What Are We Up To?
In our last episode, we set out to rediscover how to dehydrate food using the oldest Stone Age method – piercing it with a stick and leaving it in the sun and wind to dry. To test, we used sliced tomatoes and apples and whole peaches, all skewered on willow branches and set out on a rack. It was put up and out of reach of marauding creatures (like Roxy, the ever-hungry and curious family dog). Today we check in to see how things went, what we learned, and what we are going to change for the next round.
How Did It Go?
Day 2: We covered Day 1 in our previous post, now it is on to Day 2. Although having a monster heat wave sucks in a lot of ways, when it comes to dehydrating food, brutal heat is your best friend. The picture to the right shows the tomato slices were the first to respond to the heat – shriveling up within 24 hours to look semi-mummified. The apple slices were wrinkling at the edges like old men and the whole peaches were as smooth and taut as Joan Rivers. With this kind of weather, it was clear that it wouldn’t be long before we had dried food, with the exception of the whole peaches.
Day 3: We are all done with the tomatoes . Check out the before and after comparing Day 1 to Day 3. I would be content to store the tomatoes and apples at this stage, but the peaches need some more time.
What Did We Learn and What Will We Change?
- Although this dehydrated fast, drying food Stone Age style is not a set-it-and-forget-it project. Nighttime moisture can cause you to take a step backward if you leave the food out overnight. Next time, the food needs to be brought in daily as soon as evening sets in.
- Bugs are a problem. I caught flies on the food the morning of Day 2. I believe this can be overcome by bringing the food in at night and not setting it out to dry again until the sun is hot the next day. By tending to the food, you can reduce their opportunities to land on it.
- Location, Location, Location. Find the hottest, driest, most inhospitable area you can to dry your food. Not only will the food dry faster if it’s hot, but flies and bugs don’t like Death Valley conditions anymore than we do. They’ll move on to cooler pastures if your food is a hot, isolated area.
- The thinner the better. If you want the food to dry quickly, slice it thin. This is a well known idea, but as you can see with the tomatoes vs. the apples, a thinner slices make a difference.
There are many methods to dehydrating food, some modern, some ancient. While we’re trying the lowest tech way, Experiment for yourself to see if there is a method you prefer. Having the knowledge of several different methods is invaluable, try experimenting today!