I try never to waste food, but especially right now during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s not so simple to just go to the store.
I had a bag of apples that the kids just weren’t eating fast enough so I decided to dehydrate them before they went bad (they were already on the soft side).
I used a mandolin slicer (you can get the same one here) to slice the apples thinly. I put them in water with a bit of lemon juice while slicing to keep them from turning brown.
I then spread them out on my dehydrator and turned it on low for about 12 hours. I like to add the chips to muffins and loaves but you could also rehydrate them and turn them into apple sauce. My dog likes to eat them as treats and they’re a lot healthier than some other treat options.
To store, I put them in a mason jar with an oxygen absorber. You could also vacuum seal them but I don’t expect mine to hang around too long as I’m already planning ways to use them.
Bananas are a cheap and easy source of vitamins. The only problem is they turn really bad really quick. Luckily, there’s a few easy things you can do to extend the lifetime of your bananas.
Freezing bananas is ridiculously easy. I know several people who for ages would just throw away their over ripe bananas and then buy new ones to make banana bread or muffins. Don’t!
Throw your spotty or overripe bananas in the freezer as is, peel and all. The skin will go black but they are easy to slip out of the skins once they defrost and easy to mush for your baking needs.
Bananas can also be used in the place of eggs in vegan baking.
To keep your fresh bananas longer, separate the bunch. The ripe bananas release a gas that quickly ripens other bananas close to them. Once your bananas are at the ripeness you prefer, put them in the fridge. The skin will blacken but the banana will stay at your preferred ripeness for a few more days than if they were on the counter. (I’ve heard up to 14 days but I’ve personally only gone to about 5 in the fridge.)
Finally, dehydrating them. To dehydrate bananas, just slice them thin and lay them on the dehydrator trays. They take a long time because of the moisture content but they make amazing banana chips. (A tip my kids found on YouTube: dip your sliced bananas in dry pudding mixes before putting them on the trays. Its messy, so wear gloves but it tastes so good!)
Here is an affiliate link for the dehydrator I have https://amzn.to/39aoRbO This means if you buy the dehydrator through my link, I will make a little bit of money at no extra cost to you!
When it comes to preparing, sometimes our furry friends are overlooked.
Dog food can be expensive, bulky and depending on what you feed them, it can expire quickly.
A cheap and easy way to store dog food long time is to dehydrate your own ingredients (Here is my beloved dehydrator: https://amzn.to/39aoRbO ) and mix it. When ready to serve, you add a bit of water and you’re set.
Dogs need a certain balance of nutrients in their diet but its simple to figure out the ratio.
They need about:
1 part meat
1 part grain
1 part vegetables
There are of course people that feed their dogs grain free, but that’s up to you.
When dehydrating meat, I usually make sure that its fully cooked first and then dehydrate it from there.
You can use your table scraps but make sure that you cook your meat plain, adding flavorings, salt, pepper and other things later, just to be safe.
Vegetables you could do raw or cooked, again, make sure ther’es no added butter or anything that could go rancid
if not dehydrated properly.
And as for grains, I usually use rice or oats for my dogs (as one of them has a sensitive stomach).
To make the mixture, I gather all my dehydrated ingredients and buzz them up in a food processor so it makes a fine powder. Then I measure about a cups worth of each, put it in a bowl and mix it thoroughly.
Then just add to a jar or a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and store in a cool, dry place.
Vegetables to USE: spinach, celery, carrots, peas, green beans and sweet potatoes are all puppy favorites.
Vegetables to AVOID: avocados, onions, garlic and tomatoes have all been listed as toxic at some point to dogs, so I felt it best to add them here although I know some people who swear by giving their dogs garlic (I don’t.)
My pups also like fruits such as banana, apple, watermelon, and blueberries. I have dehydrated these separately as treats.
Next week I’ll cover our feline companions.
Vitamin C is a very important nutrient that seems to be lacking in a lot of survival foods. Getting enough vitamin C is vital in an emergency situation. It is necessary for collagen synthesis (collagen is what heals your wounds, and knits the skin back together), without it your new wounds may not heal properly and older cuts may start to fall apart.
Enough vitamin C can cut back on how often you get colds and flus and cut back on how much they affect you. It can also delay the onset of certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimers. It is essential for drug metabolism, helping medications to reach their full potential in your system.
Sources of vitamin C include: broccoli, sweet bell peppers, sprouts, kale, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and of course citrus fruits. Citrus can be found easily and cheaply by almost everyone and it is so simple to dehydrate.
Pick nice, firm just ripened fruits. Cut into thin wheels (1/4″) and lay on your dehydrator trays. Using a temperature controlled dehydrator, set it to 125 F. It takes about 6-8 hours depending on the humidity in your area, it could also take more. (Here’s my dehydrator: https://amzn.to/39aoRbO )
To use your citrus, you can place it in glasses of water or juice to add flavor or you can powder the inner parts to make juice mix. Make sure to store your fruit in airtight containers in a cool dry environment.
Onions are such a versatile vegetable. They are cheap and add so much flavor, just about any savory recipe is better when onions are added. Dehydrating onions is quick and easy.
Begin by chopping your onions to the desired size. I usually do large flakes so the pieces don’t fall through the holes on my dehydrator but you could always mince them. Try to remove the thin pieces of skin that clings between the layers. (You can get a dehydrator like mine here)
Dunk your onion pieces into boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute. They will turn slightly translucent when they are ready and they will be softer. Put them in a strainer and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.
Pat the pieces dry with some paper towel and remove any extra bits of the skin (which will now be mushy and easy to remove). Arrange the pieces in a single layer on your dehydrator and turn it on.
My dehydrator doesn’t have a temperature control so I just let it run for about 5 hours to have the onions as dry as I need them. They end up paper thin. Now here’s a recipe you can use your onions for:
Dry Onion Soup Mix
1 cup dehydrated onion flakes
1/3 c bouillon
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp parsley
Store the ingredients in an airtight jar until ready for use. I also like to throw in some other dehydrated veggies (carrots, garlic, celery and whatever else catches your fancy.) To make into soup, add 4 c of water, or for dip, add to a tub of sour cream.
To dehydrate broccoli, first cut it into bite sized pieces and blanch for about a minute in boiling water. This will help to maintain the green color (otherwise it goes a nasty brown). Plunge the hot broccoli into some cold or iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain to get as much water off as possible. I then spray with a bit of lemon juice (also helps the green color). Place on your dehydrator trays (not touching otherwise you get damp spots). It usually takes my dehydrator about 6 to 8 hours to dehydrate broccoli. Store as you would other dehydrated foods. Here is the dehydrator I use: (Excalibur Dehydrator)
To use your broccoli, here’s a simple but tasty broccoli soup recipe using things that are probably already in your food storage.
3 cups chicken broth (approx 2 cans. You can also use water or water with bouillon cubes)
5 cups rehydrated (or fresh) broccoli (approx 2.5 cups dehydrated)
1.5 cups fresh (or rehydrated) onions (approx 3/4 cups dehydrated)
2 bay leaves
6 tbsp butter (can also use canned butter or butter powder)
7 tbsp flour
3 cups milk (can use reconstituted powdered milk)
Bring chicken broth (or water etc) to a boil. Add broccoli, onions and bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender. Remember to remove your bay leaves.
In a separate saucepan melt butter and stir in your flour to make a roux (paste). Slowly stir in the milk and incorporate it into the roux. Cook until thickened. Add your broccoli mix slowly. Heat and stir until thick.
If you have no butter and flour to make a roux you can also thicken your soup with cornstarch (make sure it boils to cook out the cornstarch) or potato flakes.
I like to dehydrate my own vegetables. I find it is cheaper than buying the #10 cans of dehydrated vegetables. My own dehydrator is sort of lack luster. It was $30 and has large holes so I can’t dehydrate everything I would like to (saving up for a nine tray Excalibur though! ~ update: I got one and love it! You can find one here )
One of my favorite veggies to dehydrate is carrots. They are easy, get super small and I add them to a lot of different dishes (soups, stews, in the pan with roasting meats etc).
To dehydrate carrots, I first peel them and chop off the tops. I then slice them very thin ( 1/8 “) on a mandolin but I have also used a knife (doesn’t take me too long because I was a chef but could take someone with lesser knife skills all day to do the amount as thin as they should be). You need to blanch the carrots next. To do this, plunge the slices into boiling water for about a minute and take them out and put them in ice water. I usually use a metal strainer to put the carrots in the boiling water then I’m not fishing after all the little bits with a slotted spoon. I don’t normally have ice so I just rinse the slices with very cold water to stop the cooking process.
After your carrots have been blanched and cooled quickly, you arrange your carrots in a single layer on your dehydrator trays. My dehydrator has a recommended setting for vegetables so I set it and leave the carrots for a good 6-8 hours. I then test a couple of pieces of carrots by taking them off the trays, let them cool down then try to bend them. If they bend, put them back in. If they snap or crack, they’re done!
In the picture are raw sliced carrots and the dehydrated carrots. For size comparison, I’ve added an American penny.