My friend Abbey has lent me her Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator for the weekend. This gorgeous beast is the queen of dehydrators. I used to wonder if it was worth the expense or if the excitement around it was mostly hype. I was officially sold when Abbey bought hers (the machine I am borrowing now) and offered me a taste of her first batch through it, peach slices that were truly dry, crisp, and absolutely perfect.
I currently own a much cheaper Nesco 600-watt machine and would never dream of using it to dehydrate anything fleshy or wet. It’s an economical machine if you plan to stick with herbs, some spices, tomato skins, and maybe the odd hot pepper, but the poor thing could not dehydrate a peach to save its life. Believe me, I’ve tried. Wet fruit caramelizes and often burns. It also happens to take days upon days to achieve this less than desired outcome — not the most economical use of electricity. On the other hand, Abbey’s beautifully crisp peach slices were made in the Excalibur overnight. She has since allowed me to try several other delicious food stuffs preserved in her machine, including fruit leathers made with yoghurt and even milk kefir. They were all gorgeous and so much nicer than those I have made in the oven.
And so here I am with this machine for the next few days and a whole world of food dehydration before me. What to make? My first batch of apricot halves are in the machine as I type this. As per the directions in the book that came with the machine, I soaked the pieces in a solution of lemon juice and honey to prevent the fruit from browning. As an early birthday gift, Abbey generously gifted me a big bag of apricots (as well as a few peaches). She picked it locally with Not Far From the Tree, an urban fruit picking/sharing program here in Toronto. Much of the fruit is still a little green so I will get to the rest later in a few days. I hope to pick up some organic peaches at the market to try my hand at peach and lavender fruit leather in the machine. I also have a bounty of newly harvested ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions and garlic from the garden and will likely dry some of those as well for winter storage, although obviously not at the same time as the fruit.
If you have this machine or something similar, I’d love to hear from you. What have you made? Any tips and tricks are much appreciated!
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