When winter is in the rearview mirror and spring rolls around, I get inspired to get in the kitchen and try new things. It was this time last year that I started making my own hot sauce, which has since become an in-demand pantry item at Chez Knobloch.
At the same time, I got interested in trying my hand at making snacks with a food dehydrator: I love things like dried apples and pineapple, but the preservatives or sugar that are in most store-bought brands didn’t appeal to me. So I rung my friends at the International Home & Housewares Association and had them send me a food dehydrator to test.
What happened next is an all-too-familiar story— I didn’t love the machine, had a couple of failed attempts, got discouraged, and put that dehydrator where the sun don’t shine— on the floor of my pantry. Where it took up a lot of space because, well, dehydrators are giant. Every time I opened my pantry, I’d glance down at it, and it would look up at me. We’d nod to each other, knowing I was unlikely to ever use it again. Eventually, I gave it away to a friend.
All of that was ancient history when I strolled past the Brod and Taylor booth at this year’s International Home & Housewares Show, and saw their new Sahara Folding Dehydrator. It stopped me in my tracks because… it folds. To a third of its size. Which makes it incredibly easy to store, yet doesn’t impact how sturdy and well-designed it is.
This is huge, because I’m generally averse to “unitaskers” that take up a ton of space in the kitchen— having an appliance that you use infrequently that folds flat makes it seem like less of a burden when it comes time to put it away.
The results were great too: Where that “other” food dehydrator gave me uneven results, this fan moved the air through efficiently, and all my apples were perfectly chewy after about 10 hours. The stainless steel shelves are easy to clean and BIG: The Sahara has one square meter of drying area (that’s a lot of apples: I sliced 4 up to make the bowl you see here, and they only took up three of the seven shelves).
Best of all, the instructions couldn’t have been easier to follow, and the guide book gave me a suggested temperature and time range that worked perfectly for my apples, as well as the watermelon and pineapple spears I dried. They are not pictured here because my teenage son ate an entire watermelon and a half-pineapple in one sitting.
Dehydrators can be loud as they blow air for hours on end, but this one’s fan wasn’t too offputting— I worked next to it for most of the day. And the glass doors made it a fun distraction to check on the fruit every couple of hours and see how they were doing.
Then, when it was all over, I had a lovely bowl of apples (they were gone by the morning), and I could fold up the Sahara and tuck it in a cupboard with space to spare. I am going to be planting lots of berries, veggies and herbs this season, so I suspect I’ll be dehydrating up a storm into summer and even in fall. I can’t wait to bust it out again.
I made: Dried apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Watermelon Jerky with chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice, and pineapple spears with (just a sprinkling of) mint sugar.
Other things I’d love to try: Dehydrated garlic slices, kale chips, mint or sage or other dried spices, and more of that watermelon (since I didn’t get to eat any of it).
Do you guys have a dehydrator? What should I make next? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks to Brod & Taylor for supplying the dehydrator for me to test, and to the International Home & Housewares Association folks for helping me out!