Wasted Produce or Kitchen Opportunity?

Okay, so it’s happen to the best of us. You buy produce intending to cook all these elaborate dishes and somehow you never get around to using all of the produce. What to do? Of course, just toss the unused spoiled produce into the garbage and envision your cash going into the garbage as well. Well here’s an alternative: Dehydrate portions of your produce. Dehydrators are quite easy. They range from $40 to a couple hundred depending on the size of the machine. I currently use a 5 tray machine, that’s not complicated at all. It’s the easiest thing ever. You just chop your produce, place it on the tray, plug it in, and wait. Dehydrated fruit and veggies can be great for snacks. With dried fruit, you can add this to your cereal or granola mix. With dried veggies, you can make your own chips or even spice mix.

Tips for Dehydrating:

1. Don’t dehydrate if you’re expecting an immediate snack – Dehydration takes some planning as many fruits and vegetables take hours to dehydrate to the appropriate texture. However, this is helpful if you are planning a road trip and need tasty treats for the car ride. I typically set up the dehydrator either early in the day or late at night. This way I can go about my day without having to worry about the machine.

2. I find that most vegetables need to be blanched in water before going on the tray. This helps preserve the color and texture of the vegetable. It also helps kill any bacteria that may be on the produce.

3. If you live in humid areas, your dehydration times might be longer. Use your machine’s manual as a guide. When testing foods, taste from different portions of the tray.

4. Don’t forget to rotate the trays. This gives each tray an “even” dehydration. Otherwise, you’ll be wondering why your bananas on the top tray aren’t as good as the bananas on the bottom tray.

5. Don’t forgot storage containers.Dehydrated food can be preserved and stored much longer than fresh. Pick containers that are air tight for pantry storage.  In addition, certain fruits and vegetables can be re-hydrated for later use in dishes.

6. Remember, it’s a trial and error kitchen experience. So if it doesn’t turn out great the first time, try it again and tweak something. But remember, to always have fun with it.

Let me hear about your dehydration adventures!

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