I have had my dehydrator for several years now. It has been fun to dehydrate many vegetables and fruits. There are many that have been great to use dehydrated, but there are some that I don’t think I will try again. Here is my break down of which ones are which, and why:
Tomatoes – I definitely will dehydrate tomatoes again. Both slices and tomato leather have been easy to use, have added great taste to my cooking, and have stored well. I have dehydrated a few kinds, mostly because of what I happened to have on hand, and plum tomatoes give the most reward for the effort, while cherry tomatoes are too labor intensive.
Carrots – These were great to use dehydrated. The first two years it was easy and all tasted great. Then, last year, I must not have dried them enough, because they molded. Obviously a huge disappointment, but part of the learning curve, I guess. I will try them again.
Green beans – I actually dehydrated purple bush beans, which get almost black when done. I really didn’t expect much from them, but was pleasantly surprised with how easy they were to cook into soups and stews. There was never a hint of tough or dry in those recipes. In fact, to my palate, there was not way to distinguish them from fresh or frozen when the cooking was done. I may even be inclined to try them in others ways next time around, with some pre-soaking of course.
Beets – I have only dehydrated golden beets. It was kind of labor intensive, because I have not come across an easy way to peel beets. However, they were an easy addition to stews throughout the winter. The golden beets did not have any sort of overpowering flavor, so no one even knew they were in there. I will probably try it this year with the red beets I have grown.
Onions – My Pampered Chef chopper was very useful in preparing my onions for dehydrating, but I might try my Chop Wizard next time. Either way, we used up all the dehydrated onions in cooking very quickly! I think I need to do at least twice as many to even get part way through the winter, since we do a lot of cooking from scratch.
Garlic – My dehydrated garlic was another nice surprise. I was a little worried at first that I might have cut it too large, even though I felt I had attacked it with the Pampered Chef chopper, but it always cooked up wonderfully. It was also fairly easy to grind with a mortar and pestle when desired for something like garlic bread.
Zucchini – Dehydrated sliced zucchini rounds with a bit of kosher salt put on them before processing are quite tasty for a snack. I also used them both salted and unsalted in various recipes, including spaghetti sauce.
Basil – Basil was much easier to hang dry that try to prepare for the dehydrator.
Apples – We all loved the dried apples pre-dipped in a slight water-honey solution. The only bad thing was how quickly they were eaten!
Apricots – I am the only one who really liked these dehydrated in halves, but everyone loved them either by themselves or with plums in fruit leather. My biggest challenge with the fruit leather is wrapping and storing it.
Plums – The only way I have ever dehydrated them is in fruit leather. They are a bit watery to do by themselves, but as mentioned above, pair great with apricots.
Cantaloupe – Again, some saltiness made dehydrated cantaloupe really good. They were very popular with almost everyone in the family, but they didn’t seem to store as well as other things, even vacuum sealed. I am still inclined to make them again, though, because they were like candy.
Cherries – Some of the kids were very excited about snacking on dried cherries, but as much as they said they liked them, I kept having to remind them to eat them. Not sure where this will end up…
Peas – These are definitely a big no for me. They ended up like little pebbles that I could never seem to rehydrate adequately.
Cucumbers – I wanted to like dehydrated cucumbers, but could never come up with a way to use them. I finally gave them to the chickens after 3 years.
Broccoli – Broccoli was kind of fun to dehydrate, so I was disappointed when any dehydrated broccoli I tried to cook was leathery-tough. I will continue to freeze any broccoli I want to preserve.
Peppers – Peppers are just too easy to freeze. I dehydrated a few, but no one was ever inspired to use them. I haven’t tossed them yet, but it is looking likely.
You can see from the tally, that it has been mostly successes, and that some of the failures are due to personal preference. There are still some things I haven’t even tried, but whether I get around to it will depend on 1) whether or not I get all my home-grown produce harvested and preserved, and 2) I can find it fresh for an acceptable price.
On top of all that, my dehydrator has been very convenient for making yogurt during the whole year. The book (not booklet, but a real, substantial book) that came with my Excalibur dehydrator has been great for ideas and looking up questions. The other main book I refer to is Preserving Summer’s Bounty. I vacuum seal all of the dehydrated goodies that we aren’t snacking on right away.
If you have any stories or tips about dehydrating, I’d love to hear them!