The dehydrator was out and we had a counter full of onions and carrots. I almost passed them by justifying that they were one of few foods I can buy local and fresh (though not nearly as good as the moment they come from the ground) throughout the year. I also associate them with the hard chunks I have received in homemade instant soup recipes – the kind that you add water, an oxo cube and transform a jar of pebbles into nourishment.
Then again, the carrots and onions were there. I have eaten dehydrated versions of them my entire life (not in great quantity, mind you) and I like the idea of learning more about what you eat by cooking it at least once (something I`ve wanted to extend to the world of cheese for some time).
The process couldn`t be easier – pull out the mandolin, hack up the veggies and get them on a try at 125. Fruit is dehydrated 10 degrees hotter and I believe the difference comes from the larger percentage of water in the sweeter things.
Once your product is in the dehydrator, wait. Vegetables (depending on thickness) take 6-8 hours to complete. The manual work is over in 15 minutes which is a start contrast to canning (which takes at least an hour for me from start-to-finish).
The results are notable and, like other efforts in preserving, so much better than what I previously accepted as dehydrated. I am learning more about the reasons behind that (it appears that many commercial products are, in part, chemically dehydrated) but will post more when I learn enough to talk about it in full sentences.
The carrots and barely pliable and wonderfully sweet. Two entire trays (about 4.5 square feet of carrot slices) became 2 cups of dehydrated carrots. They are dry and leathery and somewhat pliable. They are not miniature rocks. These are heading for salads and stir-frys through the winter. I am very happy with them.
The onions were surprisingly awesome. A sweetness now comes from their essence and they are stunning to look at as well. These will make great additions to salads, tops of soups and to our no knead bread as well.
I should also mention how delightful the house smelled during this process. The fragrance was enough to drive one to eat (a positive and a negative I suppose). It really was a fantastic smell through the house and has me thinking. If I dehydrated onions and carrots while making a roast for a dinner party I could enhance the culinary smells of the entire house and get people`s senses further engaged.
I can now see uses for both ingredients – even when fresh are available in the house. I would eventually like to experiment with transforming the onion to power form – perhaps this will be a mystery ingredient in a coming onion soup recipe.
Cost: $0.50 carrots, $0.25 Onions