I’ve been hankering after a food dehydrator for years. Mostly, I’ve got to admit, because it’s a kitchen gadget and, despite what The Meat Eater says, you can’t have too many kitchen gadgets.
The thing is though, what exactly does one do with a dehydrator? Yes, I know you dehydrate food in them, but what? and – more importantly – why? I know raw foodists find them essential for their diet, as I found this out a few years ago when I briefly pondered whether to do a ‘raw food week’ challenge and picked up a raw food recipe book and saw it mostly contained recipes using a dehydrator to make, amongst other things, pizza bases (which led me to briefly ponder whether I wanted a raw pizza, decided I didn’t and put the book down and phoned Papa John’s instead).
Then Vida got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try out one of their appliances; one of which being a food dehydrator. The time had come to release my inner raw foodist, hurrah!
After googling ‘what do I do with a food dehydrator’, I looked at a few websites, got thoroughly confused, so I asked on the Little Vegan Kitchen Facebook Page what people there did with theirs. One reply I particularly liked the sound of was courgette crisps. I did some more googling and found a whole load of recipes with varying drying times ranging from 5 hours to 15 hours, so back I went to the Little Vegan Kitchen and asked how long they usually dry for and was told 24 hours. Oh. That’s a long time. But I was going to make my courgette crisps, no matter how long they took.
Anyway, before I tell you about my courgette crisps, let me tell you about the Vida Food Dehydrator.
The first thing you need to know is that it’s big. I thought food dehydrators were about the size of a shoe box. This is more the size of a post box. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but this is not a small machine, so it’s not going to sit unobtrusively on your kitchen worktop.
I also thought food dehyrators were silent. I don’t know why I thought this but I did and they’re not. They’re not washing machine noisy but you will notice the sound, so my dehydrator has been banished to the conservatory where it can whirr away without disturbing anyone.
As with most kitchen appliances, the instruction manual is useless. Saying that though, you don’t need a manual for this machine, as there is absolutely nothing to working out how to use it: Put on the trays whatever fruit or veg you’re drying, put the lid on top, switch it on, turn the dial to the required temperature and press a button to tell it how many hours you want it to be on for (23 is the maximum but you can just turn it off and start it again if you want it to be on for longer – the instructions do say though not to have it running longer than 72 hours without giving the machine a bit of a rest). So, yeah, you don’t really need a manual, it just seemed a bit odd to get an appliance with no suggested recipes in the manual with which to start you off.
But I already had my suggested recipe from my friends at the Little Vegan Kitchen anyway, so I prepared my courgette crisps and about a day later they were ready and I ate them all in one go, they were that good. I don’t usually like dried fruit or vegetable crisps, so I probably only liked them because I made them, in the way a mother loves her ugly baby, but, hey ho. They didn’t come out properly crispy like a crisp, but I’m assuming the longer you leave them dehydrating, the crispier they get.
You’ll see from the photo above that I lined my trays with baking paper. Some recipes said to do this, some didn’t. I decided to, I don’t know why. I probably wanted to keep the trays clean.
I currently have some cashew, onion and sunflower seed crackers in the dehydrator and I’ll let you know what they turn out like.
The Vida Food Dehydrator is available from ebuyer.com for (at the time of writing) £29.99.
- 2 courgettes, sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- chilli flakes
- Put the courgette slices in a bowl and mix in the olive oil, along with the salt and chilli flakes to taste
- Line the dehydrator's trays with baking paper and lay the courgette slices on, taking care not to overlap them
- Grind some more salt and chilli flakes over the top of the courgette slices
- Dehydrate for 24 hours at 45C