Table of Contents
The last chapter was about eating food in season, but there is no point in wasting food if you have too much of it. When food is in season, there is usually such an abundance that much of it just gets thrown away. Not so long ago, we visited a fruit farm that gave its plums away for nothing if you picked them yourself. The reason was that it was such a bumper crop that they could not sell it all. And the fruit left on the trees would have gone wrong in a day or two. The farmer reckoned that over 20 tons of plums would go to waste. And that was even after he gave lots of them away for free.
And this is where dehydrating comes in. Fruit and vegetables are ideal for drying and will keep for many years if stored properly. Drying is also quite easy to do, especially if you live in a hot area. But for those that live in colder climates, a good dehydrator will do the job.
We have tried many dehydrator brands over the years and think the Excalibur brand is the best. It is a little more expensive than some other brands, but it is well worth paying a little extra for. We have had the Excalibur for many years, and it is still working as well as it did on the day we bought it. As this book is about eating raw food on a budget, we do not want to start suggesting that you buy expensive equipment, but sometimes an up-front investment will save you money in the long run. But we know some people who have purchased a dehydrator, used it a few times, and then never used it again. If you are thinking of buying one, make sure you need it and use it regularly.
As we mentioned earlier in the book, we split my time between living in the US and abroad. Depending upon where we are, we usually dehydrate food in the sun. Drying in the sun is the best way to dehydrate food and has been a method used for thousands of years. Travel and you will see all foods being left out in the sun to dry – meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. It needs to be a hot climate to use the sun’s power to dehydrate foods, though. In the summer months, parts of the US are suitable for this.
When dehydrating outdoors, be sure to put some fine netting over your food to keep flies, birds, and small animals away from your diet. You need to make sure that you do not dehydrate near traffic, as your food will be polluted and potentially dangerous.
During the summer months, when there is a lot of fruit in abundance at bargain prices, we tend to buy extra and dehydrate it to have an excellent supply for the winter months. Dried fruit is great for adding to homemade muesli, or just snacking on with a few nuts and seeds. Overeating dried fruit is not recommended, but if you have children, a few dried fruits will be a better snack than some candy from the store.
Many people are familiar with dried fruits, but not so familiar with dried vegetables. But vegetables can also be dehydrated and stored for later use. Dried herbs and vegetables are ideal for hearty winter soups, or just sprinkling on salads as a condiment. Once dried, they will be easy to grind down into flakes or powder to use as seasoning.
Another great thing about dehydrating your food that deserves mention is that your food will not have any nasty ingredients added, as is almost always the case with food manufacturers. So, you will not have added salt, sugar, MSG, chemicals, or other nasties. Simply great, wholesome food.
If you think, dehydrating is for you, get a good book on the topic, and get started.