Dehydrated food in recipes for fruit leather, breakfast crumble, beef chili

By on August 6, 2015

dehydrated cranberries (shutterstock)
dehydrated cranberries (shutterstock)

In “The Dehydrator Bible,” readers can learn the best ways to dry foods for their pantry and how to use the items in recipes.

An easy way to use up seasonal fruit and create treats to tuck into school lunches is to make fruit leathers.

“You literally puree the fruit, spread it out (on a dehydrator tray) and you’ve got this wonderful snack,” says Jennifer MacKenzie, a home economist and co-author of “The Dehydrator Bible.”

“They come out uniform and you can do some amazing combinations. So instead of buying those fruit snacks from the grocery store you can make your own.”

Included in the book are strawberry and banana, apple and grape, peach and vanilla or watermelon, mango and lime (recipe follows), among others.

Generally no sweetening is needed unless just a small amount to boost the flavour.

MacKenzie also suggests making vegetable leathers with roasted pumpkin, squash or mushrooms, which are great to simmer into sauces to boost flavour.

Here are some recipes from the book to try. If you don’t have a dehydrator, many dried items can be purchased from bulk stores.

Preparation: In a food processor, puree 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) chopped mango, 250 ml (1 cup) chopped watermelon and 1 lime, peeled, chopped and tough membranes removed, until smooth.

Drying: Spread out to 5-mm (1/4-inch) thickness, as evenly as possible, on a leather sheet or drying tray lined with parchment paper, leaving it slightly thicker around the edges. Dry at 55 C (130 F).

Time: 8 to 10 hours.

Special Instructions: Start checking leather after 6 hours. When top is very firm and edges are easy to lift, carefully peel leather from sheet, flip over and continue drying.

Doneness Test: Leather should be evenly firm, with no visible moist spots, and should still be flexible.

This version of crumble is a little less sweet than a dessert crumble and incorporates dried fruit and grains into a healthy breakfast dish.

It can be baked, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to two days. Reheat, covered in foil, in a 180 C (350 F) oven for about 30 minutes, or reheat individual portions in the microwave on medium (50 per cent) power for two to three minutes.

2-l (8-inch) glass baking dish, greased
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) dried apple slices
75 ml (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground cinnamon
425 ml (1 3/4 cups) unsweetened apple juice, divided
250 ml (1 cup) quick-cooking or large-flake rolled oats
30 ml (2 tbsp) whole-wheat flour
30 ml (2 tbsp) liquid honey or maple syrup
Flavoured yogurt, for serving

In a prepared baking dish, combine apples, cranberries and cinnamon. Pour in 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of the apple juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).

In a bowl, combine oats, flour, honey and remaining apple juice, stirring until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until fruit is hot and bubbling and topping is crispy. Serve hot or warm, with a dollop of yogurt.

Makes 4 servings.

A warming bowl of chili is easy to make at home or on a campsite. This version has a touch of smoky heat from the chipotles and your own dried vegetables and jerky.

Chipotle pepper powder is available at well-stocked spice or bulk food stores and some supermarkets. If you can’t find it, grind a dry chipotle pepper in a spice grinder.

Prep at Home

15 g (1/2 oz) cajun or southwestern beef jerky, broken into small pieces (homemade or store-bought)
50 ml (1/4 cup) dried cooked kidney or black beans
30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped dried tomatoes
15 ml (1 tbsp) dried red or green bell pepper pieces
10 ml (2 tsp) dried onion pieces
2 ml (1/2 tsp) crumbled dried oregano
2 ml (1/2 tsp) chili powder
Pinch chipotle pepper powder
Pinch salt

To Serve
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) water

Prep at Home: In a sealable plastic bag, combine beef, beans, tomatoes, red peppers, onion, oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder and salt. Seal and store at room temperature for up to 1 month.

To Serve: In a saucepan, combine beef mixture and water. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.

Uncover and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Fresh Additions
Replace 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the water with beer.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese or a dollop with sour cream to serve.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: “The Dehydrator Bible” by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt, Don Mercer (Robert Rose Inc.,, 2015).