A food dehydrator!
To dry things with, of course!
To be more specific, to help deal with the Monster Mushroom I brought home from foraging. Even after roasting and sauteing, there was still an awful lot of it left. I knew I wanted to try drying some of it, so I spent a couple of days scouring the web for the best way. The same things kept popping up – the oven will dry unevenly, and don’t even think about air-drying in a humid climate.
After some hemming and hawing on my part, (Do I really need this? Will I use it, or will it just take up space in my work room?) my wonderful, decisive husband ordered one for me.
Answer – YES. Yes, I will use this machine. A LOT, I think…
This might be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. The empty trays are loaded with whatever I want to dry. They’re stacked one on top of the other, placed on the base, (lower left corner of the picture) and topped with the fan/heater unit. Set temperature, turn on, and wait the recommended amount of time. Easy-peasy!
The mushrooms needed no preparation other than to be brushed off and cut into pieces that would fit on the trays. Single layer, not touching.
The six trays – four came with the machine, two others ordered separately – held about 4 pounds. A little less than half of the leftover mushroom.
The fan/heater sits on top, and circulates warm air through the trays. The guide that came with the machine said to dry mushrooms at the lowest setting for 2 or 3 hours, then boost it up to 125 for another 8 hours or so.
When the mushrooms are ready, they are brittle enough to snap when you bend them. I put them into airtight jars – yes, that 4 pounds of mushrooms now fits into 2 quart mason jars! They must be stored right away, or they will re-absorb moisture from the air.
As for uses, some of these will be rehydrated for sauces and soups. Some will be ground-up into powder and used to give depth to the flavor of other dishes. Right now, they just look pretty, sitting on my shelf…
And, here’s the picture you’ve all been waiting for… Or, at least, my Nana has…
I’m not putting this one on the ‘about’ page…
A big “Thank You!” to my photographer – James – for shooting most of the pictures today.