As you may have read recently, we found over 100 lbs of chanterelle mushrooms last week! The great news is that we have lots of tasty, tasty mushrooms. The bad news is that we couldn't eat them all fresh and preserved the large majority of them, meaning that our excalibur food dehydrator was running pretty much 24/7 (you can read about this method of dehydrating mushrooms here).
That doesn't sound so bad, but having a machine blowing 145 F air around the kitchen is not ideal, especially in mid July. in the south. with no AC.
And speaking of the challenges of homesteading and living with no AC, we also have this truck that runs, but pretty every part that is not absolutely vital to the movement of this vehicle is broken. Some that are vital might not even work half the time, so that's why it mostly sits in the driveway.
We always joked that it got so hot in the back of the truck with the cap on just sitting out there in the West Virginia sunshine that we could use it as a solar oven (fry an egg yada yada). Well, the heat got to us so badly we decided that we decided that we might just try it, because anything is better than cooking in the house all day. Okay, so we haven't actually tried cooking in it yet, BUT we did try using it as a giant food dehydrator!
I simply put a pallet in the bed of the truck and laid the dehydrator trays out on it. After spreading out the mushrooms on it, closing the tailgate and back windshield, and letting it sit in the direct sun for about 8-10 hours, we had a ton of dehydrated mushrooms all ready to go! No electricity needed!
Tired of having to make pasta from scratch every time we wanted it, my beloved decided to make a huge batch of egg noodles this morning and dehydrate them for later use. That way we could just throw it in boiling water for a quick meal instead of making the dough, rolling it out, cutting it up, etc. after a long day of work. He decided to try out the truck dehydration method again and it worked splendidly! After just a couple of hours, we had pounds of dried noodles ready to go.
Once again, we used the trays out of our dehydrator, but if you don't have these, some window screen would work just fine. We also put some of our mushrooms on an upturned milk crate and they dehydrated just as well as those on the trays.
If you don't have an old wore out farm truck to dehydrate your food in, have no fear, the trunk of a station wagon or SUV would work just fine as well. Ever notice how thing in your car tend to get dried out and shriveled, especially if you leave them on your dashboard? One herbalist even told me that she will go out and pick some herbs and then throw them on her dash to let them dry out. Just don't leave any food or herbs there too long as the heat and sunlight could destroy some of the nutrients. Take it out as soon as it is dry. Also, if it is really hot like it is right now, remember to leave some of the windows cracked, so it doesn't get too hot that it actually cooks anything. The truck bed is great because the vents on the side allow us to control how hot it gets back there. You could even put a small thermometer in with your dehydrating food so you that you can manage the temperature better.
That's about it! It's not the most mind boggling idea ever, but it is a good little tidbit. Maybe, if I'm lucky, my heat fried brain will come up with a couple more.
I think that we win the prize for best food dehydrator decorations.
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