Sometimes it seems as if the world is full of small appliances. It’s just so tempting to stock up. We covet this or that one because, hey, it looks so darn cool. The challenge, of course, is buying only those you’ll actually use once they’re yours to keep. So how do you choose one from all the options? First, make sure it fits your needs and that you’ve got the space to store it. Even if your new gadget does only one smart thing, if it’s going to get a workout in your home, then it’s a keeper.
Introducing a one-of-a-kind, one-job unit that you’ll love as much as all the dried fruit, dried herbs, jerkys and fruit roll-ups it makes right in your kitchen. It’s the Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator. Talk about a handy way to get healthy foods into your body and reduce waste too (no more chucking 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro just because you craved guacamole one night).
Why you need a dehydrator: If you’re into dried treats, check the packages and you may be shocked by just how loaded they are with preservatives, salt, and sugar. With a machine like this one, you control what’s in your food.
What it is: A lightweight, easy-to-use home food dehydrator that dehydrates fruits, meats, vegetables, herbs, and more! You can even make pet treats.
What makes it special: It’s got a clear cover and five stackable drying trays, so no need to babysit the stuff and rotate the trays. The unit also comes with a mesh sheet for drying herbs, and a special tray for making fruit roll-ups. Other great features include a 48-hour programmable timer with auto shut-off and an adjustable thermostat.
Our take: We’re digging it. Turn it before bed, and voila, wake up to the perfect product every time. So far, we’ve dried a bunch of herbs, made our own dried and ground hot peppers, dried apples, even chicken jerky for the dogs. Next, we’re tackling dried veggies, which will make the perfect on-the-go snack (zucchini chips, anyone?).
Food Dehydrator: 5 Tips for Making Dried Fruits and Veggies
- Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season for best flavour.
- Cut foods the same size, thickness, or shape to ensure even drying.
- Some foods require pre-treatment before drying. Blanching or adding colour protectors will preserve natural colour. Try this natural colour protector: Prepare a solution of equal parts lemon juice and water. Dip pieces of fruit or veggies into the solution and drain.
- Use the drying chart, including in the box as a guideline. Check foods at the minimum drying time on the chart and if not dried to your liking, continue to dry. Fruit should be bendable and slightly soft but not tacky. Apples and bananas and all vegetables should be crisp.
- To prevent rehydration, store dehydrated foods in clean, dry, airtight containers such as resealable plastic bags, plastic containers, or glass canning jars. Dried fruits should keep for up to 1 year while fruits will keep for 6 months. Fruit rolls will keep up to 1 month and jerky 2 months.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 2 lbs beef top round
- 2 cups root beer
- 1 cup whiskey
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp each garlic and chili powder
WHAT YOU DO
1. Place beef in a resealable plastic freezer bag and freeze for 1 hour or until firm enough to slice easily.
2. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove beef from freezer and slice against the grain in to 1/4 inch thick slices.
4. Add beef and marinade to bag, making sure meat is completely covered with marinade.
5. Close bag and refrigerate 8-12 hours.
6. Drain and discard marinade. Pat all slices of beef with paper towels.
7. Place beef slices in a single layer on the first tray, leaving space around each slice for proper drying. Fill trays with remaining beef slices.
8. Stack trays on base with the top tray last.
9. Set the dehydrator to 160 degrees F for 4-8 hours. Start checking beef for doneness at 4 hours and then every 30 minutes after. Jerky is dry when you can bend it and the top cracks but the slice does not break.
10. Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place jerky in a single layer, leaving a small space around each slice.
11. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Pat dry with paper towels before storing in an airtight container.
Buy: Wherever Hamilton Beach appliances are sold. Suggested retail price: $69.99