The food dehydrator is a great tool for preparing preserved foods for later use. These foods do not have to be refrigerated, and they can be stored in air-tight containers or bags for weeks if the seal is not broken. One thing to remember with all of these foods is the fact that they lose a significant amount of volume through the dehydration process so plan accordingly.
Possibly the most popular dehydrated food is jerky. With a dehydrator, you can custom make jerky in almost an infinite amount of different combinations. The key ingredient in any good jerky is, of course, the meat and quality counts when making excellent jerky. The meat can come from a variety of sources including beef, chicken, elk, deer, and buffalo. It is extremely important to focus on the very lean cuts of meat. Fatty meat will quickly turn the jerky rancid.
Another thing to look for is very fresh meat that is dark red and devoid of any odor. Probably the most popular cut to make beef jerky is London Broil. The other key ingredient in excellent jerky that also can be used with some fruits as well is the use of marinades. In addition to providing flavoring, a good marinade will help denature the proteins of the meat. This makes the jerky more tender.
Another popular food is dehydrated apple slices. It is important to note that fruit becomes very sticky during the dehydration process so using a dehydration screen is recommended. Fruit can be dehydrated with or without additional flavorings. The dehydrated apples are usually treated with either lemon juice or an ascorbic acid mixture prior to dehydration to prevent the apples from browning. They can also be sprinkled with cinnamon or other tasty flavorings before dehydrating.
The third excellent food is fruit leathers. Fruit leathers usually require a special tray to make that fits in the dehydrator. These are important so you don’t ruin the dehydrator. They can be a fun healthy alternative to the commercially produced version. Simply puree whole fruit without the seeds, and dehydrate. If needed, one could add honey to sweeten the mixture.
Dehydrating is fun, and it can produce some excellent food for long term storage. These are just three of the basics things that can be made. These components can be integrated with other items to make trail mixes and such. After the basics are mastered, experimentation with other tasty dehydrator recipes will produce some tasty treats.