My husband and I talked for years about moving to a property in the country. After discovering a home on a few acres, on a quiet country road, we finally took the plunge about a year and a half ago, and I am so glad we did. It’s been amazing.
One of the things I love about our new property, aside from the peacefulness, is that we have lots of room for gardens – perennial gardens, rock gardens, and of course a nice big vegetable garden.
During the first spring here, we built a raised bed vegetable garden in a nice sunny spot. I planted an assortment of our favourite and easy-to-grow vegetables, including green and yellow beans, zucchini, squash, peas, beets, lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, cucumbers and lots of tomatoes.
Well, with all that sunshine, wouldn’t you know that garden just kept on growing, and producing more and more vegetables. It was very gratifying, and we certainly enjoyed eating so many delicious fresh veggies out of our garden. However, I must admit it did get a little overwhelming at times, trying to use up or preserve the vegetables quickly enough.
Just when I thought we were going to be overrun by tomatoes and zucchini, the pear tree decided to give us more pears than you could ever imagine could come from one tree. They just kept coming, and coming. And coming.
We ate pears raw. We gave them away. I made pear muffins, pear cake, pear crisp and canned about 10 different variations of pears including sauces, spreads, jam, salsa and diced and sliced pears. It was exhausting!
If only I had a food dehydrator last year…
A food dehydrator allows you to dry foods to make things like dried fruit, jerky, fruit rolls and vegetable chips. You can also use them to dry herbs, make crackers and so much more. They’re a wonderful tool for making healthy snacks, preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables from your garden or farmer’s market and even for making lightweight dehydrated meals to take hiking or camping.
Hamilton Beach recently sent me their Food Dehydrator (32100C) to test out, and I’m enjoying experimenting with it. I’m definitely looking forward to using it a lot this summer and fall to help me manage what I hope will be another bumper crop of fruits and vegetables.
The Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator has the following features:
- 48 hour timer with auto shutoff and clear lid so you can easily check food
- Adjustable digital thermostat that lets you adjust drying temperature (100-160° F)
- Continuous airflow provides even drying
- Five stackable drying trays and powerful 500 watts
- Includes one fine-mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs and one solid sheet for making fruit rolls
While I’ve never been a huge fan of eating dried fruits, I have to admit that I did enjoy eating the dried fruits we’ve made with the dehydrator so far – and my daughter and husband LOVED them. So far we’ve tried dehydrating quite a few different kinds of fruit, including bananas, apples, kiwi, strawberries and of course, pears (which were actually our favourite.) My daughter has enjoyed helping me get the fruits ready to go into the dehydrator, and the dried fruits never last long once they’re ready. We sliced ours for snacking, but you could also chop them into smaller pieces if you wanted to make trail mix of have some to throw into cereal or granola for breakfast.
I also used up some extra kale I had on hand to make some kale chips, which disappeared rather quickly. I’m planning to experiment with some different seasonings on my next batch of kale chips and I can’t wait to try making these dill pickle zucchini chips this summer.
The dehydrator is very easy to use. It comes with a guide that tells you how to prepare the fruits or vegetables (eg.how thinly to slice), what temperature to set the dehydrator to (typically fruits are 235°F and veggies are 225°F) and an estimated time range for dehydration. Some fruits, like apples and bananas, need a quick dip in some water and lemon juice to preserve their colour before going in to the dehydrator, and some vegetables and berries need to be blanched quickly in boiling water for a minute or two. Others don’t need any preparation at all. All of this information is provided in the guide.
What I love about the Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator:
- It’s a great way to make healthy snacks from wholesome ingredients. The dried fruit you make yourself is free of additives and preservatives, unlike what you would buy from the store, and in my opinion they taste much better.
- It’s easy to use. Once you put the food into the dehydrator you set the temperature and timer and let it do the rest. The continuous air flow provides even drying to all levels, so you don’t need to rotate the trays or do anything other than wait.
- It will be very useful for preserving extra fruits, vegetables and herbs from the garden, and is a less labour intensive method than canning. If you’ve ever tried canning on a hot summer day, you’ll also appreciate the fact that this won’t heat up your kitchen!
Of course, you don’t need to have your own garden to make good use of a food dehydrator. You can take advantage of lower prices on seasonal produce in the grocery stores or farmer’s market to make some inexpensive and healthy snacks.
A couple of things I should mention:
- Dehydrating food is not a quick process. Most fruits and vegetables take at least 8 hours, with some taking much longer. Fruits like cherries and plums can take more than 24 hours.
- I found that the suggested times given in the guide for dehydrating various fruits were not long enough at times. I did try to slice the fruit to the specified thickness, but some things took several hours longer than estimated (especially bananas.) You’ll want to give yourself plenty of extra time, just in case.
- The fan on the dehydrator will be running continuously during the drying process. It’s not super loud, but I did find it a bit distracting to have on in the kitchen for so long. I ended up setting up the dehydrator in either the garage or a table in the basement most of the time.
Would you like to try dehydrating your own food?
Hamilton Beach is giving one lucky Tweenhood reader a chance to win a Food Dehydrator of their own, valued at $74.99 CDN.
Enter below for your chance to win, and be sure to tell us what food you would try dehydrating first.
Giveaway starts June 9th and ends July 4th, 2016 at 11:00 pm EST. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents 18+ only, excluding Quebec. A winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. The winner will be required to answer a skill-testing question and have 48 hours to respond, otherwise another winner will be chosen. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the prize sponsor.
I was provided with a Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator for purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small amount if you make a purchase.
About Kathy Sima
Kathy is a blogger and freelance writer and mom of two teens who gave up her career as a financial advisor when her son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When it comes to parenting, Kathy truly believes there is strength in numbers and knows that sharing stories and strategies with other parents has helped keep her sane (so far!)