I can justify the purchase of almost any kitchen appliance. Even though my condos kitchen was built for a bachelor not a food blogger, I find a way to fit almost anything you could possibly need to cook with into the space. If I can get more than three uses out of it, I usually buy it.
When I first brought home my dehydrator from the store, I had only one purpose in mind: making my own tempeh. As soon as I walked through the door, hoisting the box on my hip, I knew I was going to have to do some major persuading to keep it. Since I had never used a dehydrator before, I was at a complete loss for other uses. But, like any home cook dead-set on keeping her new toy, I set out to win over my husband the best way I know how — whipping up delicious, we-must-keep-this dishes.
A dehydrator, made popular by raw-food enthusiast and jerky fans, can be used to make almost any type of cuisine. If you’re new to dehydrating, start with easy, no-fail recipes like kale chips or dried herbs and fruits. While you might have to plan your meals out further in advance as dehydrating foods can take anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, once the prep is done you can set it and forget it. Think of a dehydrator as the new slow cooker: Place your ingredients in the tray and wait.
- Nuts and Seeds: Try soaking and then drying nuts and seeds for a crisp, roasted flavor.
- Sprouted Flour: If you like sprouted breads, try making your own using sprouted flour. Dry sprouted grain kernels at a low temperature, then grind into flour. A little more work than buying a loaf at the store but the taste and freshness can’t be beat.
- Yogurt: The dehydrator also makes an excellent yogurt maker. Most cube-shaped models will fit jars to make yogurt. Although temperature requirements can vary depending on the specific culture, generally 110°F will set yogurt properly.
- Jerky: I admit, I’ve never made jerky. But I do plan on trying some tofu strips soon. You can use any type of protein!
- Proof Sourdough: Living close to San Francisco, I’ve become something of a sourdough snob. If your dehydrator goes low enough, you can warm your sourdough starter at 75 to 80°.
- Fruit Leather: Also known as adult Fruit-by-the-Foot. Making fruit leather is simple using a food dehydrator. You will need a non-stick sheet, but most dehydrators either come with this or it can be purchased separately.
- Tempeh: If you’ve ever been turned off by the bitterness of packaged tempeh, I urge you to try making your own! Homemade tempeh definitely cracks the list of my top 10 favorite foods.
Have you ever used a dehydrator? What are your favorite items to make in it?