Archive for the 'Dehydrating' Category

It helps if you apply a little oil

Posted by on August 3rd 2017 in Dehydrating

There are a couple of important bits here - which oil to use on your banana, and how to apply it. The rest is innuendo-free.

After trying a few oils, I've found that coconut oil is the best option. There are quite a few options available in supermarkets, the best I've used so far is Morrisons Liquid Coconut Oil Blend which has 80% fractionated coconut oil, the rest is sunflower oil and some flavouring. It's cheap, easy to use, and a small bottle lasts for ages - and it's the magic ingredient. Don't be tempted to use the waxy "solid" oil - it's a pig to work with and doesn't yield better results. During the drying process most of the oil is driven off, leaving only a hint of coconut which lets the banana taste come through really well. As a side benefit, it makes the house smell nice during the drying phase.

The oiling method is quite simple, the main thing is to get full coverage of your banana using the smallest possible amount of oil. Peel the over-ripe bananas (if they are starting to blacken that's a good thing) and use a brush or clean fingers to apply the tiniest amount of oil to the surface of them. Leave them until the oil has soaked in, which usually takes about 10 minutes tops - if it takes any longer you've used too much oil.

Of course, the skins and any bad bits go into one of the compost bins to feed next year's spuds. Nothing's wasted.

 

Peeled

 

Oiled

 

After that, use a chopping knife to cut the bananas into suitably sized/shaped chunks. I prefer angled cuts because having an overhanging "lip" on the chunks helps when peeling them off the drying sheet during the drying process - more on that later.

 

Chopped

 

Put the chunks onto drying sheets in the dehydrator trays. Nowadays we use proper silicone sheets but baking parchment sheets work just as well. Avoid using greaseproof paper - it tears and leaves bits stuck to the chunks. Don't be tempted to oil the sheets, the chunks will stick hard and will be pulled apart when it's time to peel them off to turn them over. In theory, after the drying process has started, the oil helps a skin to form on the uncut surface. The soaked-in oil then has to migrate through the inside, forcing the internal water out of the oil-free cut faces.

Now you should put the kettle on and make yourself a well-deserved cuppa while leaving the trays uncovered until the chunks just start to blacken, as cut bananas do. 10 - 20 minutes should be enough, much depends on how over-ripe they are and how warm the room is.

 

Blackening

 

After that, stick the trays in the dehydrator at about 70C for 12 hours, re-ordering the stack every so often to ensure that they each get equal amounts of heating and drying.

I'll post again when that bit's finished.

This week I’ll mostly be inserting bananas…

Posted by on August 2nd 2017 in Dehydrating

... into our dehydrator.

Earlier this year, after stumbling across the magic ingredient needed to make truly excellent dried bananas which are neither hard nor soft nor burned nor crumbly nor sticky, I'd made a few small batches to find the best setup for our latest dehydrator and the best dosing of oil. I'd been consuming the output ever since, as quick snacks and as walking-fuel, and it was becoming clear that I'd need to make more fairly soon.

This evening saw us at Asda doing the weekly shopping, and by strange chance they had bags of shelf-reject bananas at just the right level of over-ripeness, all on offer at one-third the normal price. Never one to walk away from a bargain without due consideration, I swung this pile of 36 for the stupidly-low price of just £1.54:

16 of them are already prepped and in the machine, another 16 will be fed in when there is room for them. The remaining four were perfects and are now in the fruit-bowl for general consumption.

I'll post a few more pics of the method and the product when they're a bit further along.

More Risotto

Posted by on November 30th 2008 in Dehydrating

Last time we went shopping I nabbed a small pack of mixed fish from the "nearly out-of-date" shelf at the local supermarket, it seemed just right for knocking out another batch of dried food. The pack contained 4oz each of salmon, cod and smoked haddock, all in good condition. During a spare half-hour this morning I used it to make another variant of fish risotto, I had to adjust the standard recipe as follows:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped >>> 1 larger onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stock cube (veg or fish) >>> 4 level tsp stock powder
  • 0.85L / 1.5 pints boiling water >>> 2 pints
  • 0.25kg / 9oz risotto rice (risotto, arborio and carnaroli are best, long-grain will do at a push but the results aren’t as good, any other rice just doesn’t work) >>> 12oz
  • 0.25kg / 9oz smoked fish, skinned and cut into chunks >>> 12oz as detailed above
  • 1 large cupful of frozen peas >>> added 1/3 cup runner beans
  • large knob of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt (optional)
  • Some freshly-ground black pepper (optional)
  • Cooking-times were extended by roughly 20% each

It's now in the dehydration stage, filling the kitchen with a wonderful hunger-inducing aroma. There should be enough for 4 large meals.

 

Bacon Risotto

Posted by on May 7th 2007 in Dehydrating

Here’s a variation on that easy risotto recipe. The process is the same, it’s just the ingredients and the order of addition that have changed:

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 stock cube
850ml / 1.5 pints boiling water
250g / 9 oz risotto rice (risotto, arborio, carnaroli are best, long-grain will do at a push but the results aren’t as good, any other rice just doesn’t work. I’ve been using dirt-cheap 10 oz packs of “Italiamo” Risotto Carnaroli bought from Lidl – these packs have extra bits of veg. etc. in them, to lend a bit of variety)
250g / 9 oz rindless bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 large cupful of frozen peas
large knob of butter
1 pinch of salt (optional)
Some freshly-ground black pepper (optional)

Nuke it as follows:

Put the onion, the garlic, the stock cube and a ½ pint of boiling water in a large microwaveable bowl and stir well. Cover (cling-film is OK for this, or use a casserole dish with a lid) then microwave on High for 3 minutes.

Stir in the rice, the bacon and another ½ pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 5 minutes, then stir it again, then nuke it for yet another 5 minutes.

Stir in the frozen peas and the last ½ pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 4 minutes.

Check that the rice is cooked (nice and soft), if it isn’t, another 1 minute of cooking should sort it out.

Leave the bowl to stand for 1-2 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed, then stir in the butter. Add the salt and pepper if desired, and stir it all up.

Now weigh your creation and record the result.

You should dehydrate the food immediately to prevent bacterial growth in the rice. Drying usually takes about 8 hours.

When dry, weigh it again to calculate how much water has been lost, this is the amount that’s needed for rehydration.

After you’ve bagged it, freeze it. I divvy it up to make 3 or 4 bagged meals.

Fish Risotto the easy way

Posted by on February 25th 2007 in Dehydrating

Who says that microwave meals are crap? This is a really good recipe for healthy, tasty and filling food - it’s easy to prepare, quick to cook, dries well and rehydrates fast. It’s one that I’ve adapted from the BBC Good Food magazine, just thought that I would mention that before Aunty Beeb and her publishers come knocking on the door brandishing writs! Anyway, ingredients are as follows:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stock cube (veg or fish)
  • 850ml / 1.5 pints boiling water
  • 250g / 9 oz risotto rice (risotto, arborio and carnaroli are best, long-grain will do at a push but the results aren’t as good, any other rice just doesn’t work)
  • 250g / 9 oz smoked fish, skinned and cut into chunks (cod or haddock are recommended, but I’ve tried pollack and mackerel and they work too, I’ve yet to try a mix of fish but that’s on the cards)
  • 1 large cupful of frozen peas
  • large knob of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt (optional)
  • Some freshly-ground black pepper (optional)

Nuke it as follows:

Put the onion and the garlic in a large microwaveable bowl, add the stock cube and ½ a pint of boiling water. Stir it up, cover it (cling-film is OK for this, or use a casserole dish with a lid) then microwave it on High for 3 minutes.

Stir in the rice and another ½ a pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

Stir in the fish, the frozen peas and the last ½ pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 4 minutes.

Check that the rice is cooked (nice and soft), if it isn’t, another 1 minute of cooking should sort it out.

Leave the bowl to stand for 1-2 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed, then stir in the butter. Add the salt and pepper if desired, and stir it all up.

You should dehydrate it immediately to prevent bacterial growth in the rice. Drying usually takes about 8 hours. After you’ve bagged it, freeze it.

According to the blurb, this lot makes 4 servings as a standard meal. I divvy it up to make 3 x 125g bagged meals.

Approximate dietary content for the whole lot:

1292 kcalories, 80g protein, carbs 224g, fat 16g, satfat 8g, fibre 12g, salt 12.4g.

 

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