I had received this Ronco brand food dehydrator a bit ago from my Mom. It is an older model from the 70’s I am sure. I was a bit uneasy to use it but I figured I would just go for it. I am glad I did.
It is late summer and there is still a lot of great fresh fruits and veggies at the markets and farmers markets so I wanted to stock up on some of that and dry it for later use. I was also really wanting to try to make jerky.
I must admit that though I like it, hubby and kiddo LOVE IT! The thought of jerkey allways kinda freaked me out. Meat laying out drying, is it raw still? Does drying it leave bacteria? Most of all I know drying out meat has been done for centuries, I get it. I still get kinda weirded out. I am the kinda girl that kills her steak when I cook. Family thinks I am nuts, but the thought of bloodly food enters my brain and cute animals then the whole thing gets ruined for me. Yeah I know I am weird. Still sometimes I love a chewey tear it apart with my teeth piece of jerkey. So I have to try it cause this stuff is not cheap.
I looked online at different recipes. Basically you just marinade your meat in your favorite thing slice thin about 1/4 in, trim off the fat and put it in the dehydrator. I did it and let it cook a day checked it and it looked and felt like jerky, the only thing is it was missing the saltiness. So the next attempt I added a extra GF soy sauce (tamari) to my GF teriyaki sauce marinade. Then just before I put in the dehydrator a bit of salt . I liked it and so did the family. I love salty food, you may want to test to your own liking before the extra addition of salt.
One thing I did do both times was to put in a preheated 250 degree oven for 10 minutes after I dehydrated it. I read that this insures that the core temp of meat hits 165 and kills any bacteria. (be careful not to over cook keep an eye on it!) . This helped me not get weird-ed out that the meat was raw even though the dehydrator basically cooks it at a very low setting.
DriedFood2My next attempt to have fun with my dehydrator was to do a bunch of summer veggies. That I have from the farmers market and what survived the fire and hail storm in my garden (I live in the area where there was a huge fire here in Colorado, luckily home survived). I was very pleased at how quickly the veggies dried and put them in a baggie for soups and stews during the winter months ahead.
I dried carrots, beans, celery, zucchini, onions and peppers.
My newest attempt is fruits. I am currently drying bananas with cinnamon, blueberries and strawberries. I will update post when they are done. My mother dried watermelon for us as kiddos and it was like eating candy. I will try that soon also. The berries are so cheap right now so I am excited to dry them up and package them up with the vacuum sealer and seal a meal (also thanks to my mom cleaning out her stuff). Have you seen the price of dried berries? I think I am more excited to save all that money and my kiddo will love eating it all during the winter. That is if I can get her to hold off eating them until then.
I really enjoy dehydrating foods not only cause it makes healthy snacks. but I can choose what goes in them to flavor it. This is especially nice since I want to choose high quality foods and marinades . I know what I am putting in it and it is safe and chemical free. No gluten or anything, gotta love it!
TIP: Freeze the meat before you slice it for the marinade. Freezing it a bit helps cutting the meat to the 1/4 in needed or just ask your butcher or as I did purchase it pre-sliced and on sale.
Momma Says: I recommend looking around for a used dehydrator or if you can buy one new. It has been fun to experiment and the family surly benefits.
Fun with food dehydrator