The patisserie chef at a café where I worked introduced me to dried peach skin one day. Something you might otherwise throw away was transformed into a tasty addition to one of his fabulous afternoon tea creations.The peach flavour was so intense. I was intrigued.
Around Christmas time, I acquired a dehydrator. The price of a dehydrator is affordable and it is easy to use. After great success dehydrating oranges I wanted to do more. But was extraordinarily difficult to find a book or further inspiration.
A new cookery book, Ferment, Pickle, Dry was sent to us to review. At last! One whole section is on drying or dehydrating foods. Caroline recently reviewed a book about Korean cuisine where fermenting foods take pride of place. This book includes Kimchi of course, but the authors have spread their net wide and include sourghdough, tempeh (fermented soya beans) and even muesli in that section.
Authors Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley from the Fermentarium include links throughout to recipes where you can use the foods that you’ve created – such a great idea.
I’ve dipped into the book many times now, mostly exploring the drying section. The authors freely admit that their dehydrator is a basic model and I’ve found that you really do need to experiment with timings and heat settings to achieve the best results. However, this really shouldn’t deter you from trying!
At my old house I had a huge bay tree. Before I left, I decided to dry some leaves to tide me over. Whilst of course you could hang a cut branch to dry, popping them into the dehydrator is quicker and preserves their colour beautifully
Dried Chilli Beetroot and Dried Carrot 3 Ways
For these vegetables, spice/salt mixtures are sprinkled over dampened vegetables then dried. These didn’t turn out quite so well. The taste was lovely but they didn’t come out crisp even after adding extra drying time. However, looking through the book, I discovered dried vegetables used om recipe for instant vegetable stock. Of course! I rehydrated them and created a very tasty soup.
Candied orange peel
This has been a great success and really appeals to “my waste not want not” tendencies. Simply store up orange peel over a few days (this can be the satsuma type or standard oranges). You then cook the peel until soft in sugar syrup. Leave in fairly large pieces and dry in the dehydrator for about 6 hours. When ready, chop into smaller pieces if you intend to use the peel for baking, or slice and dip into dark chocolate. This recipe produces much more flavoursome peel than standard shop bought.
- 300 gr orange peel
- 400 ml water
- 300 gr sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- Place the orange peel in a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover.
- Bring to the boil and drain, then return to the pan. This step can be omitted if a bitter flavoured is desired (I found this wasn't necessary)
- Add the measured water to the orange peel in the pan and bring to the boil
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the peel is soft.
- Drain and reserve the water to make the syrup
- Mix the reserved water with the sugar and spices (if using).
- Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar had dissolved
- Cut the soften peel into slices about 1 cm wide
- Add the orange peel to the boiling syrup and return to the boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool
- Once cool, return to the heat and boil again. Repeat until all the water has evaporated.
- Place on dehyrdrator trays and dry for about 4-6 hours at 65C or until touch dry.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months. You can cut the peel into smaller pieces before storing if you prefer.
Find out more
There are so many other recipes I want to try, my own dried tomatoes for example or dried wild mushrooms or dried nori crackers. and of course, many recipes in the other sections. This is definitely a book I am going to return to time and again. There’s much talk of comfort food at the moment. This is comfort food with a difference.
Ferment, Pickle, Dry is published by Frances Lincoln and is priced at £20.