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I'd like to dehydrate acorn squash. Do I cook and do it just like butternut squash? I can't find any info. for acorn squash ... Thanks Bret
Acorn squash is treated just like butternut squash, though it is a little harder to peel due to its shape ... I slice the squash first into slices, then cut off the rind, and remove the center seeds – and continue with the butternut squash instructions.
As with the watermelon seeds, you can also save the seeds of the squash (and pumpkin of course!).
Roast the seeds. Let them dry thoroughly after giving them a cleaning in your sieve under the kitchen faucet. Toss them on a cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes at 325°F. Spray the seeds first with plain cooking spray and a dash of salt. Best eaten when fully cooled.
This just back from Bret: "Susan, thanks for your help. I will be trying it this week! I plan on drying them and then run them through a blender to make it into a powder and then vacuum seal it. I think that will be great to add to dishes such as soups and stews for extra nutrition, especially if kids don't know what you added to their dinner! :-) Have a great day -- Bret"
Michelle asks: "I tried to dehydrate a strawberry purée today and used plastic wrap on my dehydrator tray. The fan blew the plastic wrap up and made the purée slide all around. Suggestions? I used frozen strawberries, thawed and drained".
Hi Michelle – my first question is, did you cut the plastic wrap to the actual size of the round or square tray? If you did, and it obviously wasn't what you expected, I would highly recommend purchasing the fruit roll sheets. It's worth it. Better luck next time, and thanks for writing in! :-)
Amy had a question: I dehydrated fresh broccoli, all the pieces were brittle with a hint of moisture. I checked them the next day and they were all soft. I stored them in a Ziploc and placed them in a drawer inside my pantry. The Ziploc bag is temporary, until my Mylar bags come in. Would you please let me know what you think the problem could be? Thank you, Amy
Hi Amy, sorry to hear that your broccoli was less than satisfactory, but don't give up! It's OK to put it back on the dehydrator and dry it out more.
Upon reading your question over, I'm not sure if you missed out the important step of using a food vacuum sealer? The vacuum sealer removes all the air out of the bag.
You see, when you left your broccoli overnight in a regular Ziploc bag, there was plenty of air in there, and as we all know, air is oxygen and water combined! We just need to make sure that our foods are very dry. Another point is: try and make sure that whatever it is you're drying are of uniform size. This REALLY helps in the drying department.
Remedy: Dehydrate it again (won't take long!), let it cool down, (skip the conditioning) and then vacuum seal the broccoli in a bag that's made specifically for vacuum sealers. Now we have all the air out! Then you're ready for the Mylar bags!
Thank you so much for your quick answer. Is it OK to use mason jars with oxypacks instead of a vacuum sealer?
Hi Amy – Mason Jars are fine for storage for 'every day' use.
For long-term storage, invest in a food-vacuum sealer.
Your food will be air-tight and will last for months, rather than a couple of weeks in a Mason Jar, assuming that you're opening a Mason Jar every other day or so.
Richard asks: When Dehydrating Fruits is it best to have them slightly under ripe, fully ripe, or slightly over ripe to get the best nutritional value?
Hi Richard! Peak ripeness is always best – for true flavor. Unripe fruit can yield sourness or even be a bit tasteless; overripe can be a bit chewy and tough.
Regarding nutrition: The BEST time to eat fruit is in its raw state ... nutrition-wise. However, when you dehydrate any food, it will lose some of its nutritional value, unfortunately.
When a banana is first picked, for instance, it is rather starchy. When fully ripe, those starches have turned to the simple sugars that the body needs for fuel, so you could say that nutritional values 'do change' in the ripening process.
So it's a matter of preference after dehydrating: is taste and texture more important than its nutritional value? i.e. let it ripen more for the simple sugars, or dehydrate it somewhere in the middle of the ripening cycle for its taste/texture. It's up to you. Thanks for writing in!
Debbie says: Your blog is fantastic! My question is about dehydrating zucchini. I washed it, sliced it with my Magic Bullet (fast!) then dropped it into boiling water to blanch it, then put it in a colander and then in ice water, then laid out on paper towels to blot up excess water; THEN into Excalibur 9-tray 125-degrees for 10 hrs. Then into quart mason jar, vac sealed the lid (neat!) with my FoodSaver. BUT this is SO much work for only a quart of dried zucchini chips which we eat up almost immediately!!
Which steps can I leave out or streamline so this is faster? Could I steam instead of blanch (saw that on your blog) if so, how long? Could I up the temp on the dehydrator and lower the time (without losing nutrients)? Sorry this is so long. Need help! Your site is the best I have found so far -
Hi Debbie! Appreciate the kinds words about the site and the blog!
Yes, I can save you a few steps – just steam them over a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, and then put them straight on your dehydrator trays! No need to chill them or dry them out - the dehydrator will dry them! :-)
Don't alter your heat setting – you don't want to have the veggies get a hard shell with a soft interior (that's called case hardening). Lastly, yes, it's quite a bit of work!
My site really is aiming at putting away food in case of any emergency food situations, such as strikes, government shutdowns, tornadoes, hurricanes – that sort of thing - AND obviously, for backpacking and snacking!
Debbie responded with this: I steamed the latest batch for about 3 minutes (in a large dutch oven w/steamer insert) – bottom ones looked like they'd been blanched and top ones looked like they hadn't been steamed. Do I need to stir them several times while steaming or steam longer?
What happens if I don't steam at all?
Regarding steaming and/or blanching: This enables the veggies to keep their vibrant colors. If you do have a 'pan full', then you can certainly stir up the veggies for even steaming and/or blanching. I have never dehydrated zucchini without blanching/steaming, so, quite honestly, I don't know what they'd turn out like! Why don't you try it, and please report back with your findings!
Debbie did report back back to us. She says "regarding blanching/steaming zucchini: the ones that didn't look blanched turned out tough, whitish and opaque after dehydrating. The "good ones" that got a good steaming were translucent, crisp, and delicious! So I will either steam in small batches so they are uniform, or I will blanch real fast. Thank you! I am learning more every day; who woulda' thought this would be fun?"