June 13, 2011

New Book: Making & Using Dried Foods

Michelle at A Green Acre recently hosted a book giveaway. The book was Making & Using Dried Foods by Phyllis Hobson. I'm delighted to say that I won the book and it arrived the other day.

Until now, my home library has had only two books in the category of dehydration. One is the owners manual that came with my Excalibur dehydrator. It has a few recipes but mostly instructions, times, and temps for dehydrating various food items. The second is Just Add Water by Barbara B. Salsbury. This is a food storage and preparedness oriented book, so it is mostly recipes and tips on using purchased dehydrated foods. (I have to admit it's a book I don't use very often.)

Dehydrating blueberries

The actual foods I dehydrate are few. I showed you my current inventory lists recently (here), and you may have noticed that I haven't used a lot of these items. Dan and I didn't care for dehydrated summer squash or green beans and I have yet to try the dehydrated Swiss chard. I do use things like dried fruits, onions, and mushrooms however.

Dried yellow summer squash

One thing I like about a dehydrator, is that it can preserve any quantity, especially amounts that are too small for a canner load. Freezing can be used the same way, but frozen foods have a shorter shelf life, and will taste freezer burnt eventually. Dried foods keep longer with less loss of flavor and nutritive value. Plus they aren't effective by loss of electricity. The drawback, is that they just don't do the same as fresh, frozen, or canned foods, even after reconstituting. Nor for me anyway.

Making & Using Dried Foods has instructions and recipes for almost every food imaginable, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats. Those are pretty common, but how about drying dairy products? Not so sure I'll ever try that, but I am definitely interested in making some of the homemade breakfast cereals in the grain section. And the crackers in the hiking and camping section. Also I'm interested in the dried soup mixes. I think I may get more use from my dried tomatoes as tomato soup mix powder than slices.

Dehydrated figs

This book also has sections on things to consider when purchasing a dehydrator. Also instructions to make your own. Then there's the other uses for the dehydrator section, where there is a definite must-try recipe for cheese.

Many thanks to Michelle for the book. I can already tell it will be my go-to book for dehydrating. That's something I should do more of, and I think this will give me the inspiration.

How about you? Have you done much dehydrating? What dried foods do you like to use? Care to share any tips or a favorite recipe?


Lynda said...

Congratulations! I love winning books. I plan on doing more dehydrating this year. With the garden producing for twelve months last year and the canning I did, I still have lots of *left-over*. So although I'm still going to be canning I want to concentrate a bit more on dehydrating. I may need to look into getting your book!

trump said...

Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,Pa

Woolly Bits said...

I don't use much dried food - the one obvious thing would be raisins (and a few herbs). the problem is that it's hard to dry stuff properly here. and to keep it dry! with our wet climate I have problems even with drying herbs - and dehydrators are costly and space-consuming:(( I'd have to put things into jam jars and even in there they start to go mouldy after a while:(( so no recipes either:))

Sherri B. said...

We have done very little but intend on learning and doing quite a bit including purchasing a new dehydrator.

Marissa said...

We've had a hard time switching to a lot of dried food too. It seems like our dehydrator is running round the clock in the summer though just to make "sun dried" cherry tomatoes. I don't think I have a book that is this comprehensive - I'll add it to my wishlist!

Leigh said...

Thanks Lynda. Wow, having a year round garden would require quite a bit of preserving. I hope you experiment with dehydrating and share what you think. I'm always on the lookout for recommendations.

Thanks Richard!

Bettina, actually, I have the same problem with humidity. Any dried food left out for too long gets limp and/or soggy. I envy folks who dry cripsy veggie chips for snacks! Still, I'm discovering that if I can get to a certain level of dehydration, things will keep without molding. You're right about a dehydrator taking up room though. Fortunately I can leave mine on my back porch!

Sherri, it's a lot of fun to experiment with. It seems to me though, that like so many other things there's an art to it that comes with experience. I'm still working on that part. :)

Marissa, some things do take forever don't they? I'm curious as to how you use those tomatoes. I'm still looking for ideas for mine!

Kids and Canning Jars said...

Leigh darling.
I am a dehydrating addict! I love the variety and the foods can keep forever. I dehydrate everything from yogurt to squash. My dehydrator is currently full of craisins, blueberries, cherries and dates. The main reason I love it is two. Convenience for something I may be out of and the shelf life. I store a ton in canning jars with an oxygen absorber in them. I love pulling off a pizza without going to the store. I grab, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes and whatever else like zucchini and top away. So much fun and so many uses. My mentor is www.deydrate2store.com
Good luck I am off to buy that book!

P.S i did a post on dehydrating yogurt forever ago here:

Safeena said...

Last year's dehydrator extravaganza was sliced tomatoes. Oh how wonderful it has been to have jars full of bright tasting, zingy tomatoes to use on virtually everything. Just a few minutes in some warm water returns them to tender.

Mama Pea said...

I have to admit we're not crazy about dehydrated vegetables, except for ones I throw in soup. But as far as, for instance, a serving of green beans, dehydrated ones just can't compare with frozen ones.

But, of course, anything dehydrated takes so much less space to store let alone energy usage such as with a freezer.

I love Phyllis Hobson's books (have several) and think I'll get this one you now have.

I use our dehydrator mostly for fruits which we use as stacks or adding to granola or trail mix.

Leigh said...

Melissa, you're an inspiration! I have so much milk now (and consequently I'm making a lot of yogurt these days), also pretty much fruit. We love our dehydrated melon, but this looks so yummy. I was puzzled about the inserts like Natalie, but your tip to try plastic wrap is perfect. I'll go check my dehydrator brands website to see what they offer. And thanks for the link! I really do need to dehydrate more so maybe this is that start of something big, LOL.

Safeena, thanks for the tip on re-hydrating tomatoes! I have one quart jar full, have tossed them that way on to pizza, but really need to use them more. Do you peel your tomatoes first? Or dry them with the peels on?

Mama Pea, glad to hear I'm not the only one. I do like the idea of powdering them though as an instant soup mix. That's assuming I can get them dry enough to do that with our humidity, LOL. Good point about storage. And dried foods do keep a long time.

I'd never heard of Phyllis Hobson until now. Thanks for mentioning she has more books. I'll have to look in to that.

trump said...

Please feel free to stop over at Amish Stories to read a new post from old order Mennonite Jean, only seen on my blog Amish Stories. Richard

Evelyn said...

I have an old book called Dry it, You'll Like it - can't remember the author. Love dried fruit mostly, but tomatoes and mushrooms are great too.

Mama Pea said...

"Dry It, You'll Like It" is by Gen Macmaniman. She self-published it in 1973 and has had several printings since then.

Leigh said...

Richard, will do. I've been enjoying Jean's posts.

Evelyn and Mama Pea, thanks! I'll see if our county library has it. I just found another book by Phyllis Hobson. It's entitled Tan Your Hide. I ordered a copy for Dan today.

Michelle said...

I'm happy to hear that you like your new book. We are hoping the cherry tomatoes turn out a good harvest this year to use especially for drying.

Leigh said...

Michelle, I like it indeed. I hadn't thought about cherry tomatoes, but I should grow a plant or two just for that. Thanks for the book, and the idea!

lunalupis said...

So far, our dehydrator has only been used to dry out the herbs for some of our tinctures and salves (which it works exceptionally well for!). We also have quite a few jerky recipes that I am longing to try!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

I have this book too and have used it often. Dehydrating is something I need to get better at and getting there slowly. But I am going to have to get those oxygen absorbers Melissa talked about. Moslty we love the fruits for snacking and I love all the herbs.

Joanna said...


I stumbled on your blog looking for info on harvesting wheat with a scythe, as we have our first winter wheat crop coming ripe and want to cut it just right.

We've been practicing the folk-agrarian life (as in following the wheel of seasonal life that our pre/non christian ancestors did) for a few years now, and have integrated an Excalibur dehydrator into our food preservation repertoire.

We can't live without dried fruit - cherries, apples, pears, plums, peaches - in 1/2 gallon jars with silica gel packets. We also dry all kinds of peppers, onion, garlic, corn, broccoli, herbs, jerky.

This year we're replanting all our garlic crop to work on developing a strain 'native' to our place. Having 40lbs dried & stored (and it reconstitutes wonderfully) means we can afford to do this and not run short of garlic for the household.

I also can large batches of chili and pepper steak on a regular basis, and the dried peppers & onions are wonderful to toss in the kettle by handfuls.