Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dehydrator Week

This week I plan to teach my cooking class about food dehydrating. My plan is to take a bunch of already-dried foods so they can see and taste the end product. Then I will show them how to prepare the foods and set up the dehydrator.

So this week I marinated the ground beef for beef jerky, then when I tested my 20-year old dehydrator, I found out it no longer gets hot enough for meat! So I laid the strips of beef on cooling racks in the oven and dried it that way. What a time-consuming, babysitting job! (The above picture shows my old dehydrator.)

So I posted a "Wanted: Food Dehydrator" post on and waited. Sure enough, a friend of mine saw my post and gave me her Ronco dehydrator! (Freecycle has yet to fail me!) I wasn't sure I was going to like this Ronco. The reviews on it range from "hate it" to "love it" on However, I have decided that for meats, it is a sure winner. The Ronco is merely a heating element with no fan. It is this slow heat that makes it wonderful for meats.

Doesn't this beef jerky look delicious?

This is the beef jerky made from ground beef. Our family actually prefers this jerky to the strips made from bottom round. I used 97% lean ground beef that I bought on sale for $1/lb. My trusty jerky marinade is simple:

Beef Jerky for 2# of meat

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Of course, you can add more of any one spice depending on your preference. This recipe is child-friendly. Just use the worcestershire sauce from the Dollar Store.

Since my old dehydrator still heats up to 125 degrees (need 145 for meats), I can use it for fruits. So I am drying apricot halves, peach halves and slices, pineapple slices and chunks, apple slices, and pear halves. I was going to dry some grapes, but at $3.49/lb I decided not to!

These fruits should be dry by Monday morning. Then I will make fruit leather.

I have been known to keep my dehydrator running nonstop for a month or two. Sure keeps my home smelling yummy!

The girls are having a lot of fun in Texas with my parents. They visited the Alamo this week and enjoyed it. They tried to visit Vision Forum, but they are only open on Fridays.

I spent the afternoon cutting fabric and listening to Rudy Atwood and the Old Fashion Revival Hour Quartet. I keep humming the words to Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior:

Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem;
Must not my heart from Him ever sever;
He is my all, there's nothing between.

I am so thankful for our toasty home in this bitter weather. So much to be thankful for. Have a worshipful Sunday.

Many blessings ~ Kathie


Deb said...

Kathie ~ I'd LOVE to live next to you! :) I think you could teach me a lot! I've never even thought about drying food in a dehydrator, and you sound like an old pro. :)

I'd love to have bopped right next door and helped you cut fabric and listen to Nothing Between (I love that song).

Thanks for the post.

mhcowen said...

Kathie, I agree with Deb's comment:) I have learned so much from you and would love to be closer, even if it was the same state!
I only buy the 97% ground beef...but have only found it as cheap as $4.50/lb! Amazing deal you found...can you freeze it and mail it to me:) Hope you are doing great.