Learn how to prevent—or solve—this problem
Do you have trouble getting your dehydrated foods off the trays? Food high in sugars can be the worse to remove from our trays when dry. Try these simple hacks.
To Preventing Sticking:
√ Do not slice your food too thin. The standard thickness that works for most foods is 1/4 inch (6 mm). However, the higher the water content of a given fruit or vegetable, the larger it should be sliced because it will shrink more in the dehydration process. Produce like tomatoes and watermelon fall under this rule. Slicing tomatoes, because of their lacy structure, are easier to dry on solid (fruit roll-up) trays. To make uniform slices try this CHEAP cutting hack here.
√ Leave the food in the dehydrator long enough for the outside to get dry and slightly firm on the outside (not wet to the touch), then turn it over. Once you have that crust on it, it shouldn’t stick.
√ Use the plastic mesh screens they sell as accessories for small items or solid trays they sell for fruit roll-ups. When anything sticks to them, just bend the screen and they come right off. Tomatoes like to stick down in the grooves, but they are no problem to remove with the screens. It’s made with a more flexible plastic than the trays themselves and if something does stick, it was flexible enough to bend it and peel off whatever was sticking.
√ Use parchment paper. Dried apples, pears, pineapple, bananas and other fruit just pop right off the paper when the drying is complete. Use a good-quality, thick parchment paper. The cheaper ones, I have found, just confound the problem of sticking to the paper itself.
√ Some folks use cooking oil spray such as Pam and spray their trays lightly. Make sure to use the non-flavored kind. If you do not like to use anything in a spray can, just moisten your fingers with oil and rub on the trays or pour on a paper towel then wipe a thin coating on the dehydrator trays. I don’t like the idea of using Pam because the oil shortens the shelf life of dehydrated foods. However, If you are not storing the food for a long time, it is okay.
For Food Already Stuck to the Trays:
√ For hard trays (like Nesco), if you press the underneath side of the tray GENTLY it will lift the stuck on food and pop off.
√ Put the tray in the freezer for at least an hour. Then, while the food is cold, use your fingers to push GENTLY from underneath to try to pop off the food.
√ Mist the slices just enough with water to wet the pieces and allow to stand until that it releases from the tray. Re-dry on solid trays, mesh tray inserts, or parchment. For parchment paper sticking, a wet paper towel placed on the underside will usually loosen up the food enough to remove it.
√ If all else fails, you can use a strong bristled brush to remove food into a bowl or pan and grind for powder to use in your cooking.
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