What’s better than dried cranberries in a salad or snacking on apple chips? Kate Zaidan, owner of Dean’s Mediterranean Imports at Findlay Market says, it’s making your own, fresh. Using an Excalibur dehydrator, you can dry out dozens of pieces at once so you’ll always have fresh and healthy snacks on hand.
Growing up, Zaidan’s dad worked at Findlay Market and would bring home bruised fruit that was on its way to the trash. He’d make banana chips, dehydrate peaches, and get creative with whatever was left over. That experience means Zaidan has great ideas for using your Excalibur dehydrator.
Dry your summer bounty
If you still have some produce left over from summer, dehydrate it. Lay out your fruit and veggie slices on the Excalibur trays and within hours you’ll have fresh, dehydrated snacks. Zaidan says one unique item to make is sundried tomatoes. She often adds them to phyllo triangles for a savory appetizer. Or use them as topping for meat or create a sundried tomato pesto. Green beans and persimmons are also great options for kid-friendly treats. (And you can use promo code CINCY30 to get 30 percent off and free shipping through the end of 2021.)
Use seasonal items
Look around and see what’s seasonal. Right now, apples are everywhere. But much like Zaidan’s dad bringing home unwanted fruit, you can check with your local farmer. Often, they’ll sell you big batches of unattractive produce at a lower cost.
Don’t forget savory things, too
Basil, mint, parsley—you name it, you can dehydrate it. “I use dried parsley in every dish,” says Zaidan. “Any number of herbs work great in the dehydrator.” Jar them up and gift them for the holidays or keep them on hand for your seasonal cooking. Coriander seeds, sweet potato, and pumpkin are also great to use in salads and other dishes.
Whip up homemade simple syrups for cocktails
Zaidan says a dried blood orange is the perfect cocktail garnish. But go a step further and make simple syrups with dried fruit. Try poaching dried apricots in white wine to make a flavored syrup to splash in a seltzer or make a spritzer.
Pick some unusual fruits to try
With a dehydrator, fruits are a chewy and concentrated treat. One of the most popular dehydrated fruits at Dean’s are kiwi. Another option that’s perfect for salads, dishes, and snack trays are figs. “[Fresh] figs are hard to come by, but if you can find figs—buy the whole case,” says Zaidan. “If you can’t get through them fresh, dehydrate them.”
Garnish your holiday charcuterie board
Make your own accoutrements for your charcuterie boards. Dry some in-season items like citrus, or grab some more transitional holiday fruits and veggies such as cranberries, plums, and apricots. For pure decoration, add a few sprigs of thyme. Dean’s Mediterranean Imports also offers a wide selection of roasted nuts to add to the board. Or gift one of their pre-packaged trays for a healthier spin on holiday gifting.