Friday, November 7, 2008

Dehydration Hesitation

Despite my recent rant against unnecessary kitchen gadgets, I've acquired what could be considered the ultimate in excessive, bulky appliances: a food dehydrator.

I've used it a few times with excellent results, but I'm unconvinced that the dehydrator is the way to go when it comes to preserving. On the plus side, sapping the moisture out of foods like peaches and peppers enables me to save locally grown produce from the time they're picked until the apocalypse.

The downside is that the thing needs to run for up to twelve hours to do so, which draws out not only moisture but also electricity. And as clean an energy source as electricity seems, remember that it's really just coal that comes out of your wall. People say that dehydrating doesn't use any more energy than a light bulb, but I don't leave those on for twelve hours either.

The strongest argument against the dehydrator is that it reminds me of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The dehydrator is a substitute for knowledge, proof that we've lost touch with time tested methods of preservation like like sun drying and smoking. But the fact of the matter is that I don't yet possess all of that knowledge, I love Massachusetts peaches, and I want to eat them in the winter.

That said, it was sad to see them go from this...

To this:

Why not can? It seems criminal to add sugar to a peach, and anything canned "in water" is just pathetic.

Aren't hot peppers the poster child for air drying? Yes, but not necessarily in New England. For instance, when I got these peppers it was so damp that they began to rot and attract fruit flies. In the future I hope to do more air drying, sun drying, smoking, pickling, and fermenting, but for now I'll sit back and enjoy the low hum.

Also, when I dried the peaches it was particularly chilly out, and the dehydrator made a nice foot warmer.

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