The Richmond Register

January 10, 2014

How does one dehydrate anything?

By Arritta Morris
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — I recently dug out my electric dehydrator and decided I was going to learn some new things about dehydrating fruits and vegetables.

It has been a wonderful learning experience. I will share with you some of the items I dehydrated.

Dehydrate oka

This is one of my favorite veggies. In the Deep South, where I was born, oka was a staple that loved the hot weather. The more you cut off the pod, the more returns.

I ate some dehydrate okra once and thought I should learn how to do it. I started to do it in the oven which can be your dehydrator if you do not have an electric one but then I remembered the one packed away in my storage. Enjoy my recipe. Since okra is now out of season I used bags of the whole pods.

INDGREDIENTS:

Two large bags of frozen okra

1 cup of olive oil

Cajun seasonings and garlic salt (my favorites)

DIRECTIONS:

Wash okra to get the pods wet in order to attach the oil and spices. I pour the oil over the pods in a bowl and toss well. Add the spices and toss well again.

I placed the pods on the dehydrator trays and turned the machine on high heat. This took me about a day and a half to get the results I wanted.

Test the okra from time to time to see what degree of crunch you like. I like mine as crunchy as I can get it.

I then store it in a sealed container. This makes a very filling snack, and it is high in fiber as well.

Some folk’s think the microwave could be a good dehydrator. I beg to differ. Other ways to dehydrate is in an oven, using the sun by itself or a conventional electric oven.

I will tell you why the microwave does not work to take the moisture out of things.

One day I had done two crochet doilies, the old type like our grandmothers use to starch and put over a bottle to make the ruffles work. I belived I was smarter than those old folks back then and thought I would starch the doilies and put it in the microwave to get the moister out. WRONG.

It took the moisture out all right … and caught the things on fire. Nearly burnt the microwave up. Could not tell what color my doilies were that I started with.

So, pay attention to what one can and cannot use the micro wave for.

Shopping for fruits

vegetables to dehydrate

Many times certain fruits and veggies are on sale in the produce departments. One can dehydrate some of these to use at a later date. Some that I do quite often are: onions, bell peppers, peaches, celery, pineapple.

However, bananas are what I like to do the best.

Dehydrate bananas

Soak the whole peeled bananas in lemon juice. Let it soak for five minutes. The lemon juice prevents browning. One can use orange juice as well.

Remove the bananas from the juice and slice into equal thicknesses. I let the bananas drain off any excess juice.

Place on dehydrator racks or on some type of open wire rack for your oven process. If you do these in the oven make sure the oven is at 125 degrees. It takes about 18 hours in the oven and about the same in the dehydrator. I use the dehydrator at the highest temperature.

These are great in trail mixes you might make or purchase. High in potassium and low in fat.

Dehydrate tomatoes

Another favorite item to dehydrate is tomatoes. They take longer as tomatoes are made of a great deal of water.

I try and use whatever is on sale. I love to use these in recipes such as sauces for pasta dishes as well as soups.

I do not peel the tomatoes as I want to get as much fiber in my meals as possible. Some folks may want to peel them.

I do hope you try some of my ideas epically if you love okra like I do. As a kid I even ate it raw.  Have fun dehydrating.

Arritta Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Kentucky University. She is certified as a food service specialist by the School Nutrition Association.