Saturday

Dehydrating

Finally I’m playing with dehydrating food and have started with flax crackers. I found two recipes for the crackers, one from the book “Rawsome” by Brigitte Mars which is also available on the web, and the other supplied through a Youtube video from Karen Knowler, “The Raw Food Coach”. I ended up making crackers that combined ideas from both recipes.
I generally halve the quantities mentioned in recipes, particularly with the first attempt since I might not like it but also to avoid a glut. I liked Brigitte Mars’ idea of soaking the flax seeds, and then draining the excess water. Then I proceeded with Karen Knowlers’ ideas and my own and blended the flax mix with half cups of tomatoes, capsicums and alfalfa sprouts with the juice of half a lemon. I tasted the mix a couple of times just to make sure I liked it, and then spread it into a greased oven dish.
I don’t have a dehydrator so I dried the crackers in the oven. My oven has settings of Low, then increments starting at 100, so I can’t be sure what the temperature is if I set the oven below 100 (unless, of course, I use an oven thermometer which I know I have in a drawer somewhere – note to self to use it next time…). Since I had decided to trial the crackers late in the day, I set the oven at 100 degrees Celsius as I didn’t want to dry the crackers in the oven overnight. I knew this temperature would be too high for the resulting crackers to be considered raw but at least I could see how the crackers turn out.
I’m not keen on using either the oven or a dehydrator to dry food as both use a lot of electricity over an extended time – sometimes up to 24 hours. After reducing my electricity usage in my home and taking on solar panels, I’m not thrilled by anything that increases the number of kilowatts on my bill.
After 75 minutes, I flipped the cracker mix onto a plate and back into the oven and flipped it a few more times before taking it out and separating the individual crackers. Even having set the temperature at 100 degrees Celsius, the flax crackers were in the oven for 4 hours total. I couldn’t leave them in any longer as it was getting too late. They were a little moist on the inside, but that didn’t worry me.

The next day, I tried honey on a flax cracker and it was good – crunchy and chewy at the same time and not at all moist. I ate another cracker with my lunch.
I think the crackers finished drying in the fridge. An article in a recent Sunday Mail mentioned that beef can be dry aged in the refrigerator, so I googled it and found a web page that described the process. I do wonder whether foods can be dried in the fridge rather than the oven or dehydrator. However, after a few days in the fridge, these crackers were no longer crunchy which answers my question.
I was out at a local market this morning and sampled a flax seed cracker that seemed to me to be similar to Brigitte Mars’ cracker – and was dry and crunchy - so now I know what I’m aiming for.
Since I don’t like the idea of drying food in the oven or dehydrator, my next best alternative is solar drying. This is the first time that I’ve called it “solar drying” even to myself after having googled “solar dehydrator” a number of times in the past. And having just googled “solar drying”, I’ve realized there is a wealth of information out there about drying food that I’ve only just found, so I’ll be back shortly on drying/dehydrating…

2 comments:

Nick said...

They are not exactly food, but herbs are another easy thing to preserve by drying. I found this collection of tips for drying herbs . It seems like a good primer on how to get started.

Tarah said...

Thanks Nick. That's an interesting link and useful for the herbs I'm growing.