Food Dehydration

18 11 2014

Capt’n and I had talked for ages about dehydrating food for the boat. For us, there are many benefits to dehydrating food. Dehydrated food lasts a lot longer than fresh food, which is good for sailing long passage or if we are in remote areas with no access to stores. Dehydrated food takes up a lot less space than their hydrated counterpart. This is a big advantage since storage space is at a minimal on a boat. Dehydrated food is expensive. Who doesn’t love some dehydrated apples or pineapples? If you go to the store you will find that dehydrated foods are pretty costly, and they also may have sugar or preservatives added to the fruit. In the end, there may actually be very little “fruit” ingredient at all.

However, there is a problem with dehydrating food on the boat. Namely we don’t have a dehydrator. I have read about dehydrating food using an oven. I believe I would have to run the oven about 12 hours for each batch of food. We have a propane oven and the cost of having the oven on for 12 hours plus the heat the oven would bring in the boat made this option impossible. Luckily we were discussing our dehydrating idea to some people at church who own a dehydrator and graciously let us borrow it for two weeks.  So two weeks this summer I did nothing but buy food, prep food, dehydrate food, and package food. I was so thankful to use this dehydrator but also glad to return it. I didn’t realize dehydrating took so much work.

IMG_3221

The dehydrator we used was a Nesco Professional Food and Jerky Dehydrator (http://www.nesco.com/products/Dehydrators/Dehydrators/FD-75PR-5-Tray-Snackmaster-Pro-Food-Dehydrator/). This dehydrator is a circular style dehydrator that comes with five trays. Our friends bought additional trays and I think there were nine trays in total. Overall, I was pleased with this dehydrator. The dehydrator did its job, meaning the food became dehydrated. I did have to baby the dehydration process a little bit. The dehydrator fan is at the top of the dehydrator so naturally the food on the upper trays would dry out faster than the food on the lower trays. In addition, the food closer to the center would dry out faster than the food on the edge of the trays. So a few times during the dehydrating process I would rotate the trays and move the food around from the middle to edge of each tray.

IMG_3220

The dehydrator does take up a bit of space and space is another thing we don’t quite have a lot of on a boat. Capt’n rigged up an extension cord to the cockpit and I put the dehydrator in the cockpit for the two weeks of dehydration. If we didn’t have the dehydrator in the cockpit I don’t know if I could have dehydrated because I would not have counter/prep space in the galley.

Prepping the food was also a time consuming process. I say time consuming because when you have a three year old and a six month old anything that takes more than 10 minutes is time consuming. I would have to wash, core, peel, slice, cut pounds and pounds of fruit and vegetables to dehydrate. I would go to the produce store every other day to stock up on fresh produce. As for veggies, I also went the route of buying frozen vegetables to save time.

All in all we dehydrated the following fruit and vegetables (I forget the volume of each):

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Apple

Pineapple

Strawberry

Corn

Pepper (Capsicum)

Broccoli

Bean

Pea

Spinach

Kale

Asparagus

Carrot

IMG_3204IMG_3196

After we dehydrated the fruit and veggies we vacuum sealed them to retain freshness.  We labeled the contents of each bag and the date that we vacuum sealed the dehydrated produce.

I am not an expert at dehydrating or rehydrating the food, so tried to cook meals using the dehydrated veggies. I made a stir fry using the dehydrated vegetables (and rice). I did not tell Capt’n that I used dehydrated veggies. After the meal I told him and he said that the veggies rehydrated nicely. I also used some of the veggies in soups.

As for the fruit, I have always loved dehydrated fruit so it was actually hard for me not to eat it all while I was dehydrating them. I love the way they apples and watermelon turned out.

IMG_3210IMG_3215

Although this project was a lot of work and wasn’t cheap, it was well worth the effort knowing we have a small stock of dehydrated produce for future sailing voyages.

Advertisements




Cooking on a Boat: Making Pickles

23 04 2013

For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know that I am not much of a cook. I don’t find pleasure in baking a cake or cooking a meal from scratch. However, I do love great food. I love to eat great food….so I basically forced myself to learn how to cook so I could eat yummy food. Living on a boat adds a whole new element to cooking and baking. My powerful propane stove and oven has two temperatures: hot and hotter. I started using cookware that I had never heard of before (what is a pressure cooker anyway?) I even became quite proficient in kneading bread (and even have Capt’n in Training participate). 

Well one of the most frustrating things about food and boat life is the actual food shopping.  If we need to go shopping and we are at a port, I cannot be picky as to where I can purchase my food. I can’t bargain shop, cut coupons, go to my local Trader Joes, etc…I am also limited to the brands that I can buy. As someone who does not like to eat any foods with preservatives, I am sometimes stuck between three options: eat the food with preservatives, don’t eat that particular food, or make my own. Which leads me to day’s blog topic: making pickles.

I love dill pickles. But most of the dill pickles in the grocery stores have preservatives. So one day I decided that I would try to make my own. I was pleased at how easy it was to make and how yummy they tasted. The other great thing is that you don’t need any sort of canning equipment, so I was able to make them from the confines of my small boat galley. Now I can’t remember where I put my recipe, so measurements may not be exact – you will have to play around with it.

 

Ingredients:

Fresh pickling cucumbers, washed and free from blemishes

3 cups of water (purified or bottled water is best)

1/2 teaspoon (maybe more?) of non iodized salt. The only non iodized salt I had on hand was Trader Joes Pink Himalayan Salt. 

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 Tablespoon fresh dill, diced

sprinkle of chili flakes

Mason jar or used (but clean) sauce container

 

Image

 

1. Wash and clean pickling cucumbers. I used three cucumbers and they filled the container I used. Make sure you remove the blemishes if there are any.

Image2. Slice cucumbers however you want. I made spears and had great texture.

3. Boil water and add salt.

Image4. Dice dill and garlic.

Image5. Place cucumbers, garlic, dill (and chili flakes for spice) in your glass jar. After water boiled and has cooled, pour water and salt solution into glass jar. Tighten jar and put in fridge for one week.

 

Enjoy