There are a number of effective ways to preserve surplus food and one of the easiest options is to dehydrate food.
In this article we look at
why you should dehydrate your food;
what dehydrator should you buy;
our free recipe for delicious homemade beef jerky and
a link to a fantastic dehydrator package deal to get you started.
Why you should dehydrate your food:
- Dehydrating removes surplus water from food without depleting the vitamins and minerals in the food: this also makes dehydrating the perfect option for people following a raw food diet.
- As the weight of many foodstuffs is made up significantly of water, removing the water through dehydration makes the foods considerably lighter. This makes dehydrating a fantastic option for hiking, camping and caravanning.
- Dehydrated foods can generally stored in airtight containers and if stored correctly will last for months if not years. A great way to free up space in the fridge or freezer!
- Dehydrated treats such as fruit leathers and dried apple slices are a healthy and delicious option for snacks. Dehydrated fruit pieces can also be added to muffins, breads and cakes for a tasty addition.
- You can dry almost everything including fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, meat, poultry, fish – even flowers. Dehydrating intensifies the aroma and taste of food, transforming it into the perfect ingredient for enhancing the flavour of your favourite snacks and dishes. Astound your friends with your own homemade jerky creations!
- Dehydrating is very easy and once you purchase your initial unit, the only ongoing expense is the cost of the food to dry. To dehydrate anything, all you need to do is simply slice your produce, set it on the trays and forget about it for the next 8-12 hours. You can even leave it on overnight, so you can wake up to a dehydrator full of dried goodness ready to be enjoyed!
What dehydrator should I buy?
There are a range of dehydrators in the market, including a number of very cheap ones from China which are often not backed with Australian Standards electrical certification or warranties.
Ozfarmer stocks the Ezidri brand of dehydrators. These are a New Zealand based company and are backed by an outstanding 2 year warranty and service program. In over 8 years of selling these products at Ozfarmer, we have only had one warranty issue in thousands of units sold and this was quickly and efficiently resolved by the local supplier.
Ezidri makes 3 different models of dehydrator, and the choice really depends on what you want to dehydrate, how much you want to dehydrate and how much you want to spend!
- The Classic comes with a preset temperature of 55ºC average, and is capable up to 10 trays overnight, making it perfect for someone starting out in dehydrating. With the Classic, you can make sure there’s always something tasty for morning tea, the lunch box or school bag.
- The fixed temperature of the Classic is great for making fruit rollups, or dehydrating your vegies for enhancing the flavour of your soups and pastas, however if you are looking to also dry meats, herbs and flowers then either the Snackmaker or the Ultra FD1000 is the dehydrator for you. Both of these have variable temperature control allowing you to dry a larger variety of produce.
- You are able to dry herbs, flowers and meats, including jerky, in the future, even though your first thought may have only been fruit rollups and vegetables! (This is the difference between the Snackmaker and the Classic. Because of its fixed temperature, your drying ability is limited with the Classic).
- The capability of drying up to 15 trays of produce or 10 trays of pureed fruit (for rollups) at once.
- The Snackmaker has 3 different temperature settings.
- With the Ultra FD1000, the possibilities are limited only by imagination. You can dry almost anything including fruit, vegetables, meat, herbs, fish and flowers.
- It has a huge drying capacity of up to 30 trays of produce at once, and a manual temperature control for accurate setting, variable from 30ºC to 65ºC.
- Designed specifically for bulk preserving, this home food dehydrator is second to none. These high-quality, reliable dehydrators are perfect if you have a backyard vegie patch, orchard or access to bulk amounts of fruit, or if you are looking to dry commercially.
Free Recipe for Beef Jerky
Beef Jerky is a favourite snack for on the go and is high in protein but low in calories.
Ozfarmer Outlaw Spices
Ezidri Snackmaker or Ultra dehydrator
Remove any surplus fat from the meat and then put the beef in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for approximately 30-60 minutes. This will make it easier to cut.
Remove the beef, unwrap it, and use a very sharp knife to cut the meat into strips approximately 1 – 1.5cm wide.
Combine the meat strips with your choice of spice in a large ziplock bag: use the bag to massage the rub into the meat. You want the meat to be coated but not excessively so. Marinating the meat gives jerky the most flavour; let it sit in the bag overnight in the fridge. Place the meat strips on trays for your dehydrator. Make sure there is a little bit of room between the strips to allow the air to circulate.
Dehydrate until the jerky is done: the time can take up to 8 hours depending on how thick your meat strips are, how humid the atmosphere is and your own personal taste for how you like your jerky! Experiment to find your ideal! Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Theoretically, it will keep in the fridge up to three months but if it tastes good you will be lucky if it lasts a day!
Dehydrator Special Buy the Classic dehydrator today and get a bonus pack of 2 fruit leather sheets and a 100g bag of one of our delicious jerky spices. Offer ends 31/8/2017.