Wednesday, January 25, 2012

JOT #28: Drying

I have a confession to make: I have been using the dryer. It's cold and rainy and I am too tired to hang up clothes to let them dry for a week. But that's no excuse. I'm not being very eco-friendly this week. The next load will be better.

But this post isn't about that kind of drying. It's about another way to save food. When the sun is hot and bright, the easiest way to dry anything is out in it. But you can do it even in winter - just set some hibiscus petals in a window on a plate (in a single layer). Eat an orange and dry the peels on a cookie rack.

If you want to get more serious, you can get a food dehydrator. I found mine for $10 on craigslist, and it's cracked but works. I can make kale chips, raisins, chaisins (cherry raisins), dried apples, even fake fruit leather, or any dried fruit or vegetable, more or less. It's simple - just arrange the prepared fruit on the trays and plug it in. If you don't have a dehydrator, try borrowing one. In the meantime, an oven or toaster oven set on low (around 150-180oF) will work - you won't have to dry as long also.

To go even less energy-intensive, when it is hot, I put the food in the dehydrator and set the whole thing in my solar oven. Double duty! You can mimic this effect by using trays with holes in them (like idli trays or tiered steamer baskets) and covering up the whole thing before you put it out in the sun or a solar oven.

You'll never know until you've tasted your first homemade dried persimmon or orange slice. Delicious and addictive, and a great way to preserve extra fruit or veggies!

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