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There are tactics for food preservation beyond canning and pickling. With garden season approaching, I was excited to try out this nifty appliance.
At first I was surprised when a very large, heavy box appeared on my doorstep, but I was immediately impressed by the looks of this machine. Measuring about 14 inches high and 17 inches wide, it has digital timer and temperature gauges and easy-to-read controls. It also comes equipped with various well-made (BPA free) trays to accommodate any type of food. My favorite was an ingenious flat tray for making crackers and fruit leather.
The concept is fairly simple: The machine circulates warm air throughout the chamber to evaporate the liquid out of foods. The drying process concentrates the flavor, changes the texture and of course helps increase shelf life. The best part is, there’s none of the preservatives or sweeteners that you might find in commercial varieties of dehydrated food.
For testing, I decided to use fresh fruit and herbs from my garden. For fruit it was apples, pears, mango and bananas. The final product was delicious – sweet with just enough chew. A big hit with the kids! The machine is also fairly quiet – a big plus.
For herbs it was perennial favorites – sage, rosemary and lavender. Once dried, leave whole or grind into powder; store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. My dried lavender leaves went straight into a homemade Herb de Provence mixture.
The downsides: It did require a bit of troubleshooting to figure out the best thickness to cut all the fruit – the first time it was too thick, the second time too thin. Finally, the third time was just right. I recommend taking notes of thickness and cooking times you like to make things easier the next time around. The unit we tried retails for about $399.00 – possibly too large an investment unless you’re really serious about drying foods.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
• Try making “raw” tortillas and crackers from sprouted grains, flax seeds, nuts and seasonings (the Sedona manual includes some fun recipes).
• Toss fruits or veggies in spices, dried herbs, honey, sugar, citrus juice, olive oil or soy sauce prior to drying to enhance flavors.
• Dry peas for later use in soups.
• Dip apples, pears and bananas in lemon juice first to prevent browning.
• Dried tomatoes are a fabulous way to hold on to the flavors of summer.
• Dry berries for cereal and trail mix.
Tell Us: Have you tried drying food at home?
The recent Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in Houston showcased an array of good-for-you foods that are new to the market. Here are six worth checking out.