Growing up in my teens I remember the wonders of home dried snacks. Mom would corner the market on bananas and we’d have sweet crunchy banana chips. Next thing you know apples on our trees would be ready and out comes the handy dandy corer peeler machine. The homemade solar dryer that my brother Clay made at Woodshop would be out and ready to take on the warmth of the Indian Summer in the Autumn. It would yield best back to school snacks ever.
In other countries, the drying is more out in the open with racks of small fish drying in the salt spray and sun. Garlic hung to keep and use later. However, no other place seemed to have my Mom’s passion for dehydrated little snack items for her kids.
A couple of years ago I had to retire that childhood dryer. I made my own out of wood, but alas, after a 5 or more seasons and a couple of “OH NO it is raining!” the dryer lid blue off and the screws pulled out. Time to retire that. I did have a small dryer (up for sale now), that was great for long high heat, but didn’t have a fan. I would be able to dry Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes in those little round trays.
So when my last wood box said sayonara, I thought I would take the next step up and get an electric one with a fan and temp settings. Low and behold, it also blended with my desire to buy USA when possible. Not only that, but Excalibur is a California company!
Few neat features are the BPH free trays so no plastics sucking into your family’s food. Also the availability for silpat mats for doing fruit roll ups or more gooier food options. Oh yes, let’s not forget 9 trays to load this baby up.
My first test was our chocolate mint that grows in the garden and is taking over. I cut it to the quick and in a few short hours I had tea ready for the winter chilly days.
So in combination with my new mandoline I made even drying with zucchini & peaches. My daughter came one evening with a bowl full of apples from their tree processed through that handy dandy apple peeler corer device from yore and overnight dried to perfection apple chips for her children to enjoy. Glorious that my grandchildren are enjoying the simple pleasures I did growing up.
Now, it is early September and my Paste Tomatoes are starting to ripen. When I have enough I’ll hand slice those and dry in the Excalibur. Those I vacuum pack in smaller batches for use in soups or spaghetti/marinara sauces. I could go the whole nine yards and even pack them in olive oil like they do at the store for use in Lamb Meatballs.
My next idea is to dry potatoes, carrots, celery greens and over grown parsley to mix with with minced dried onions & garlic to make a nice dried soup base. Hmmmm, maybe include some dried mushroom slices too? What a great way to take some time away from the boob tube to set aside good healthy food for yourself and your family.