Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

I love my dehydrator. It is right up there with my blender as my favorite kitchen appliance. It really helps to reduce food waste and increases the shelf life of many foods. Here's how I use it to save money:

When I find an amazing deal on produce, I dehydrate some of the bounty. Sometimes I find packages of peppers for $.40/lb, and I'll buy 10 pounds. Some are used fresh or frozen, but I dehydrate a lot of them to toss into soups or to add to casseroles.

Sometimes foods I enjoy come in packages that aren't practical for my family size, and nothing is worse than having fresh berries go bad before you can eat them. I enjoy mushrooms, but Trucker is allergic to them. When I buy a package of mushrooms, I leave out just enough for me to use in a couple days, and dehydrate the rest to use for later. Dehydrated berries make a delicious snack, or an excellent addition to trail mix or granola.

I make my own tea. When I find wild plants such as red clover or violets that make excellent tea, I dehydrate them to use to make my own tea blends. I also dehydrate some herbal teas such as dandelion leaf.

I dehydrate surplus garden produce when I get a glut. When a big harvest comes in, I try to freeze as much of it as I can (and this year I'm learning to can!), but there's only so much room in the freezer. Dehydrating is a great way to store some of the surplus to use in winter.

I use dehydrated fruit as an alternative to candy. We used to buy boxes of candy (such as Gobstoppers or nerds) to snack on, especially for road trips. But once we tried home-dehydrated apples, we kicked the candy habit. I get free apples (from family trees), and save the money I would have otherwise spent on candy. It's also better for the teeth and waistline.

It's super convenient. When I use dehydrated items, they are already cut up and ready to use (other than rehydrating for some recipes). When I have to work but want dinner ready as soon as I get home, I put stock, shredded meat and an assortment of dehydrated veggies into the slow cooker, put it on low and go. It's quicker than canned soup, and it's cheaper and tastier!

Originally published on: http://alifebeyondmoney.blogspot.com/2013/05/why-i-love-my-dehydrat...

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