Monday, June 3, 2013

Food Dehydrating forum

What do you do when you have a state of the art food dehydrator and you don’t really know what to do with it?

Where do you start? What’s possible? What works well and not so well? What are the tricks? The answer is, you tap into the wealth of skills and knowledge that already exist in the community and bring it together within a FOOD DEHYDRATING FORUM.

That’s exactly what a member of the Fruit and Nut Tree Network did on Saturday June 1st. About fifteen women (no men put their hand up?) gathered in a cosy Leura home and pooled their knowledge regarding the dehydration of food. Some women had been doing it all their lives, following in family traditions, while others got into it through bush walking and outdoor activities. Most wanted ways to preserve seasonal fruits and veges either from their own garden abundance or from seasonal shop/farm gate offerings.

The group learned about making leather strips of fruit or veges, the ins and outs of meat jerky, fabulous and easy ways of dehydrating and re-hydrating whole dinners, semi dried tomatoes that start off reducing on a hot car bonnet, drying herbs, making yogurt and tips on reducing sauces/spreads to powders that reconstitute into things like tomato soup/paste, humus, babaganoush or an infinite number of other sauces that can be quickly added to dishes to boost nutrition and flavour.

Examples of dried foods were available to see/taste and one participant leaned that you must first blanch sweet potato rounds if you want them to result in really crispy yummy chips post dehydrating. Safe storage was also explored - plastic, glass or vacuum sealed bags and there were several brands of machines and cutting equipment on display to aid in future purchases.

All in all, it was exhilarating and inspiring and the best possible way to spend a cold cloudy winter’s day. The beginner dehydrators swam in a pool of tried and true knowledge while the experienced picked up further tips and recipes along with the satisfaction of sharing their skills. If there is sufficient interest, the forum could be run again next year.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful idea! I'd love to attend next year. Elise



We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)