Friday, April 18, 2014

Is a Dehydrator Worth It?

A dehydrator takes the water out of food, creating a way to lighten your load or space. It helps spices to remain almost forever, backpackers to carry weeks worth of waterless meals in their backpacks, and water out of fruit and meat for snacks.

An average dehydrator costs around $30. Is it really worth it? Well, let's look at the cost of spices at the grocery store. Let's take basil for example. I bought a fresh basil plant in early March. We're halfway through April and it's still producing leaves. We bought a sweet basil plant at a local nursery for $2.50.

Granted, the pot, soil, and water costs money, but its a small enough amount that it really doesn't add to much since the plant is so small. It's not like we're using enough water to fill a bathtub or anything. I'm a huge fan of gardening and when you plant even just one plant, like spices, it's well worth the money.
Any old dehydrator will get the job done :)

After cutting off the leaves, you should wash them (and make sure there are no bugs or insects on them).
Put a plastic tray (usually for fruit leather) on the bottom tray. This will catch all the crumbs when they are dehydrated

Place the leaves in an even layer on your dehydrator tray.

Wait 3-4 hours, but check them once in awhile. I tried dehydrating fresh strawberries one time and I actually burned them! So keep an eye on your special leaves.

When will they be done? I don't have fancy buttons on my dehydrator, but when they crumple when you touch them, they're done. Kind of like bacon.  Place them in a ziploc and have a kid crumple them to the size you want them.
Fresh organic basil

Back to the original question: is a dehydrator worth it? A regular container spice container of basil is minimum $3.00 around here. I bought the basil plant for $1.99 and have gotten at least 2 spice containers full from just one basil plant without adding any miracle grow or anything.

So the answer is yes. Over time, you can dehydrate many things...for mucho cheaper than the grocery store. Plus, who needs to keep buying the same spice container? Although they are handy...

Other uses for a regular $30 dehydrator:

Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Fruit (Grapes-Raisins)
Meat Jerky
Spices (Basil, Parsley, etc)
Flowers (who knew?)

A great website for more dehydrator uses: 

Definitely a kitchen investment! You can use all that extra money towards your debt and create some kitchen or craft experiments :)