07 Jul 2010

Basic Dehydrating

Dehydrating food is not a necessity to following a raw food diet but does give one many more options. 

Sun or air drying food has been done since the beginning of time, mainly as a way of preserving food. Nowadays people tend to use low temperature, electric dehydrators as they are less messy and more convenient than sun drying. Dehydrating is now not only done to preserve food but to "cook" the food at a very low temperature so as to not destroy any of the contained  nurtrients. Many foodstuffs can be dehydrated from excess fruit and vegetables to unleavened bread and fruit leathers.

There are many electric dehydrators on the market, some with adjustable thermostats and others operating at one temperature only. They come in various sizes, styles and prices to suite all tastes.  Two examples are the Nesco American Harvest, an inexpensive model with five trays that don’t have to be rotated and Excalibur Dehydrator which is very large, needs no tray rotation, easy to clean and has a horizontal fan for maximum drying efficiency. Some people prefer to make their own, like Kath Clements, who has given easy to follow details in her article "Description of My Home-Made Dehydrator".         

Always purchase locally grown, organic and ripe fruit and vegetables for dehydrating. Pretreating some fruits preserves their colour, flavour, and nutrients. Citric acid, citrus juice or pineapple juice make an excellent pretreatment. Fruits with high water content, such as citrus fruits, are not suitable for drying. Most vegetables need to be blanched before drying to stop enzyme activity. Fruit leathers can be made with very ripe to over-ripe fruit such as apples, apricots, bananas, peaches, pears and plums. There is no need to add sweetener. Spices can be added for extra dded for flavour. A major problem in drying foods at home is determining if and when the food item is dry. Judging when food is dry requires experience, but keep in mind that it is better to overdry than to underdry. For long term storage, dry fruit leathers until they are no longer sticky.

After foods are dried and before storing, allow 30 minutes to one hour cooling time. In general vegetables are dry when they are brittle, fruits when they feel like leather. Storage area for dried fruit and veggies should be cool, dry, and as dark as possible. The darker and cooler the storage area, the longer the dried foods will last with good quality and nutritive value. To refresh them, when ready to use, soak veggies in hot water and fruit in room temperature water for around one hour. Only refresh what you will be eating that day.

Have fun!

Easy Cookies with Dates
By Jolinda Hackett, About.com Guide

8 dates
1 very ripe banana
approx 1 cup raw flaked coconut

Preparation: You can shop for raw coconut flakes at larger well-stocked health or natural foods stores. Or, open up a coconut and grate it yourself! Cover the dates in water and allow them to sit for at least 25 minutes in order to soften up. Then, remove the pits. Combine the dates (not the water), banana and coconut in a blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Dehydrate at about 110F/43C degrees for around 6-8 hours, or until done. These raw cookies should still be soft and chewy for the maximum yumminess, so don't over dehydrate them!

Essene Bread
In the tradition of the Essenes, a living foods community said to have existed in the Middle East 2,000 years ago, this delicious flatbread is a staple of modern raw cuisine. It’s sprouted, dehydrated and seasoned with herbs and spices

2 cups soft wheat berries
1/4 cup flaxseeds, soaked 15 minutes
1 tsp. sea salt, kelp or Bragg Liquid Aminos

Soak wheat berries in 4 cups water for 6 to 12 hours. Rinse and drain. Stand at 45-degree angle in a screen- or mesh-covered jar. Do not let seeds cover the mouth of the jar. Rinse mornings and evenings until sprouted tails are as long as grain. Grind sprouted wheat berries in food processor or homogenize in juicer. Mix in flaxseeds, salt, kelp or liquid aminos. Split in half and press into round flat crusts no more than 1/2 inch thick on work surface. Dehydrate in dehydrator at 108F/42C degrees or full sun for 12 hours, flip and dry for 1 hour. Or, the bread can be dried in an oven set on "warm" or lowest setting with the door slightly ajar for 8 to 10 hours. The bread should be pliable and not dried hard. Serves 4.

Pear Fruit Roll (A Fruit Leather)

3 pears, coarsely chopped
2 apples, coarsely chopped
3-6 dates, pitted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Powder or 1"/2cm piece of vanilla bean, cut into tiny pieces

PurŽe pears and apples (with seeds and skins - do not peel) in blender, adding a little water only if necessary. Add the next four ingredients and blend well. Pour onto dehydrator trays, lined with Teflex . With the back of a large spoon spread out to 1/8 to 1/4" / 1/4 to 1/2cm thickness. Dehydrate for approx. 12 to 15 hours at 95F/37C, or until fruit peels away from the Teflex sheet easily. This is the fruit leather. Makes 2 sheets approx. 12"x12"/ 30cm x 30cm.

Buckwheat Crackers (yield 24 crackers)
1 1/2 cups sprouted buckwheat groats*
1/2 cup flaxseeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup carrot pulp (leftover from making juice), optional
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsps fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped

Soak the flax seeds in 3/4 cup filtered water for 1/2 hour. Drain any remaining liquid off. Combine the sprouted groats, soaked flaxseeds, olive oil, carrot pulp and garlic.  Process 1/2 of the batter in a food processor until well mixed.  (You can use a blender instead by adding a little liquid to it).  Add the processed batter to the other half of the batter along with the chopped herbs.  Mix well with a spoon or your hands. Coat a dehydrator tray with a small amount of olive oil (best if sprayed on).  With wet hands, shape the mix into nice flat shapes about 1-1/2" / 3cm round and about 1/3" / 1/2cm deep.  Dehydrate at 100F/38C for 6 to 7 hours.  Carefully lift each cracker and turn upside down.  Continue to dehydrate for a few more hours until very dry.  (Note:  if you don’t have a dehydrator, these can be dried in a warm oven on the lowest possible setting.  Open the door periodically to keep the oven from getting hot.  It will probably take considerably less time.) *Sprout the buckwheat groats by soaking for 6 hours in twice as much filtered water.  Drain in a colander.  Rinse twice daily for two days, until little “tails” appear.   Then they are ready to use.  Measure after sprouting.  Can be stored 1 day in the refrigerator before using in the recipe. With a sharp knife cut leather into 2" x 3" / 4cm x 6cmwide pieces. Then roll pieces. 

 "Fried" Mushrooms
From Karen Knowler, the Raw Food Coach  (video link)
This recipe is one of my very favourites. If you love fried mushrooms (the old way) then you will love these even more. They're juicy, more-ish and extremely versatile - that's if you can keep them long enough to add to anything, as usually they go straight away! They're perfect for colder months, providing something "meaty" to put in your salad, wrap or even as a yummy snack! ~ Karen

Organic mushrooms (Portobello, button or similar shaped)
Olive oil
Fresh garlic

Peel or thoroughly scrub a generous supply of organic mushrooms. Slice each mushroom into slices about 5-7mm thick and set aside in a deep bowl. Mix 1-2 cups (depends on amount of mushrooms you have) of olive oil, with juice of 1 lemon, and 2-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped. Pour mixture over mushrooms and coat well. Leave to soak for anything from 10 minutes to 5 hours. Pour off excess oil from the bowl and remove mushrooms. Place them on paper towels to blot off excess oil, taking care to leave some on and also the tiny pieces of fresh garlic. Place mushrooms on Paraflexx sheets (or baking parchment) sheets and dehydrate under 100F/38C for 4+ hours (depends on how 'fried' you would like your mushrooms to look and taste; overnight works great too - I prefer them to dehydrate for at least 10 hours). When they're how you like them (taste-test first!) pour them onto some paper kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil (if any) and keep in a bowl ready for serving, eating or adding to recipes or salads. These can be served as:  A topping, either on its own or with avocado, tomato or anything else which sounds like a good idea at the time. A great addition to a salad. As part of a 'Sunday breakfast'. As part of a filling for any kind of wrap. Pizza topping or even as a snack!

1 comment:

Greenearth said...

Another inspiring post. I learn so much from your sites and your knowledge of food.

Next Wednesday am beginning a new Meme We Can Wednesday and would welcome you to be part of what I am hoping will be an interactive dialogue.