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Whether you are a gardener with an extra-large crop or you love to shop sales, dehydrators for meats, fruits and vegetables provide you with a simple way to preserve fresh food. Dehydrated foods, like strawberries, are a healthy alternative to prepared foods you buy in the grocery store, and dehydrated food is portable enough to take with you while you are on the go.

Preparing food for dehydrating is a simple process. You have the option of slicing foods and dehydrating the slices, or you can puree food to make leather, such as fruit leather. You can also make jerky in food dehydrators. Simply slice the cut of meat to the desired thickness and marinate it to add flavor before dehydrating. When dehydrating sliced fruits, you can dip the slices in a mixture of lemon juice and water to preserve the bright, just-picked color of the food. To stay organized, use a tablet stand to keep the recipe front and center.

One of the main benefits of choosing a dehydrator for meats, fruits and vegetables is you control the ingredients that you use to prepare the food. It’s easy to make low-sugar, low-fat or low-salt snacks with a dehydrator, and you can use the dehydrator to prepare large quantities of foods by choosing a dehydrator with multiple drying trays.

Some snacks, such as fruit purees, are cooked beforehand. Opt for a slow cooker to precook foods whenever necessary. A slow cooker is a simple, efficient option that leaves you free to complete other tasks while preparing foods for the dehydrator. Other foods, like fresh berries, are dried whole. Just place the food in a single layer on the dehydrator tray to enjoy the taste of fresh food anytime. You can also add dried foods to cooked dishes. Rehydrate the dried food in warm water before adding it to the dish, or use the dried food as-is to add texture to yogurt, oats or cereal.

Food dehydrators are also a simple way to preserve fresh herbs, whether you grow your own herb garden or purchase fresh herbs from the shop. Store your dried herbs in a lidded container for a flavorful addition to both foods and beverages. You can use dried herbs without rehydrating them by adding the herbs at the beginning of the cooking process. Dehydrated herbs last for up to a full year in your pantry, allowing you to create dishes without the expense of purchasing fresh herbs each time you make your favorite foods. For a simple, fresh meal, use a pasta machine to make fresh pasta, and then use dried basil to make a pesto sauce.

To ensure your freshly dehydrated foods have a long shelf life, store them in a vacuum-sealed bag. Williams-Sonoma offers vacuum sealers to protect your preserved foods in storage. You can also use vacuum sealers to store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. Vacuum sealing protects the flavor of the food and prevents freezer burn. If you want to control the ingredients in your food, homemade options are a simple solution to avoid additives.

For a fresh, preservative free breakfast, add dehydrated fruit to homemade yogurt or waffles. A yogurt maker is a kitchen addition that turns breakfast into a treat each day. You can use any type of milk, including goat’s milk or almond milk, along with your choice of sweeteners or fruit, to create a tasty breakfast using only the ingredients you want to include. Freeze-dried berries are a simple addition to plain yogurt when you want a burst of flavor that also adds texture. To maximize your kitchen space, choose a yogurt maker that doubles as a bread proofer, and use the appliance to make your own fresh bread. A bread proofer is a must-have if you make sourdough, or other fermented, breads. With a few simple tools, you can make a variety of homemade foods that provides you and your family with healthy snacks and meals.