I’ve got a dehydrator. I didn’t plan on getting one (well, I thought about it a year ago but didn’t do anything about it…) until Susie, aka Gourmet Glow the clean caterer, gave me her one. I asked her if it was small and hideable from my husband. She said yes. It wasn’t.
Since the dehydrator arrived in my flat a week ago, it’s sat there conspicuously in the corner of our open-plan lounge and kitchen. My husband hasn’t mentioned it but I know it irks him every time he comes upstairs. So, after a very hectic week, I decided to use Friday as my admin and ‘bits and bobs’ day and it’s started with some dehydrator experimentation.
Susie got me excited over fruit roll-ups. ‘They’re so easy to make!’ she said. So that’s what I’m starting with. I had planned on smooshing a whole bunch of stuff together and indeed had several variations that I wanted to try; the first being raspberry and pineapple. However, on blending my pineapple, I realised it was quite liquidy and, looking around at all the other fruit I’d bought, realised this would be a huge waste of time and money if it went wrong. I decided to start small and with 2 flavours only – the pineapple and raspberry, and pineapple and micro basil. I’m not a massive fan of pure fruit on its own as even though it’s natural fruit sugars, it’s still sugar and sugar and I don’t go so well together (it exacerbates my eczema – something I discovered whilst trialling The Body Confidence Program). To balance out the sugar, I added in chia seeds, a good source of protein and something which would hopefully also stop my mixture being so runny.
Now, sitting looking at my dehydrator (it’s been on for about 30 minutes now), I’m wondering how this is going to turn out. And I’m not optimistic. My raspberry version has come out a lovely shade of pink, and my micro basil one has come out green. I laid them on silicon baking paper which has now wrinkled slightly and it looks… lumpy. I could never be a bricklayer – my fruit spreads are way too uneven.
The dehydrator Susie gave me was from Andrew James. She didn’t drop off any instructions so I’ve been figuring it out as a I go and turns out (I think), it’s not too complicated. I did wonder, since I’m only using 3 of the 7 trays, whether I should keep all the trays in when I turn it on (I decided yes, mainly because it saves space) and also what level to put the fruit on (I went for the top as I’m lazy and it’s easier to get these out. I’ve had a guess and set it to 50’C and have set the timer for 12 hours. I’m going to check it after 6. I don’t suppose, unlike normal ‘cooking’, you can actually burn things in a dehydrator but trust me, if you can, I will.
**Will update in 6 hours!**
It’s been 6 hours exactly and I’ve stuck my finger in it several times. IT’S STILL WET! Susie tells me to be patient. I’m starting to wondering whether dehydraters are good for me…
**The morning after the night before (approximately 24 hours)**
They’re tacky to touch! Yay! The room also smells sweet and fragrant. Colour-wise, they’ve got a little darker and ‘older’ looking, a bit like dried skin (I guess fruit ‘leather’ is a nicer name). I can’t resist and peel some off (thank goodness they peel – I had visions of having to lick them off the paper!) and share it with my husband and housemate. They both want more and I catch my husband starting a second sheet (no! not until I’ve taken photos!)
I am so impressed. Susie did say that you can’t spread it too thin (when I phoned her up in a panic that my roll-up was dissolving into the baking sheet – it wasn’t, it was just dehydrating) and she was right. Silicon baking sheets are amazing – the last time I tried making flaxseed crackers, I had to eat the paper too as they were all stuck to it. The flavours are strong so I’m thinking next time I’ll add more lemon to them and probably not ‘cook’ them too long as some were so dry they wouldn’t roll at all…
Now I know that I have to a) be patient and b) that it works, I’m going to start looking at new flavours. Ooh! My aim is to be able to make healthy treats that are balanced, yet tasty (ie, that my husband will eat).