 150 degrees farenheit for 6-8 hours. Let cool, then roll and store in an airtight container.
Most vegetables will need blanching before drying. You can also just cook them (don't overcook them) then start drying them immediately. Commercially frozen vegetables do not need blanching.
We have had success in drying frozen peas and corn (just spread it onto trays and dry it), and also in making pumpkin fruit leather (recipe below).
Carrrots can be grated and dried on very find mesh trays or on a silicone baking sheet liner, then reduced to a powder in a blender. This makes a great addition to soups and casseroles.
Mashed potatoes can be spread and dried like a fruit leather. Be sure to turn them over after about 4 hours of drying.
Pumpkin-Pie Fruit Leather
You will need:
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 large can of pumpkin
pumpkin pie spices to taste--best to be generous with the spices in this recipe (suggest: 1 tsp each of cinnamon and powdered ginger and nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. each of allspice and cloves, a pinch of salt)
1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly on a silicone-lined baking sheet and dry for 3-4 hours at 125 F in the oven, remove, turn over the leather with a spatula and continue drying until it is of a grainy fruit leather consistency. For a chewier, more "fruit roll-up" consistency, add more sugar, maple syrup, honey etc. before drying.
Tomato Pasta Sauce
Sometimes if seems that the ever-versatile tomato evolved just for our convenience.
This recipe is quite simple, just prepare your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce. You can even use a commercial brand if you prefer. Spread it evenly over a silicone-lined baking sheet and dry it as is.
To speed up drying time and add a little extra flavour, add ground tomato powder, sun-dried tomatoes or 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste into the sauce before spreading it.
Be sure to turn it over after 3-4 hours of drying time.