Aagaard Farms asked our Facebook community for any advice on books or websites on dehydrating. We love requests like this – it makes coming up with ideas for new posts that much easier. And we do love to share…
Before reviewing a few of the books we have on the topic, I have to emphasize that dehydrating is a far simpler science than many other types of preserving. Don`t run out and buy a bunch of books – the book that comes with your dehydrator is often more than enough to get you started – and once you`ve started you`ll figure out a lot of this on your own (the exceptions being when you are working with meat or dairy which take more guidance.
The three essentials of dehydrating:
- Control of temperature and knowing which temperatures to use. If you dry herbs too hot they`ll brown – do fruit too cool and it`s won`t dry (or will take a very long time).
- Precise thickness. I use a mandoline. A 3 mm slice of berry will dry 50% after a 2mm slice. Using a hand slicer saves a bunch of time checking each product individually.
- Space between the product for air circulation (if I`m using a slicer I cheat this and it adds time but does not interferes with completing the process)
With all that being said, here`s 3 books we have (and occasionally refer to):
Preserve it Naturally (3rd Edition) – The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration – Excaliber
This came as a `gift`with our dehydrator. I particularly like that the photos and references match my dehydrated (although it could easily be used by others). There`s a coding system that shows dehydration times and temperatures that took a while for me to learn but once I found the legend, it became very useful. There is nothing glamorous or romantic about this book and it looks like it`s from 1970 – but it`s a workhorse and it`s lack of fluff makes this a solid guide to find what you need as you need it. It`s a great resource.
How to Dry Foods – Deanna DeLong
A very thorough guide that will take you from beginner to expert by the time you reach the end of the book. I appreciate that it`s well organized by ingredient and includes more updated recipes than what may be in the resource above – but this extra benefit can make finding core information (like temperatures) more difficult to find. A good tool if you lack the confidence or want to be handed recipes that will yield dependable results.
The Dehydrator Bible – Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt, Don Mercer
This one`s an encyclopedia. It`s a good resource for `recipes on the spot`but may be overwhelming if you`re starting out. I like to have it on the shelf in case I`m looking to expand ideas but it`s recipes are so literal (an advantage to many) that I prefer to use this to brainstorm my own ideas from rather than to use it each piece. This could apply to all levels of home preservers but I like it best as an on-demand reference as opposed to a manual.
We`ll also get a better list of recipes and articles here in the future – in the meantime here`s a link to a Google search of a bunch of our articles on dehydrating.
What are other great sites and books out there about dehydrating that you`d like to share?