Harvest Series: Dehydrating Food

Dehydrated foods are an essential part of emergency survival gear. They are also a very useful item to have in your everyday pantry. Canning, smoking and other preservation techniques are useful as well, but dehydrating food creates a food item that does not take up much storage space at all and can be eaten dried or reconstituted easily for recipes.During the harvest season we can find a surplus of local fresh and tasty vegetables and fruit from our gardens or local markets at a lower cost than any other time of the year. Dehydrating these items for storage and for emergency survival gear will help to save money on these items by purchasing and dehydrating them when they are at a low cost. The freshness of seasonal items will also be noticed when you eat them later.Dehydrating is a time tested, traditional preservation technique. Centuries ago, people would use this technique with the heat of the sun. We have the ability to use ovens on a low heat setting and dehydrators. Both methods have their pros and cons. Ovens can be set at a specific holding temperature, while most basic dehydrators do not feature a thermometer. But, heating an oven can be more of an energy drain than heating a small dehydrator appliance. There are dehydrators that feature thermometers and temperature settings, but they are pricier than the common models. A candy thermometer can also be placed inside the dehydrator to display the temperature. There are so many different types of items that can be dehydrated from candy leather to crispy, seasoned onions, to banana chips. My favorite item to dehydrate is zucchini chips. I like to find thick zucchini and dehydrate it with a tiny bit of Italian seasoning. (Seasoning becomes at least twice stronger in flavor when dehydrated) I use this in place of lasagna noodles in veggie lasagna throughout the winter and spring. I also keep an extra tub of these in my emergency preparedness gear. Do you prefer to dehydrate with an oven or a dehydrator appliance? What is your favorite food item to dehydrate and why?

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