This morning I got up early and put in some time on the Stairmaster. Not my favorite activity, but as the Alpine Class approaches, I am feeling a bit unprepared for the summit. Putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over and over- a seemingly endless climb. It was only 20 minutes – then on to another 40 on the elliptical for cardio. In addition to getting my training out of the way for the day, I also had time to think about new recipes.

chicken curry – fried rice – breakfast couscous – bean salad – sausage gravy – chipotle lime corn – minestrone soup – – –

I promptly went home from the gym and had breakfast. Then got out my food dehydrator and dried some veggies for my next recipe.

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If I had known ten years ago how easy and cheap dehydrating my own food was, I would be an old pro by now. Instead, I am still experimenting with different foods, dehydration times and what I like. Some foods dehydrate better than others, and some change enough that personal preferrence comes in to play. You may like tomatoes – you might not like dehydrated tomatoes.

There are tons of books on food dehydration and you can read about it endlessly on the internet – in fact there is so much out there that it can be overwhelming. Here are a few resources I think are pretty helpful. Choosing a Food Dehydrator Dehydrating Meat And a few tips to get you started.

1. Buy a food dehydrator that comes with screens, fruit roll sheets, and can handle additional trays. The screens make sticky foods easier to remove and also work well for smaller foods like herbs, beans, and ground meat. Don’t be fooled by the name – fruit roll sheets can be used to dehydrate spaghetti sauce and salsa!

2. Don’t try to dehydrate all the ingredients in your recipe the first time. Pick one or two ingredients to experiment with and buy the rest. This way, if they don’t turn out (or you don’t like them) you don’t have to start from scratch.

3. Rehydrate your experiments before you head out on the trail! Some things rehydrate better in recipes or on their own. Test them out before you get in the woods.

4. Blanch most vegetables before dehydrating. Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn, eggplant, potatoes,etc. I cook onions before drying them since raw onions make me a little sick.

5. Start with beans and/or salsa. These two things are super easy, dry fairly fast and can be used together in a recipe. Canned beans and a jar of non-junky salsa can be dried at the same time on the same setting. The beans will finish drying before the salsa – just remove the tray and let the salsa finish.

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