The main thing for spices is dehydrating. There are many ways to make spices, including freeze drying, dehydrating, or even freezing to use as fresh as possible at a later date. I’ve gone through the dehydrating process. There are a few ways you can dehydrate food. You can use your oven as a dehydrator, you can build an outdoor dehydrator or sun dry your herbs and spices, and you can use a plain old dehydrator.
How to Choose Your Tools
First of all, you have to decide if dehydrating your own things is your niche. It is a slow process, and it does take patience. Frankly, it can take a lot of money if you really start getting into it. This is why I didn’t start off with the freeze drying method, as that does take a lot of money, even for the cheaper route. So, how do you decide if dehydrating your own herbs and spices is your thing? Well, you try it, of course.
Now, don’t just go out and buy a dehydrator, or invest in a bunch of things that are going to clutter up your home and yard, to make an outside dehydrator that you may never use. There are two cheap and easy ways to figure out if this is your thing. The best way is if you know someone who has a dehydrator that you can borrow. Please, if you are using someone else’s equipment, get some information from them on how to use it, so you don’t wreck it. Also, keep track of all of the parts, so you can return it when you are done.
Decide what you want to dehydrate first. I chose fruits to start with. Something as easy as lemons to slice to add into your sun tea when you brew it, can be easy, fun, and, most importantly, yummy! You slice it up, lay it on the trays, place the top on, plug it in, turn it on, and walk away. Of course, you will need to check on it periodically. Also, you will need to make sure that you shuffle the trays so that the air and heat are being distributed evenly so that it is all done together. Then, soon enough, you have dried lemon slices.
What if I Don’t Have Access to a Dehydrator?
Well, not all of us know people with a dehydrator. However, luck should have it, that if you own an oven, you have a tool that you can use already. Once you have your recipe, all you need to do is set your oven up, place your fruit on a wax or parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place it in the oven. And that should be that, right?
Not quite. I learned, while trying this out myself, that you need to have your oven door cracked open so that the air can flow through. I also learned that not all ovens are created equal. Meaning, you can’t just set the temp and walk away like you can with a dehydrator. I actually spent quite a bit of time playing around, finding the correct temperature. I arranged my oven racks so that I could hang my candy thermometer inside the oven in the middle of the oven to get the temperature. I set the temperature to the approximate 135, or where I thought it should be anyhow. Then I allowed it ample time to adjust. I allowed it anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, because I really couldn’t get it through my family’s heads to stop shutting the oven door.
Once I finally got it to the correct temperature, I started putting things in. The difference here is that you have to come back periodically to manually move your fruits and vegetables around so that all sides get the proper air flow and heat to them so they don’t burn or spoil. Don’t get discouraged if you burn it the first few tries. I burnt it a few times myself. This takes a lot of time and patience, however, when you are done, it looks so pretty!!! And they taste wonderful.
So, take some time to try it out, and leave me a comment below to tell me how your experience went and what you thought of your product afterwards.