Every year around this time, I make a commitment to pack healthier snacks for the kids when they go back to school. It’s easy and exciting to do for the first couple of weeks of the school year, and then slowly but surely we slip back into the trap of pre-packaged snacks. This is actually quite frustrating for me because I’ve done pretty well at eliminating packaged food everywhere else in our house. We no longer use soup from a can, or any pre-mixed dinners in a box, and the veggie drawer in our fridge is overflowing, but we can’t get our act together when it comes to snacks. When I found out that the appliance I’d be testing this month as part of the Hamilton Beach Social Kitchen program was a food dehydrator my first instinct was to try to make a papad recipe (then I started thinking about vadian and kasoori methi), but just this once, I gave the desi foods a break and decided to work on the school snacks issue. Since I’ve never used a dehydrator before, I started with very basic foods like; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, banana chips, and fruit leathers; I’ve made mango and blueberry so far. (If you haven’t caught on already I’m trying to banish the fruit roll-ups and Dora snacks from my house.)
For some reason I thought that dehydrating fruit was going to be more complicated than it was, but the Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator makes it ridiculously simple. What I love about this machine is that it’s pretty compact and easy to store, it has five trays you can use all at once and don’t have to rotate, and it has a timer with auto shut-off.
So far I haven’t ventured out of the fruits realm, but I’m already in love. If you decide to get a Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator (which you totally should), here are some tips I’ve picked up about dehydrating fruits:
- Give yourself time. Some fruits can take 14-16 hours to dry and I did not realize that the first time I tried to make snacks for a road trip! The good news is, you don’t have to do anything while the fruit is drying – no flipping, no rotating trays.
- Wash the fruit and let it dry before dehydrating. If you are using soft berries like raspberry however, just wash, shake off the excess water, and put them right in the machine.
- Spray fruits that might discolour with a water lemon juice solution (I did one part lemon juice, 3 parts water) before dehydrating.
- Follow directions for blanching certain fruits. I did not do that with my first batch of blueberries and they didn’t dehydrate properly.
- Store your dehydrated foods properly in air tight containers. Don’t let your hard work go to waste.
Now the big question is, what did the kids think of dehydrated fruit? Complete honesty; they loved the strawberries and blueberries, and liked the mango fruit leather. I think they would have loved the mango leather if I had chosen in season and sweet mangoes. The problem is those store bought fruit rolls are loaded with sugar, so the ones I made at home didn’t seem sweet enough to them. The husband and I on the other hand loved them!
The dehydrator is a hit, but also a gentle reminder for me that I need to keep working on weaning them off of all the sugar laden “foods” they eat, and mamas new favourite kitchen appliance will definitely help with that.
My next experiment with the food dehydrator will probably be veggies. How great would it be to dehydrate local in season veggies and have them on hand for soup and pasta sauces in the winter. I wonder if I could use dehydrated veggies to make sabzi (vegetable curries) too?
Want to learn more about the Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator? Check out these awesome posts from my fellow #HBSocialKitchen ambassadors; Small Batch Beef Jerky, Dehydrate All the Things, and Sensational Snacks for the Cottage. Want to win your own food dehydrator? Enter below – contest is open to Canadian residents only.
This post is sponsored by Hamilton Beach Canada. In exchange this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.