The Cottage Smallholder

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Tales of a busy dehydrator: Celery


Photo: Dehydrated celery

Photo: Dehydrated celery

Well the Westfalia Food Dehydrator finally arrived from Germany. It took two weeks rather than the ten days stipulated on the website but it is the cheapest dehydrator on the market and I’m thrilled with it.

OK it’s a very basic model with no temperature control. It’s marketed as being perfect for the beginner. More advanced dehydrator folk run machines built like tanks and called Excalibur.

I hadn’t even considered home dehydrating until I read about them on various American websites. has loads of web videos and advice. The more I thought about the benefits of dehydration the faster I moved away from thoughts of pulverised pot noodle eaten on a damp mountainside.

I suppose the scales fell from my eyes when I realised that I drink dehydrated tea everyday. It’s the word dehydration that’s off putting. Drying food would mean freedom from being overwhelmed by gluts, it would enable me to store food that is on offer and in season. My passion for Fenland celery could be fed all year (rather than just the few months when it’s in season) by drying heads of celery for use later. In fact celery is what I want to talk about today.

Apparently dried ground celery is a good substitute for salt. As Danny suffers from high blood pressure this could be the answer for him.  So the dehydrator whirred like a small salon hair drier and reduced a bulky head of celery to a small pack of green leaves and celery pieces small enough to serve in the dolls house. This is another benefit of dehydrating food – it takes up far less space in the larder. We ground these minute dried pieces fine and produced a tasty seasoning.

I also ordered a well reviewed book Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.
This is packed with ideas and recipes fom trail mix to beef jerky. It even has a recipe to make your own vegetable stock powder – homemade ‘Marigold’ without the palm oil! You can dehydrate fish too but I’m sticking to vegetables and fruit at the moment. Meanwhile I’m off to town to buy some more Fenland celery to guzzle and dry for slow cooked casseroles and soup over the winter.

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  1. Hello there
    I am thinking of buying a dehydrator soon and found all the comments here very interesting. As for Fenland Celery – do you just dry the leaves or do you dry the stems too, and would this work with ordinary celery, we can’t get Fen-grown down here in Cornwall as far as I know.
    Mim x x x

  2. Found this link while I am supposed to be studying Policy Framework Analysis :oD that shows some different methods of preparing fruit and veg, maybe some of these will give a chewier texture?

  3. I went to dinner at a Swiss chap’s home over 20 years ago and when I arrived he was dehydrating his glut of apples. I’d never seen anything like it before and had forgotten all about it – until now! Thank you.

    I clicked on your links and then followed more links to the instruction booklet. Wow! As you say, fruit, vegetables and fish, but meat (Biltong?) And the biggest eye opener was flowers!!! Making your own pot pourri – this is going straight onto my wish list.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Katyvic

    I think that the store bought ones are treated with preservatives.

    Hi LindaM

    Thanks so much for all that information. It’s a real help.

    Hi Tamar

    Shame about the toms. Perhaps you could use the top of the woodburner like you did with the salt?

    The only fruit that I’ve tried so far are lemons and oranges. Will be trying pears very soon.

    Hi Rob

    Thanks for that. We have kale and balsamic and spices – can’t wait to try making dino chips 🙂

  5. I bought two of the larger Excaliburs earlier this year never having dehydrated a thing. But I flat out put these things to work this year. It’s easy as pie, and MUCH, MUCH easier than canning. Almost no energy goes into the unit as compared to canning your fruits and veggies, and storage is at a premium. I still can some tomatoe sauce, but it’s unnecessary with the dehydrater. I also make snacks out of vegetables that the kids will eat. Kale, and other greens are delicous when spritzed with a little baslamic vinegar and some spices. We call them dino chips and the kids devour them.

  6. Thanks so much, LindaM! That’s a terrific lot of information.

    When I tipped the failed load of pears out on the counter, I noticed that the mould was only on the very fattest pear quarters – and, yes, they were a little more bendy than the others. Probably not dried enough, I think.

    So I’m hopeful that the second batch will work. I’ve dried them out for much longer, sterilised the jar and oven-dried it, and clamped it shut.

    There’s no condensation.

    Wish me luck – I have 4 pear trees in the garden, all heavily loaded with pears, though some ripen later in the season, so I’m really keen to make this work. I’ve got a number of recipes for dried pears, and they are terribly expensive at Julian Graves wholefood shops.


  7. Dehydration never sounded so good. I tried to oven-dry some cherry tomatoes, but the lowest heat setting wasn’t low enough. (Luckily, I like roasted tomatoes.)

    Can you make fruit crunchy? There’s a company here in the US (Just Tomatoes) that dehydrates anything that doesn’t move fast enough, and their products (apples, berries, peas, corn) have a lovely, crisp texture. If I could do that at home …

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