My dehydrator, an Andrew James model, is marketed primarily as a tool for dehydrating fruit and vegetables and making a bit of jerky. It’s not explicitly promoted as a device for dehydrating wet food into backpacking meals. Nevertheless, before buying I’d seen that someone in one of the Facebook groups had successfully used one for this purpose, and I even managed to find a review of the product from someone who’d done it (although this took a lot of wading through fruit and jerky-based reviews). This is important as the Andrew James costs a mere £40, instead of the £150 plus you’d have to shell out for an Excaliber, for instance. So far, the cheaper solution has worked out fine.
Given that the popular thing is to use this for fruit and veg, I thought I’d give it a go.
The other week when I was preparing my double batch of Beef in Red Wine, I also steamed off some frozen green beans, taking 160g (two of the standard portion sizes per the pack), steaming them and then bunging them on the machine to see what happened. There’s no detailed recipe with this one.
I dehydrated them at the same time as the Beef in Red Wine, so left them on there for most of the 12 hours that was running. The result was then vacuum packed as a single portion.
Apples, Raspberries and Bluberries
I’d been itching to dehydrate some spare raspberries, lured by the image of including them in a porridge mix with some coconut. Sadly I was down to a mere 9 raspberries so bought another punnet so I’d have a decent quantity. With most of a pack of blueberries lying around, they went on too.
While I was at it, I also quartered an apple and then sliced each quarter as thinly as I could, doing half of them with skin and half without. Lemon juice was added to slow the oxidisation (browning). Just to see what happens. These went on the top layer in the dehydrator as, according to the manual, they only take 5-6 hours compared with 8-26 hours for the berries.
These looked fine after 6 hours and pretty much like the ones you can buy in the shops. They’re pliable – the best I can describe them as is like crisps made out of foam.
The raspberries, however, were a different story. Twenty-four hours in and a few had leaked a bit of juice, a token effort at showing loss of moisture. Twenty-nine hours in, I stopped the machine. The older raspberries which had seemed to be making better progress now had crispy, almost burnt, bits on their undersides. The newer ones just felt odd – still soft and when pressed clearly still with some moisture in. They also tasted terrible. Even rehydrating one didn’t improve things. I packed these up in a slightly different container – the bin.
The blueberries had shriveled a bit after over a day of intensive heat, and reduced in size a bit. But they didn’t look good either. I added them to the raspberries.
So all in all, the fruit wasn’t a success. I think the blueberries really do need the shock and awe of being plunged in boiling water then immediately into iced water before going on the machine. Either that or a nuclear blast. The raspberries, I genuinely don’t know what didn’t work as I followed the guidelines.The only thing I can think off is that I should break them up a bit first rather than attempt them whole. I will try again sometime as the lure of raspberry and coconut porridge is just too strong.