This week’s contest winner is Noelle from SingersKitchen.com!
I have written a couple of posts on dehydration but it is always good to post a little dehydration information refresher. So…here are my top hints and suggestions about dehydrating food.
1. Temperature – You will notice that in many of the recipes, I start at a higher temperature (normally 145 degrees) and then after a period of time, usually 1/2 to 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 115. Yes, this is still raw, and no you are not compromising the nutrients. The thing to remember here is that the FOOD temperature never goes above 115. In the beginning of dehydration, the food is busy kicking off moisture and stays quite cool. Starting at a higher temperature helps the food to do this more efficiently and reduces dehydration time. It also helps prevent potential fermentation and turning your dehydrator into a petri dish. Important: you must remember to turn the dehydrator down after the initial time period or you will essentially cook your food, and destroy the nutrients. I always set a kitchen timer so I don’t forget.
2. Time – Keep in mind that dehydration times are suggested times. There are many things that will influence how fast your dehydrator finishes the food. Humidity, air temp, the type of unit you have, the ingredients you use. There are certain foods that should be dehydrated until very dry, other things that you will want a little moisture still in them (ie the oatmeal cookies). I have also noticed that if you leave raw food recipes that are made with coconut oil or butter in the dehydrator too long, you can get a soapy taste. Best bet? Check your food periodically.
3. Sweet vs Savory – I never dehydrate sweet and savory at the same time. The savory can completely infuse your sweet creations with the wonderful taste and aroma of garlic and onions or the spices that you have used. While I love garlic and onions, I don’t like them in my cookies!
4. Being Economical – I remember reading an article once on a raw food site that stated dehydrating was much more economical than using an oven. A little red flag went up for me. You are using a much lower temperature but you are doing it for hours vs minutes. I actually researched the energy units used and there wasn’t a huge difference. But you can use your dehydrator economically. Plan on doing a few recipes at a time, so it is always full. If you dehydrate your almond pulp for almond flour, freeze it and then throw a few trays in any time you have extra space. Think in terms of having your dehydrator full when used. It only takes a little advanced planning. I even plan to spout in the winter when the dehydrator will be running so the sprouts, sitting by the dehydrator, will enjoy the warmth.