Eating raw doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless as some may lead you to believe. Health benefits aside, the truth is that “cooking” with raw foods can be a creative way to mix and enhance flavors, and that the raw food diet has many culinary facets, one being dehydration. And with summer in full swing, the sun and warm air can be a great friend to the raw foodist.
Dehydration is one of the most ancient forms of preserving food and one of the raw foodist’s best techniques for adding variety of flavor and texture to meals. For example, adding dehydrated carrots and radishes to a raw pea puree soup adds the crunchy texture of a crouton but with more depth of flavor, or even using dehydrated tomatoes as chips for a homemade hummus. These techniques are the cards up the raw chef’s sleeve.
Nonelectrical and solar dehydrators like The Food Pantrie are ideal because they allow natural heat and oxidation to preserve the flesh without compromising the nutrients. Fiber, Vitamin B Complex, and Vitamin C are not lost to the heat, all of which promote healthy digestion and cardiovascular health.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with a large spring, late-summer, or fall bounty, dehydration can be an ideal way of preserving it. Dehydrate your harvested herbs and place in mason jars for year-round use. Do the same with peppers, fruits, and vegetables for year-round snacking. Create your own trail and veggie mixes for your journeys like this one:
Savory Sun Trail Mix
Mix ½ cup each of sunflower seeds, almonds, and pumpkin seeds together. Add ½ cup of dehydrated tomatoes and ¼ cup of dehydrated carrot bits and 2 tablespoons of dehydrated minced garlic to the mixture. Finally, add salt to taste.
Get creative with your food drier and create these sweet snacks for your kids –and for yourself with this fun recipe:
Homemade Fruit Leather
Just blend your desired fruit(s), add gelatin alternative like agar-agar, and pour puree onto Paraflexx sheet or parchment paper and place in the dehydrator until the puree tough-ish and dry to the touch. Slice the dried puree into strips, roll in parchment or wax paper and enjoy!
I have enjoyed a purely strawberry version of this recipe as well as a mixture of grapes, strawberries, and apples. Both are sweet and rich with the natural sugars and pulp of the fruit.
Dehydration is just one technique used by folks eating raw, but it’s one of the easiest and most utilized among raw foodists, vegans, and vegetarians alike. I think it’s because dehydration allows us to eat our favorite fruits and veggies for longer periods of time, but it also gets us to think differently about the food we prepare and how we intend to bring flavors together without compromising the nutrients.