Mushroom log. Check. Backyard hens. Check. Rain barrel. Check. Still, you can’t call yourself an urban homesteader without one of these.
Dehydrating food is as old an idea as harvesting more than one can eat in a single sitting. Hungry humans with foresight have been preserving flora and fauna for later consumption since we were clever enough to figure it out after not dying from eating a three-day-old, sun-dried scrap of aurochs. The advent of more complex forms of preservation – smoking, curing, salting – refrigeration, and shopping for food in smaller quantities pushed the craft of food dehydrating off to the fringes, where it can make for strange bedfellows. The multitray, electric food dehydrator is the darling of both right-wing, gun-toting, Bambi-hunting survivalists and tree-hugging, vegan, raw-foodies alike. Chances are that at one point or another, you’ve fantasized – just a little bit – about urban homesteading.
The machines used to be as earnest and plain – brown boxes – as the handful of folks who kept one on the kitchen counter. But as food dehydrating gradually makes its way back from the cabin in the woods, the garage or the hippie, raw, vegan café, California-based Excalibur has relaunched its dryers in nine funky and elegant finishes, from hot pink to hammered copper. There’s even a “camo” model, lest the ducks and deer figure out what’s in store.
For the urban foodie, dehydrating is less about putting up rations for the zombie apocalypse or preserving moose meat than it is about making healthy, whole-food snacks for the kiddies and pooch – cookies, crackers, fruit leather, kale chips – and for making raw foods that seem almost cooked, such as sprouted breads or nut-based pizza crusts. It’s a food-preparation method that works without fat, and preserves nutrients. Dehydrating is also a less complicated way of preserving all those tomatoes from the garden; we can’t all find the time for home-canning, but a little slicing, sure.
Starting at $350 from excaliburdehydrator.com and (for purchases from Canada) Sales@GreenfieldWorld.com.