Before I get started talking about dehydrating I want to comment about the blending posts I have written so far.
I was in Staunton last weekend for our annual VSDB reunion. I talked to a lot of people about my posts. When I have a post come out, I automatically foreword it to the group as I do not think they know how to work WordPress. However, the most comments I heard was that I read your recipes about cooking. It is true, I am talking about what and how I cook, but more importantly, how I must blend food to be thin enough to go through my tube, but thick enough to get all the nutrition I can get. The trick is the right consistency. If you make things too thick and don’t add enough water, then you run the risk of getting dehydrated because you need the water to stay hydrated. I have picked different meats, vegetables, and starches to show you how I have to do things. Please pay attention to the water levels I use to achieve my right consistency.
Now, onto why I decided to try dehydrating my blended meals.
After a few months of blending last year, my wife had a thought. “I wonder if you could take your blended meals and dehydrate them?” We thought about freeze-dried coffee, MREs for the military, foods for campers, hikers, and doomsday preppers, so why couldn’t you make your own dehydrated foods? Dehydrated meals would take up less space and make it easier to travel. I agreed. When we went on vacation, I had to buy a cooler and take 22 containers of already blended food with me plus take the blender. That was a lot of work because not every hotel you stay in has a refrigerator so you need to use ice to keep things cool. When you’re driving, you’re only limited by the amount of space in your car. Traveling by other means presents more of a problem.
My wife went on the internet and researched dehydrated foods; what hikers do, what campers do, how to dehydrate at home. Her research led us to decide that using our home oven was not an option since it would be on for 12 to 14 hours and the stove would be out of commission for regular cooking, not to mention the heat in the kitchen.
My wife found a dehydrator online for $50.00 and told me about it. She said, “If it doesn’t work, we haven’t lost anything but $50 dollars.” I thought for a moment and I remembered when I was at VSDB, we weren’t allowed to have coffee at meals, but most of us boys had a jar of instant coffee in our locker and a cup to put the coffee in. We would come up to our room from breakfast, put the instant coffee in our cup, run hot water and add it to the coffee in the cup. Bingo. We had coffee. After telling my wife this story, I said, “I think it would work.”
We decided to give it a try.
My wife ordered the dehydrator and 4 trays. The unit comes with trays that are open, like a grid for drying meats and fruit slices. There are also thin trays called jelly roll pans that sit on the open tray.
When we got the dehydrator right before Thanksgiving, we started thinking about things we wanted to try. Over Thanksgiving, I cooked several things, blended them up and was ready to start dehydrating the next day. I found out that things with a high grease content to don’t dehydrate well and sure don’t blend up well after being dehydrated. I also found that things with a high sugar content, like candy, don’t dehydrate well, either. Then came the idea I could dehydrate a mincemeat pie. Wrong. Fruit doesn’t dehydrate at all. What it does is make a solid layer that is like a fruit roll-up. That is no good either. When we first tried to dehydrate something, I had to much liquid in the mixture, so we had to strain a lot of liquid off. I learned very quickly you have to add less water and make the mixture like a paste so you can spread on the trays that are greased lightly with a kitchen spray. Not knowing how long it was going to take to do the job, we set out checking every two hours and then after eight hours, we found most things were done. We learned to use the temperature of 160 degrees worked best.
After the dehydrating was done, we saw the finished job looked like potato chips. My wife had to break off pieces and try them. Her report was they were good. Now what do we do to make the chips grind up small enough so we can rehydrate them? We tried different machines; small chopper, regular blender, food processor, but couldn’t get it grind up small enough. We then tried the Vitamix blender. That did a good job, but not good enough. I told her we must get it to the point where when we rehydrate the food, it must be liquid and go through my tube.
My wife went to the Vitamix web site and found they have a dry container for grinding up dry goods. Most people would use the dry goods container to grind up grains to make their own flour.
The container is smaller and the configuration of the blades in the container is a lot different than the blending container. We also saw you must go in reverse direction to grind up the chips of dehydrated food. We first took the food that we couldn’t get quite blended up small enough and ran it through the container. We were really surprised at what we saw. That container blended up the chips like flour, which is the consistency we needed.
I was eager to rehydrate the food to see what was going to happen. Now after a few tries, I figured out how much food and water I needed to rehydrate food.
What does this mean for me? Hopefully it will make it easier for us to travel and fly to places to far for a road trip (if I can get through airport security, ha-ha!).
This is how and why we started dehydrating food. In posts coming up, I am going to show you successes and failures, and what I found works and what doesn’t work. Pay attention to the food mixture I put together and how thick I must make it to work. Now this is a lot of work and isn’t for everyone, but as for me, it is perfect. I worked in food service for 30 years and I understand the breakdown of food and how to put things together. I am going to write all about traveling with dehydrated food how I do it and how it works for me. I will tell you right now, this is very worthwhile and rewarding for me.
Blind Blender man