Preserving the Harvest – Dehydrating


Prepping the Sun Golds for the dehydrator.

Prepping the Sun Golds for the dehydrator.

Since becoming a farmers market customer and manager, I’ve had to teach myself how to preserve foods to extend the harvest outside of the normal seasons. Canning and freezing are great methods that I use often, but the best $100 I think I’ve ever spent was getting a dehydrator. I’ve used it many times to make beef jerky with grass-fed beef, but I’m just now starting to experiment with it for preserving fruits and vegetables.

Sun dried Sun Gold tomatoes.

Sun dried Sun Gold tomatoes.

My first recent experiment was when I decided I wanted to see how “sun” dried tomatoes would taste when made from Sun Golds, the sweetest of cherry tomatoes. So I bought three pounds of Sun Golds from Biver Farms, harvested some fresh oregano and thyme from my herb garden and got to work. It was as simple as cleaning and cutting all the Sun Golds in half and placing them in a large bowl. Then I added olive oil (a tablespoon or more), sea salt (1/2 teaspoon) and the chopped up herbs (a teaspoon or more of each). Here’s the recipe that I started with and adjusted for what I had. The intensity of flavor is amazing when they are done, and I can’t wait to try them in my favorite vegetarian enchilada recipe.

Apples on the dehydrator.

Apples on the dehydrator.

Tomatoes are starting to slow down with the cooler weather, but there are lots of other things to dehydrate. And when life gives you lots of apples, make apple chips! I tried this over the weekend and might need to adjust my recipe somewhat. I used about 8 small organic apples from Blue Heron Orchard. I cored and cut them, cutting off any spots or blemishes on the skin. Next time, I will try this without the skins altogether. The issue is that the skins and the flesh dry at different rates. Anyway, I used a solution of lemon juice and water to soak the 1/4 inch slices of apple. This helps to keep them from browning and looking unpleasant. It took a good 8 hours to dehydrate the apples, longer than it usually takes to do beef jerky. They are tasty, but I need to try a couple different options to perfect it. Along with peeling the skins, I’ll probably also try to do thinner slices to cut down on the drying time. I threw them on a salad last night and they added nice flavor and texture.

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