Dehydrating Listener Questions 2

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Thanks for joining us today. There were a ton of dehydrating questions that I couldn’t get to in episode 13 Dehydrating Listener Questions so today I’m answering more of your questions.

Note: with some of these questions I go into greater detail on the show but these show notes will answer the questions if you’re reading this in a place where you might not be able to watch a video.

From Laurel: How do you re-hydrate raspberries?

If you’re placing them in baked goods you can add a little more water to the recipe. If you’re making a dessert sauce or something along those lines you can pour some warm water on them and let them sit for about 20 minutes.

From Betty: After you freeze the onions for two weeks, you said you can them, then put them in mason jars. So what is the process, do you let them thaw first? How do you get the moisture out of them before putting in the jars?

I recommend a technique that is what I call a “pseudo-pasteurization,” where you place your dehydrated food in the freezer for a week or two after you’ve dehydrated it. This helps to further dry out the food and kills any insect eggs that might have gotten into your dehydrator. This is especially helpful if you’re dehydrating outdoors. Although the warm air and fan will keep out insects while the dehydrator is on if your timer goes off before you can get to your food or you’re in a situation where bugs are really a problem you can freeze your dehydrated food. You can vacuum pack your jars before they go into the freezer, but it’s not necessary. You can vacuum seal them after they come out of the freezer if you like. There might be some condensation on the outside of your Mason jars when they come out of the freezer but the inside should be dry. This technique is especially helpful if you’re in an area that has high humidity.

Tina: Have you dehydrated summer squash at all?

Yes, I’ve dehydrated zucchini and yellow squash. I love to make zucchini chips, and then I dehydrate yellow squash after I’ve cooked it. The zucchini chips can be eaten right out of the dehydrator and the yellow squash is great for putting in soups, stews, and casseroles.

From Sandy: Some beans can be sprouted, like lentils and garbanzos. Even though they are usually eaten fresh and raw, I wonder if having had some of their starches turned into sugars and plant tissue, they would dehydrate and rehydrate well without requiring cooking?

You can eat garbanzo beans and lentils raw, however, for the best digestibility, I would cook them. Beans have phytic acid in them that prohibits nutrients from getting into your system. Sprouting does reduce the acid, as does cooking. Some beans, like kidney beans, have toxins in them that are neutralized when cooked. So, in general, I recommend cooking beans.

From Deanna (asking about cherries): There is quite a bit of time difference between 48-72 hours, so how would I know they are done but not rocks?!

Yes, there is a huge difference between drying times on most recipes and/or instructions for dehydrating food. There are so many variables at play when dehydrating food. For example, dehydrating times can vary depending on the water content of the food, the kind of food you’re dehydrating, your humidity, and the temperature in your dehydrator. Therefore it’s really hard to narrow down that time frame. The best way to keep track of drying times for your environment is to keep a journal. I go into great detail and give you a detailed chart of drying times, a conversion chart, and journaling pages in my book: Dehydrating: Charts and Basic Methods.

From Marcey: Is there a trick to dehydrating berries?

If you’re talking about something like strawberries, no, not really just cut them up and put them in the dehydrator. However, if you’d talked about something like blueberries or raspberries, it might be necessary to check the fruit before you put it into the dehydrator. You can check the berries with a knife or straight pin. I like to use an ice pick and then place them into the dehydrator. This breaks the skin of the berry allowing it to dry out.

From Simone: So if I dehydrate pumpkins next autumn in chunks for Arabic couscous or a stew is it necessary to soak the dried pumpkin in water before? Or just place the dried chunks in your pot while cooking the meal? And is the cooking time similar to fresh pumpkin?
Do you spice the pumpkin before dehydrating with salt or pepper?

If you’re going to use dried pumpkin in couscous, I would soak it to re-hydrate it. However, if you’re going to use it in a soup or stew I would just throw it in the pot. If you cook the pumpkin before you dehydrated it then the cooking time will be as long as fresh pumpkin or faster depending on the cooking method in your recipe. If you did not cook the pumpkin first it might take a little longer for the pumpkin to re-hydrate and then cook. I don’t recommend that you season any food before dehydrating it because some seasonings like salt can interfere with the dehydrating process. The exception to this would be if you were making something like vegetable chips where you would eat them right out of the dehydrator. In that case, you would season them before you dehydrate them. However, anything you put into storage should not be seasoned.

From Carla: Is it possible to use the oven as opposed to a dehydrator? If so, what would be the estimated drying time?

You can dehydrate in your oven if the oven can be set below 200 F. Some newer ovens have a dehydrating setting, however, unless you are able to monitor the temperature (in other words, you put the oven on the dehydrating setting and the temperature is displayed) then I don’t recommend dehydrating in an oven because there is no way to control the temperature. I do not recommend you put the food in the oven and prop the door open as that is a safety hazard. There are dehydrators on the market that are reasonably priced and are fine to start with. The drying time would depend on a lot of factors (See above).

From Patricia: When do you put foods in the freezer? Before or after you dehydrate them?

If you want to try the pseudo pasteurization technique (see above), you would put the dehydrated food in after it was dehydrated. However, you can take food out of your freezer and dehydrated it, just remember that freezing and drying are a process and the more you process the food the more it loses its taste, texture, and nutrition.