Friday, March 8, 2013

Dehydrating Potatoes

My friend Melinda and her husband gave us a boatload of potatoes recently, and I've been slowly working them up.  Some will be chitted and planted in our garden, some canned, and some dehydrated, and of course some eaten fresh.

This week I've been dehydrating.  The process takes a little time, but isn't difficult.  I learned the basics from this post at Hickery Holler.

First I scrubbed and peeled about five pounds of potatoes.  I sliced them into a bath of about three quarts cold water and 3/4 teaspoon of citric acid.  This will help keep them from turning brown or grey from oxidation.  I am pretty fast with a knife, so that's how I cut mine, but you could use a food processor or mandolin.

As I was slicing them, I was also heating a large pot of water to a full boil.  In batches, I blanched the sliced potatoes in the boiling water for four minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, I removed the slices from the boiling water and returned them to the cool water and citric acid bath.  I made a new bath each time, using 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to each quart of cold water, because the water needs to be cold to stop the blanching process.

I then drained the slices and placed them in a single layer on the trays of our dehydrator.

I would like to one day have an Excalibur dehydrator, but for now we have a basic Ronco with ten round trays.  The five pounds of potatoes filled all ten trays perfectly.

I set the dehydrator on high (in this case, that means heat AND fan), and rotated the bottom tray to the top each hour.  Rotation isn't strictly necessary, but I feel it speeds up and evens the drying.  All of the slices were dry after eight hours.  Had they been sliced uniformly thin, they may have dried mopre quickly.

Five pounds of dehydrated potato slices fit perfectly into two quart canning jars.  I have ordered some oxygen absorbing packets and will put a couple in each jar to seal them.  Properly stored, these potatoes could be kept safely for years.

The next, I decided to make dehydrated hash browns.  I used the same basic process as above:  Wash, peel, shred with food processor, soak in citric acid bath for a few minutes, blanch for four minutes, shock in another citric acid bath.  I added a couple of steps by rinsing the shreds with cold water to remove some of the starch and wringing them in a clean cloth napkin to squeeze out most of the water.  Then I spread them on the dehydrator trays. 

Some of the shreds fell through the mesh of the trays, but that was really no worry, as the heating element is enclosed and doesn't get hot enough to burn food anyway. There are small-mesh mats available for the trays that would keep this from happening, and would also make clean-up easier for other (stickier) foods, so I may end up getting those in the future.

With shreds, five pounds filled up seven trays, which tells me I probably could've made the layers thinner in each tray so they would dry more quickly.  In the end, they filled two quart jars after six hours of drying time.

Dehydrated Shredded Potatoes

Overall, this was an easy way to preserve our potato bounty, and one that's a space-saver, too.  I'm looking forward to trying recipes made with these potatoes, and I'll be sure to post them when I do.
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