August 29, 2011

Tightwad Gazette III - Day Eleven

No, I haven’t forgotten our journey through the Tightwad Gazette III. We are almost to the end of this book. Today’s posting gives a recipe, a few tips and an article on dehydrating. I’m hoping that anyone out there that dehydrates food, will respond to this article. But first, here’s a recipe from Amy that uses that ever handy browned ground beef crumbles.

Amy’s Rice a Roni Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup rice
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons margarine (or use cooking spray or some olive oil)
4 cups broth or water and bouillon
Salt and pepper

Brown the ground beef with the onion and drain (or rinse if desired). Brown rice and spaghetti in margarine. Add in beef, onion and rice and broth. Cook and simmer for 20 minutes or til rice and spaghetti are fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Tip One: A reader wrote in to say that instead of buying “Snapple” she mixes iced tea with juice. This is cheaper and tastes better.

Tip Two: After you wash your yard sale tennis shoes or your kids’ dirty tennis shoes, stuff them with newspaper and they will dry faster. My husband is a runner and when he runs in the rain or runs throw puddles, his shoes get drenched. He stuffs them with newspaper and the newspapers help absorb the water and they do dry faster. He’s been doing this for years.

Should you try drying Food?

A reader wrote Amy to say that while she enjoys her food dehydrator, she wondered about the economy of using one. After you factor in the cost of purchasing fruit to dry, and the cost of buying and running the dehydrator, is it a worthwhile product?

Amy talked with 4 people that use dehydrators to dry food. Generally speaking, unless you have a free or cheap fruit source, this type of food preservation (dehydrating with a dehydrator) is purely recreational.

Then Amy questioned if drying vegetables is a valid form of food preservation vs. canning or freezing. Dried food is more compact and can be stored simply. The disadvantages include that dried vegetables have limited uses such as only in soups. To rehydrate some dried vegetables such as green beans, you have to pressure cook them. Only a few vegetables such as dried tomatoes can be used in their dried form.

Good quality dehydrators can be expensive and the cost to use them can also be high. Perhaps a cheaper method would be to make solar dehydrators and lay the food out on wood framed racks of cheese cloth to allow the air to circulate the food. The disadvantage to solar drying is that the sunlight destroys some vitamins.

You can make fruit leather by pureeing the fruit and spreading the mixture to dry in the sun or in your electric oven or in a dehydrator. Amy felt that an electric food dehydrator may be fun to use, but it probably has too few cost effective applications to justify a large initial investment. Solar drying might be a better option if you want to dry a few foods.

I do not dehydrate food but I know some people that do. Perhaps dehydrating food shouldn’t only be looked at from a financial viewpoint, but as a way of diversifying your pantry. I think it is a good idea to have a mix of freezer foods, canned foods, mixes and dehydrated food in your food supply. Also when you dehydrate your own food, you know what is in the final product. There are no additives or other preservatives, just good wholesome dried food. Of course if you are keeping dried food on hand for emergencies, remember to keep on hand bottled water to use to rehydrate the food.

I would love to hear from individuals who dehydrate food and what they feel about Amy’s article. I personally feel that I should try my hand at dehydrating food for the sake of diversifying my food supply.

We will continue on this week with our discussion of the Tightwad Gazette III. We should be winding up the discussion in a few days.


Anonymous said...

After losing my full fridge of food due to Hurricane Irene, I am considering different methods of food storage. It really does hurt the pocketbook while living on a tight budget! I'm trying not to focus on it because we are safe and all is well otherwise. Having an extra freezer is great, but if I did not have an alternate place to store my frozen food, I would have lost that too, which would have been even much more costly. I think dehydrating is a good method also, and something I'll be looking into.


Martha said...


How long were you without power? That is one thing that I always worry about with having food in the freezer. Of course, the majority of time we lose power here in Iowa, is during snow storms and I can always put food in a container outside.