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More tips on drying food

Do you/your kids like fruit leather? That's another thing you can dry at home. I always like to offer the cheapo version first-I've had to 'make do' for many years and figure we may have more 'make do' years ahead of us, so here goes:

Fruit Leather

I've made fruit leather for many years by using the inside dash of my car as an dehydrator. First, line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap; be sure to tape it down securely so that the wrap doesn't fly up on the fruit. Puree any fruit in the blender (you're looking for a puree which is the consistency of apple sauce) and pour the puree onto the lined cookie sheet. Two cups of puree will give you a layer about 1/4 inch thick. (Suggestions for fruit/fruit combinations: peaches, peach/banana, applesauce/strawberries, watermelon/applesauce, strawberry/banana. apricot, plum. Remember, the key is *the consistency of applesauce*. Add Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to any light colored fruits to help prevent so much browning.)

Then I put the cookie sheet on the back dash of my car-windows rolled up tight on a nice, hot day. Drying time depends on the temperature outside, the humidity, and how long the sun is out. If the leather doesn't dry in one day, just bring it in the house and set it outside the next day as well. To test for 'doneness', touch it with a clean finger. The leather should feel leather-like and pliable. There shouldn't be any sticky spots.

Remove the leather from the cookie sheet while it is still warm. Roll it up (with the plastic wrap still on it). At this point, I cut the leather into 1 inch pieces-I end up with several rolls of fruit leather which are 1 inch wide.

The process for using a dehydrator is the same: cover the trays with plastic wrap, puree the fruit, cover the trays with puree, and dehydrate.

Storage for fruit leather (if it survives the kids, that is) is the same for any dried produce: freeze for 2 days, bring to room temperature and keep in a cool, dark, dry place.

Vegetable Flakes & Powders

Use your blender to chop dried vegetables into flakes or a fine powder. Use as a soup base or seasoning for salads and other dishes.

Storage life and nutritional value of powdered or flaked vegetables is much less than that of sliced or whole dried vegetables, so do not chop or powder more veggies than you will use within 1 month. Veggies may be flaked or powdered separately or several vegetables may be blended together to make mixed flakes or powder.

Dried vegetables should be very dry and crisp before chopping. Be sure the blender is completely dry. If any moisture is present, the veggies will clump instead of becoming powder or flakes.

Process about 1/2 to 1 cup of dried vegetable pieces at one time.

Store in airtight containers with as little air as possible.

Equivalent measurements for most vegetables: 1 T vegetable powder or 1-1/2 T vegetable flakes or 2 T dried pieces =4 T chopped fresh vegetables.

More to come later. Linda

-- newbiebutnodummy (, July 08, 1999


Thanks Linda! I'm just now trying drying things for the first time. I bought a "hang-up" dehydrator that has 5 shelves(removable) and it's covered with a zip up screening. I'm trying chopped onions now- but with all the humidity it seems to be taking too long. Cucumber chips and cantaloupe pieces are next!

-- jeanne (, July 09, 1999.

Jeanne-Instead of chopping onions, I just cut them in slices and lay the slices out on my trays. After they dry, you can break them into smaller pieces if you want. (The last batch of dried onions smelled so good that I tried one-tasted like onion rings! --and without all the grease!)

Good job-Linda

-- newbiebutnodummy (, July 10, 1999.

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