December can be such a busy month! I’ve been juggling two jobs while squeezing in time for getting into the holiday spirit and getting my Christmas shopping done. This year I bought my gifts with a theme in mind: hand-made and local. I bought lots of gifts at Market Collective, which is a fun event in Calgary that hosts local artists selling their creations. I also decided to make a couple things in my dehydrator, and I’d like to share them with you today.
I got these recipes from a book called Dry It – You’ll Like it! by Gen Macmaniman. I received it for Christmas one year, and it is a great guide for drying fruits, veggies, and herbs, and includes instructions for building your own dehydrator.
Dehydrating is fun, and a great way to save produce that is in season, or that may go bad before you have a chance to use it fresh. At Thanksgiving I dehydrated all the extra fresh herbs I had: sage, parsley, and thyme. I also made cran-apple fruit leather, and go absolutely cuckoo for dehydrated apples and bananas. In my opinion, having a dehydrator is perfect for anybody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, and who is looking to incorporate more raw foods in their diet. Check out this recipe for rosemary seed crackers from a previous post.
Please note that if you are considering buying a dehydrator, look at product reviews before purchasing, as the first one I had lasted only a month past the warranty date, and it looks like I’m not the only one that happened to. It’s also great to buy a dehydrator that you can control the temperature.
So, back to my little Christmas project. I made soup stock and date-nut chewies to include in my gifts to my family. Here is what I did:
Veggie Soup Stock
Yields around 20 tablespoons of powder, or 20 cups of stock (when added to 1 cup of boiling water per 1 tablespoons of stock)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
4 celery stalks, cut into sticks (I also dehydrated the leaves)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup spinach
Note: You may use a wide variety of vegetables. The book suggests cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, green beans, horseradish, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, peppers, spinach, tomato, or watercress. I chose what I thought would go together nicely.
I placed all the vegetables in one layer on dehydrator sheets. I have four sheets, and all these veggies took two rounds of dehydrating to complete. They were dehydrated at 135*F for about 6 hours. Time may vary depending on how thick the vegetables are, how crowded the trays are, and how juicy the vegetables were to begin with. I removed the vegetables that felt completely dry, and continued to dehydrate the ones that were still damp. You can add more vegetables once there is room on the trays. To check the vegetables, remove the heat source and let the veggies cool down first. If it feels dry, it probably is.
Next, I placed all the dehydrated vegetables in a high-speed blender and blended until the vegetables were a powder. This took a couple minutes of blending. Be sure to let the blender rest before opening it, as the powder is very fine and smokes into the air.
I divided the stock into two plastic baggies of 10 tbsp each, and added the keep-dry packets that come with sushi and other dry foods. I didn’t want the stock powder to be exposed to any moisture.
I wrote the following instructions on each baggie: “Mix 1-2 tbsp of stock with 1 cup of boiling water and let rest for about a minute. Add ground flaxseed to thicken, if desired. Use in soups, stews, and gravy.”
Voila! Home-made powdered vegetable stock! Because it’s dry, it’ll last for a long time. Store it away from sunlight and moisture.
3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Macintosh apples (or another kind of apple), cut into pieces, skin on
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup raw almonds (recipe called for walnuts)
In my high-speed blender I mixed the oil, maple syrup, apples, and vanilla extract until smooth. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients and blended until smooth. The original recipe indicates that you should use ground oats and sunflower seeds, but I did not do this because of how powerful my blender is. Plus, I thought some chunks would be OK.
Next, I spread the mixture out on two dehydrator sheets, making them pretty thick (about 1/2 inch). I dehydrated them for around 6 hours, then cut them into small squares, separated them from each other, and continued to dry them for another 8 hours.
These chewies are a great snack that resembles an energy ball. I was expecting it to be more candy-like or cookie-like, but it definitely tastes like a healthy snack. The first one I tried, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure if I should give them as gifts, but after having a few more, the taste grew on me. This recipe made a lot, so I’m glad they turned out!