Ooh I’m so excited! It’s my birthday, and I have a new toy!
I dream of a homestead/smallholding lifestyle, currently making do with a weedy Eden of an allotment. So when my parents asked if I might like a food dehydrator for my birthday, I jumped at the offer.
One day I will have (hopefully) a big farmhouse kitchen, and a scullery/utility room… but for now I do what I can in our kitchenette.
A dehydrator works by using a fan and heat to gently dry food stuffs, herbs, flowers etc which once all moisturehas been removed, can then be stored long term. The British climate is not always conducive to air/sun drying, and ovens often don’t run at low enough temperatures.
My first project, the test run, had to be something simple and straight forward. I happened to have a couple of apples that had been in the fruit bowl a while without us getting around to eat them… so I sliced (using a 5mm blade mandolin slicer) dunked in lemon water to stop browning, patted the excess off with kitchen paper, and sprinkled with cinnamon. The slices filled 2 trays of the dehydrator when laid out. 6hours at temperature of 55c and the slices were soft and chewy, but totally dry, and half filled the clip jar I had planned to store them in.
My next plan is a favourite tea blend: lemon balm. Waiting for a day when it stops raining for this, but a few hours on a very low temperature and the leaves should crumble easily into a jar. I think I will blend it with some lemon thyme which is just coming into flower.
Once I have got the hang of drying the herbs – getting to know the timings and temperatures that are needed, I will move on to other types: a crop of sweet woodruff will provide the base for scented sachets for the linen cupboard, with rose petals in potpourri for the Welsh dresser, lavender and rosemary for fragrant baths…