My home smells like pizza. One of the beautifully unexpected aspects about dehydrators is that they fill your home with wonderfully delicious scents while your food dries. I’m making Mini Pizzas, which if you have my UnCookbook you know are made of sliced eggplant, marinara sauce, and some spices. When dehydrated, they taste wonderfully chewy and conquer that I-need-to-have-pizza craving I get now and that. They kinda remind me of those pizza bites I used to love as a kid.
Dehydrators. Before I went raw, I had no idea why they were necessary and had never even seen one. The idea of drying your fruit sounded silly to me…why not just eat it normally? I liked jerky, sure, but would rather buy it than make it. Yuck. So when looking for a dehydrator, I wasn’t sure what to keep an eye out for. I quickly learned that the dehydrator needs a temperature gauge, as most dry at temperatures hot enough to cook (and thereby destroy the nutrients and enzymes of) your food. I also learned that if I wanted to make crackers, breads, and fruit leather, I would need a square dehydrator, not a round one. Most round dehydrators have the fan in the middle – with a cutout…so you would get bunt-shaped foods. I quickly learned that there was one name on everyone’s lips: Excalibur. They have phenomenal dehydrators, lots to choose from and a great reputation. They are expensive, though…and I wasn’t sure I wanted to splurge if I wasn’t going to use it very often. Smart, cautious move…but I wish I had splurged. I bought the four tray and later on bought another four tray. Like the rest of my appliances, I am looking to possibly upgrade and sell the dehydrators I have now. If interested in purchasing mine from me, contact me.
As much as I recommend an Excalibur dehydrator…I know that not everyone needs to dry all their food, so I tell everyone to find what they can in their budget. I bought one of my friends an inexpensive round dehydrator for $40 for her birthday and she makes wonderful foods in it. I’ve enjoyed her crackers and she tells me wonderful stories of her pancakes and other treats.
Now I can’t imagine what I’d do without my dehydrator! My Mini Pizzas are UnBaking right now and I need to make another batch of crackers. Breads, cookies, tortillas, granola, cereal, spicy seeds, “candied” nuts, chips and fruit leather are all a lovely part of my diet. Not an essential one, but a wonderful option when salads get monotonous. In fact, fruit leather may be the easiest food in the world to make. It’s so easy and simple to me, that I can’t imagine putting it into my next UnCookBook, so I’ll share it with you.
Now, if you don’t have a dehydrator…never fear! Take a look at your oven. Does it have a “warm” setting? Any idea what temperature your “low” setting is? If you have a meat thermometer (and if you don’t, they are only a dollar or two), put your oven on “low” or “warm” and prop the door open a little. Now, place your thermometer inside and wait ten minutes. If the temperature is under 120°, you are in business! If it’s even lower…yaaay! Ideally, you want to get it below 118°, but I like around 105°.
For those of you without a dehydrator or a warm oven…feel free to bake these little babies…they are still delicious and better than the store bought fruit rollups. They have no added sugar and are remarkably healthy.
Strawberry Fruit Leather:
- 2 pears*
- 6-10 strawberries**
- 1 tsp cinnamon***
**Strawberries are PACKED with Vitamin C, and eating a handful will fulfill your RDA. They also have wonderful anti-cancer properties and have been linked to fight against macular degenerations, rheumatoid arthritis, and helps heart health. Strawberries are also excellent sources of manganese, iodine, potassium, folate, vitamins B2, B5, B6, K, cooper, magnesium and even omega-3 fatty acids)
***In the ancient world, cinnamon was more precious than gold and was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs. It is used both as a culinary spice and for medicinal purposes. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic and even has anti-clotting properties, making it a natural treatment against arthritis, yeast infections, stomach ulcers, and has even showed to inhibit the growth of cultured tumor cells. Cinnamon has also been used in Korea and China as a traditional herb for treating diabetes. It is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, zinch, copper, and selenium. It also is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E.