Dehydration Fundamentals: Give Me Your Best Tip to Dehydrate _________.

We don’t really get this as a question that often – but we should.  For there is only one answer and knowing it will change your relationship with drying food:

Buy a mandoline.

I have a $20 hand slicer (the OXO Good Grips) that has 3 width adjustments.  There is no replacement for this tool when it comes to drying food.

Consider that a slice of apple may go in to the dehydrator at 3mm (approximately 1/8th of an inch) thick.  If the piece beside it is 4 mm (1/6th of an inch), it could take up to 33% longer to dehydrate.  Unless your knife skills are accurate to a smaller margin than 1/25th of an inch, a mandoline is a giant time saver.

A mandoline starts saving you time because of the speed which you can accurately slice – but that’s just the beginning!  Once your product is drying in the dehydrator, things dry evenly which takes away the need to constantly check each and every piece for doneness through the process.  A quick visual scan will confirm that a tray is drying consistently and you won’t need to pull out each tray and remove individual pieces as they complete.  This is a massive deal if you have a larger unit (our has 9 trays and more than 20 square feet to dehydrate with).

When using a mandoline, it’s essential to use extreme care.  I’ve cut myself with them 3 times (all in the first 3 months of using one and only once when not using the guide) and each time was very painful.  These tools, like chainsaws and nailguns, can save you a great deal of time but require unyielding focus and care to harness their power safely.

It takes some time to get comfortable with using this tool.  I am amazed at how often I find myself using it (several times a day) and how much work it’s taken away from my use of knives in the kitchen.  I could not dehydrate the amount of food we do without one.

What’s your essential tip for dehydrating to share with others?

This is part of a series of posts dedicated to the fundamentals of dehydrating and sharing tips that will ensure success as well as traps to avoid.  Make sure to check out the comments as they add to the discussion.  Additional information can be found through some of our posts on dehydrating or in our Facebook Group where a vibrant community with plenty of discussion can often be found!

Comments

  1. Michelle Cusick says:

    My Number One Tip for Dehydrating: Never tell anyone that you’re doing pears. They’re just too good to give away……even to your husband!

    But seriously, lemon juice to coat the pears and apples before you dry. They’ll keep their color and not turn brown.

  2. Michelle Cusick says:

    Another good tip for watermelon: slice and let sit in a colander in the fridge (covered) for a day to let a lot of the water to drain. Cuts down on your drying time.

  3. Be prepared to allow extra time on rainy or high humidity days. The ambient humidity does factor into drying time even with heated units. My first dehydrator, many years ago and long gone, was just a fan in the base and while it did the job, it was terribly unpredictable on very humid or rainy days. Now that I have a modern one that has a heater in the top, I find the bottom trays don’t dry as fast depending on the weather, but it’s much less sensitive.

  4. Invest in tray liners – not all dehydrators have then – this makes the food release easily, eliminates sicking and makes clean-up much easier.

  5. Buy the best dehydrator….the excalibur if you can. I got mine – the big one – off of Kijiji several years ago for $150. the guy also tossed in a mandolin that he ..purchased at the same time…bonus. I have had several dryers over the years and I LOVe the EXCALIBUR. The heating element is at the back of the machine so no need for rotating. This one also had a timer which I love. Just set it and leave it.

  6. Mary Ann Slowka says:

    Put your dehydrator outside (deck, garage) when drying foods like garlic or hot peppers. Saves your upholstery & curtains from absorbing the smells.

    • Mary Ann, how do you dry your garlic? I have a bunch of cloves and want to know the best way to slice to dry them? Thanks!

      • Clarissa,

        Know that once it dries it becomes rock hard. I’d shave it thin, blanch it quickly and dry around 130. Then blitz small bits of it in a spice or coffee grinder to use as needed. Let us know how it goes!

        J

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