How and Why to Dehydrate – Part Two (Saving Time and Space with a Dehydrator)

Excalibur Dehydrator

In yesterday’s post, I outlined how a dehydrator can save you money LOTS of money.

And as if that weren’t enough to get you to add one of these to your list of “kitchen must haves,” as promised, I will continue by explaining how this great black box can:

  • Save you time
  • Save storage space, and
  • Boost the nutritional value of food

Today we’ll cover the first two and we’ll get to the nutritional stuff hopefully tomorrow.

Before we get into this, please remember that with all of these ideas for cooking and eating more healthfully while doing it on a budget — it’s all one step at a time.  The last thing I want you to do is to read all about this (or anything on my blog, for that matter) and then stress out thinking, “There’s no way I can do all of this!” and then give up in exasperation.

We’ve all been there, stressing out and being close to giving up.  And I am convinced that the stress can be just as bad for you as eating processed junk foods.

None of us is completely healthy and none of us has it all figured out.  I hope we can share ideas, encourage each other and gradually make changes in our lives that make us more healthy and better stewards of the gifts God has given us.

So — stay with me, OK?

How can a dehydrator save time?

1.  Dehydrating takes a lot less time than canning.  No finicky sterilizing of jars, no blanching, etc.  Because of all that, I am still scared of canning. Sure, there are some foods that take a bit of extra work to dehydrate, but primarily you just wash the food, slice it if necessary, put it on the dehydrator trays, turn on the machine, and you’re done. Then you go about your business while the machine does its work.

2.  Cutting down on trips to the store. You’ll have dried foods available year round and won’t need to run out to go grocery shopping as often (and you’ll also save money by not loading up on things that you don’t need at the grocery store :-))!

The space saving feature of dehydrated foods is pretty much a no-brainer.  Fruits and vegetables are made up primarily of water.  Actually, the amount of water that is in them in almost unbelievable!  Here are some examples of foods that you might dehydrate:

Apple:  84%
Apricot: 86%
Banana: 74%
Blueberries: 85%
Cherries: 81%
Cranberries: 87%
Grapes: 81%
Peach: 88%
Pear: 84%
Strawberries: 92%
Celery: 95%
Peas: 79%
Spinach: 92%
Zucchini:  95%
Tomato:  94%

Isn’t that something?  When you dehydrate the water out of these foods and then store them dried, the space that they will take up ranges from 5-16% of their original size.  Think about the difference between storing a teeny tiny bag of sun-dried tomatoes in your fridge versus finding space for 5 quart jars on your shelf!

If you have a limited storage space, whether in your pantry or your freezer, then a dehydrator is for sure the food preserving tool for you.

I use and recommend the Excalibur Dehydrator for a number of reasons.  As an authorized dealer, I can get a great deal on one for you as well (including drop shipping to your door and freebies as well).  Just contact me either by leaving a comment here, through my Contact Me page, or by emailing at wholenewmom at gmail dot com.  Either way, your purchase helps keep this free resource going and I very much appreciate that :-).

For other dehydrator posts, check out:

Saving Money with a Dehydrator
Boosting Nutrition with a Dehydrator
Which Saves Most–Dehydrating, Canning, or Freezing?

What kind of food preservation do you do?

(Source for Water Content of Fruits and Vegetables)

Comments

    Speak Your Mind

    *

  1. Hi Adrienne,

    I am entertaining the idea of dehydrating food and I was wondering if you could write a post answering a few questions that I think other people might be interested in:

    1. What is cleanup like after each type of food?
    2. Is there a smell given off while the machine is running?
    3. Do you recommend that even people in small apartments can handle dehydrating? This is in reference to #2. My husband complains about smells lasting for days. When I cook something in the crock-pot, he loves it but really hates the smell that the whole apartment has for a day or two.
    4. Do you have to be careful when choosing foods to dehydrate after each other? Like fruits versus other types of food? Such as meat for making jerky?
    5. Can you dehydrate different types of food at the same time? Such as apples, bananas, grapes, etc. all in the machine together?

    I love your blog and please keep up the great work!

    ~Lauren

  2. Have you calculated the cost of the electricity & water? When I look at that list of how much water is in food, I think, “So if I remove all that water, then I have to replace it when I cook the veggies”. That either requires paying for what comes out of the faucet, or driving to the local spring & hauling it back. Also, we were recently given a 2nd hand Harvest Maid dehydrator – nowhere near as fancy as your Excalibur, I’m sure, but the price was right. :-) It takes 15 to 18 hours to dry apples, etc., and I’m wondering how much I’ll be paying for electricity to run that machine for that long. I’m not trying to be negative – just wondering if anyone has figured these things out. Thanks!

    • I can’t speak to your particular dehydrator, but I I just found a fabulous chart outlining the costs associated w/ freezing, canning and dehydrating.

      I will try to write a post on this in the next week or so, so you may wish to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS or follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss it.

      Basically, it shows that dehydrating is the most reasonable, with canning next and freezing last. But from what I am reading, it appears that they all make sense. I think you will agree. It all depends on if you are a savvy shopper and can take advantage of good deals.

      These are just tools that will enable you to be the sharp economical manager of your home that we all need to be in these tough times.

  3. I am curious about the foods you make with yours. I felt all motivated to get one and we purchased the excalibure. I dehydrated a lot of foods but found that I don’t really know how to cook with the dried vegetables. I have corn, mixed veggies (was from frozen), and peas but have yet to have a successful meal that I’ve tried using them in. Now I’m starting to think that I should sell it because it’s taking up space and not getting the love that I thought it would.

  4. Karen, I too dehydrated a lot of my frozen vegetables. I am trying to greatly reduce the amount of food in my freezer in anticipation of times when we may not have power and at which times I will lose everything in there. I dried peas, limas, corn, green beans – every frozen vegetable I had, I dehydrated. But when I tried to use the veggies they never regained their plump juicy texture and the flavor was different, not pleasant. Not only that, but as they dried they became brown (as in bordering on burnt) which was most unappealing to me. You might say I left them in too long, but I only left them in until no moisture remained. I ended up composting pretty much all of the food. I cannot afford that kind of waste! So now I pretty much stick to dehydrating fruits (pineapple is DIVINE, I just finished some of the last cherries of summer), tomatoes, and I even made powdered pumpkin and butternut squash for making pies or whatever. I’ve just come to the conclusion that all foods do not fare equally in dehydrating. I love my Excalibur, even though I don’t have the Paraflexx sheets. I’m hoping to discover a good (cheaper) substitute for them. I’ve been drying my figs this year and they are wonderful. I love having them for a nice quick snack and they are so much better than purchased dried figs.

    I haven’t figured out how to dry some things so that enough moisture is removed that they won’t get all stuck together and/or mold during storage, yet not be crispy dry. I know they can be stored in the fridge to avoid most of that, I would have to have a second refrigerator for that kind of storage, and there again, during power outages I would be risking losing my food. I’m trying to keep to a minimum the food that is stored using electricity. I would recommend test-drying a food before committing larger quantities of it and risking loss.

    There is a website called dehydrate2store and that lady tells how to dehydrate everything, with some videos too. That’s where I learned how to do pumpkin, although I did do an adaptation of it to make it work better.

    I’m just discovering your blog, Adrienne, and enjoying it very much. I found you through KKK (Kelly the Kitchen Kop). I like your posts about making herb and spice blends. I’ve always enjoyed a simple one I got from Paula Deen, her house seasoning, which is just salt, pepper and garlic powder. It makes EVERYthing taste good!

    • Thanks for the recommendation on the “house seasoning” – I will need to check it out. Sounds like my chat masala. We love it on just about everything – but it has cumin, not garlic :-)!

    • Just thought I would reply to Naomi….I love my excalibur, but like her needed a paraflexx sheet that was cheaper! At the Dollar Tree they have “Set of 2 Flexible Chopping Mats” I just cut them with scissors til they fit! It’s not exactly the same size…but works beautifully! I got 10 for $5!

  5. The recipe for Paula Deen’s House Seasoning is: 1 part black pepper, 1 part garlic powder, 4 parts salt. I’ve found that it’s better, at least in my house with high humidity, to make small batches of this and keep it tightly covered, because the garlic powder absorbs moisture very quickly and the mixture will harden. Surely it would keep better in a climate-controlled home :)

  6. Kiyomi Cooper says:

    I love my Excalibur! I go through times of using it more than others but it has been worth the money for me. I have dehydrated tomatoes, corn, fruit, and mushrooms, etc. but the exciting use for it has been “raw foods”! I am not a raw foodist but think much of the food is yummy and have made very healthy coconut and nut “cookies” (think energy bars) raw falafel, soaked sprouted and marinated almonds and cashews fabulous nut-flax crakers, and it makes the best kale chips ever. I’ve had mine for over ten years with never a problem!

  7. Too bad I got my new dehydrator last month. :(

  8. Hi there! Another commenter posted these questions and I didn’t see an answer but have the same questions. Please advise. Thank you!!
    1. What is cleanup like after each type of food?
    2. Is there a smell given off while the machine is running?
    3. Do you recommend that even people in small apartments can handle dehydrating?
    4. Do you have to be careful when choosing foods to dehydrate after each other? Like fruits versus other types of food? Such as meat for making jerky?
    5. Can you dehydrate different types of food at the same time? Such as apples, bananas, grapes, etc. all in the machine together?
    6. Does the dehydrator have to be full when using? Or can you just use a couple of the trays?

    • Hi there.
      1. Clean up depends on what you are making. I don’t clean up much after nuts or seeds, but you have to w/ something like sun dried tomatoes.
      2. Yes, you will have a smell of the food while it is drying.
      3. I am not clear what you mean. Please clarify.
      4. I am not sure what you mean here either.
      5. Yes, but they will dry at different times.
      6. You can use as many trays as you wish.

      thanks!

      • Thanks for replying. The unanswered questions don’t pertain to me (I copied from a previous poster) so I’m all good with your responses. Thank you!