Dehydrating

Humans like to complicate things. We take perfectly edible food, add toxic chemicals, push it all through soul-less machinery and then let it sit in even more toxic packaging sometimes for years before we eat it. We complicate things so much (and so often!) that simple solutions seem too good to be true. Impossible even. But sometimes, they’re just duh-obvious, and, oh yes, easy too.

Americans throw away 100 million tons of edible food every year while as many as 1 in 6 Americans struggle with getting enough to eat. If that doesn’t spoil your appetite, then think of the tireless work of America’s farmers, or the impossible suffering of the billions of animals forced to live in filth and captivity for those .99 cent Whopper Jr.’s that end up in landfills. Our food system is nothing short of a travesty—but we can make changes. Easy changes. One just happens to be using a food dehydrator.

Dehydration is a low-impact form of preservation that can turn your almost-overripe fruits and vegetables into myriad different and super healthy snacks. We throw away 25 percent of our produce in this country every year because they rot or spoil before we eat them. But dehydration can extend their shelf life for months, not to mention keeping you away from those toxic processed snacks. And you don’t need to be a five-star chef in order to use one, either.

Food dehydrators are relatively inexpensive and super easy to use (as in, turn the knob to the temperature setting). Usually while you’re sleeping, virtually any fruit can be dried to either a soft apricot or prune state, or crisped like banana or apple chips and ready to take with you as a healthy, yummy, waste-free snack.

Vegetables can be “chipped,” too. Beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots coated in olive oil, your favorite seasonings and dried overnight or until crisp are incredibly flavorful and healthy. Dehydrated tomatoes can make the best pesto sauce you’ve ever tasted.

If you’re a regular juicer, save your veg pulp, mix with soaked chia seeds, spices and create the yummiest and healthiest veggie cracker you’ve ever tasted.

Have a fruit tree in your yard that’s popping? You can puree those goodies and make a delectable fruit leather (berries, cherries, apples and stone fruits work best).  

Herbs and spices can be dehydrated for adding to dishes or making into teas.

And there are tons of cookbooks and recipes available online if you’re interested in more info.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Vegan Feast Catering