BitterSweet

Sweet Musings with a Bitterly Sharp Wit

Cut and Dried

16 Comments

Populated by little more than starchy potatoes and papery onions mere weeks ago, market stalls are suddenly bursting with a rainbow of fresh produce. Giant, plump blueberries the size of grapes; gnarled heirloom tomatoes as unique and delicate as snowflakes; peaches fragrant enough to double as air fresheners; I want them all, and I want them in volume. I’m that hungry shopper tasting one of each sample, even when I know exactly what I’m going home with that day. I’m the one buying three pounds of strawberries for a recipe that only calls for two. The lure of summertime produce is one that I’m powerless against, buying in bulk despite cooking for one. I’ll eat cherries one after another, no matter how many are piled up high, until all my clothing is hopelessly stained red.

Still, endlessly voracious for that taste of sunshine, I can never get my fill. There’s only so much space in my freezer to save that seasonal bounty, and the laborious process of proper canning still eludes me. Options for preservation beyond a day at best have been severely lacking, until I stumbled upon the world of dehydration.

Embraced by the raw food movement for its ability to “cook” while preserving more nutrients than conventional heating methods, the concept itself is as old as time. Leave something edible out in the sun, keep away the bugs and prevent it from getting moldy, and slowly draw out the moisture until it can be stored for leaner times. Humidity, fluctuating temperatures, and the open air itself present serious barriers to upholding this time-honored tradition. Modern technology has gotten into the game, reviving the dehydration concept as more than just a utilitarian function, but also a doorway to more creative cuisine.

Given the opportunity to investigate the power of the Tribest Sedona Express, I jumped at the offer. Though I had dabbled in dehydration with a dinky little toy of a machine salvaged from a yard sale, my experience was limited, not to mention, unsatisfying. Now, after a year and a half of use, I can’t claim that it’s the first contraption I break out when developing new recipes, but it’s proven its value many times over.

This thing is a food drying powerhouse, bearing 1430 square inches of space across 11 trays to accommodate all the produce your heart desires. It heats up quickly and holds temperature reliably, unless you’d like to specify the intensity yourself at anywhere between 75 – 170 degrees. Long processing times are par for the course still, but no trouble with a 99-hour timer.

My studio is spatially challenged, to put it lightly, so I was reasonably concerned about adding the inherent noise that comes with such a hulking piece of machinery into the mix, working away through all hours of the night. Mercifully, my fears were unfounded; no louder than a modest propeller-driven table fan even on high, I slept soundly while the dehydrator powered through the AM hours.

That’s all well and good for basic pantry stockpiles, but what about the more important issue… Could it keep up with my snacking demands? Happily having munched my way through countless rounds of zucchini chips, coconut macaroons, and assorted fruit leathers, I can confidently report nothing but delicious experiences. One particular favorite that emerged through these trials was a buttery, cheesy vegetable in disguise that I like to call “CauliPop.” Cauliflower all dressed up like movie theater popcorn, it’s a compulsively edible nosh. While it would be a struggle to plow through a full heat of the stuff raw, it seems to disappear instantly once kissed by the warmth of the dehydrator. It’s the kind of deceptively simple formula that you’ll soon find yourself doubling and tripling to keep up with demand.

Emulating one of my favorite snack bar options, I knew it would be easy to cut the crap to fabricate an even simpler dupe. Only three ingredients are needed for these soft, chewy, and super sweet Banana-Nut Chia Bars, all of which are readily apparent from the title alone. In fact, you probably already have what it takes to make them right now! That trusty dehydrator was running nonstop when I finally hit upon the perfect ratio, handily replacing those packaged bars at a fraction of the cost.

Well into my 20th month with this beast on my side, I’m still finding new and delicious ways to use the Tribest Sedona Express. The manufacturer was kind enough to provide one for review, but no amount of fancy equipment could ever buy my praise. I can honestly say that if you’re serious about preservation, healthy snacking, or just playing around with your food, this is the model you want to harness.

CauliPop

1 Medium Head Cauliflower
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, Melted
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric

Chop the cauliflower into approximately 1-inch florets, as consistent as possible to ensure they dry at an equal rate. Blanch them by plunging them into boiling water for 3 minutes, until fork-tender but still firm. Drop them into an ice bath to immediately stop the cooking process and drain thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl.

Drizzle in the coconut oil and toss with the remaining seasonings until evenly coated. Place the florets directly on a wire rack, allowing ample space for air circulation, and set the dehydrator to 115 degrees. The “cooking” process will take anywhere from 12 – 24 hours, depending on your preferences. Pull the cauliflower earlier for a softer interior, or let it the machine run for the full cycle to get a crunchier bite throughout.

Makes 1 – 3 Servings

Printable Recipe

Banana-Nut Chia Bars

2 Large, Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
2 Tablespoons Walnuts, Chopped

Mash the bananas and stir in the chia and walnuts. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes for the chia seeds to gel. Spread the mixture evenly over a non-stick drying sheet approximately 1/4-inch thick. Dehydrate at 145 degrees for 4 – 6 hours, or until dry to the touch, firm, and sliceable. Cut into squares or bars as desired.

Makes 6 – 8 Bars

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

16 thoughts on “Cut and Dried

  1. I’ve had a dehydrator for years (not this brand) and never used it. Maybe this will inspire me to get it out and give it a try.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  2. both these recipes sound great, will definitely be trying them in the coming weeks! Love your blog ❤️🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing these yummy recipes, Hannah! I’m always searching for and delicious ways to put my dehydrator to good use. Just curious: Have you tried making the CauliPop without blanching the cauliflower first?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Though I haven’t tried making the CauliPop straight from raw florets, I don’t see why you couldn’t… I just wanted to make them a bit more *ahem* digestible. If you give it a go, I’d love to hear about the results!

      Like

  4. I’ve been thinking about getting a dehydrator for a while but I didn’t really know how to use it! These are some great ideas- I’d love to see more!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Its great fun isn’t it. Try making fruit leather swirled with a spider web of vegan yoghurt. Delish!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Naturally Sweet, Paleo Banana-Nut Chia Bars - Yum Goggle

  7. The caulipop looks incredible, what an awesome snack! I have a cheapo dehydrator, while fun to use, the noise gets on my nerves after awhile. Oh to have a quiet model to make me snacks while I sleep. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dehydrating is so much fun, and the outcome delicious:) I have had my Excalibur for years, and done so many things with it:)

    Like

  9. Great post and makes me want to dig my dehydrator out from the back of my pantry where I’m ashamed to say it’s been for awhile. Thanks!

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  10. Pingback: Modish Taste | Cut and Dried

  11. I have never done the whole dehydrating thing–I can and freeze. Reading this though, I may need to try!

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  12. Whoa. That is a beast of a dehydrator. (In a good way!) It makes my dehydrator look small — and it’s not. It’s been ages since I used my dehydrator, but with creative recipes like these, I think I may drag it up from the basement and give it a whirl.

    Like

  13. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.

    Like

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