It was a wonderful holiday season and it’s now time to head back to a more normal life (and diet). Last night was the pinnacle and an annual tradition – leftover gourmet cheese becomes a killer macaroni and cheese the night before the return to work. A touch of black truffle oil finished the panko-crusted bowl of cheese and pasta. We also made a roasted vegetable soup to start the journey to normalcy…
Santa did show up at the Well Preserved house this year. Dana treated me to a 9-tray industrial food dehydrator (an Excalibur 3900). She claims it was the ugliest gift she has ever purchased – which is a tough go for a designer! She had driven to the US and across this city to do her research and came home with an awesome unit – and the start of a new journey for preserving with us.
I have been dreaming about dehydrating for a long time – am excited to start another journey towards more preserving – of course we will maintain our canning as well. Dehydrating offers some exciting potentials for me – including the option to eat more local food more often, preserve some different things and take my cooking to the next level. The lack of adding skids of sugar from afar is something that appeals to my bloated
It is not about simply eating “dry, brittle food” ( a friend ame up with that one and I laughed until I peed a little).
I also want to take dehydrating to places it has rarely risen to – including fine cooking. Dehydrated foods can be re-hydrated – to bring back or alter their flavor. What would a dehydrated blueberry taste like when it is rehydrated in maple syrup? What would happen if you make tea of dehydrated blueberries in maple syrup to alter it’s flavor? Duck jerky could be rehydrated in Grand Marnier and then turned to a confit to make Duck a L’Orange.
Here’s some of the ideas I want to play with and expand on in the coming year:
- Dehydrated strawberry leaves to make strawberry tea in the winter. dehydrated lemon rind would be a fun match with this.
- Dried tomato leaves to add to sauce through the winter to increase the smell and flavor (tomato leaves were previously believed to be poisonous but this has been proven inaccurate in recent years – they do, however, contain the majority of the smell of the tomato).
- Dry beans and peas for use through the winter – affordably, locally and from farmers we know.
- Dry our own herbs. It’s been a pet peeve that food personalities claim you should never keep dried herbs for more than 6 months but no one seems to notice that the dried herbs on our shelves could have been in a warehouse for 2 years.
- Create non-traditional food ingredients for later use. We experimented with store-bought dehydrated mushrooms on the holidays, I ground them to a powder that was awesome to throw into a vegetable soup to add flavor and reduce excess liquid.
- Moose or deer jerky.
- Cottage cheese. Why? Why not.
- Dried fruit and veg that can be used later through the year – including slow roasted tomatoes.
- Fruit roll-ups. Lunch time snacking that remind me of my youth – and we control the ingredients.
We’ll share our journey as we experiment and would love any tips or experiences from those of you out there who have tried!