Thursday, November 29, 2012

Slick Trick Extra Racks

Flat Chopsticks for Ventilation

I have enough racks for two full dehydrators, but the wiring in my sad little ancient mobile home is not good enough to run two machines at one time. <sigh> Sometimes I end up with far more produce than I can dry in one batch.
While waiting for twelve racks of sliced onions to dry, I go ahead and cut the next batch and got them racked.  The problem is, when the racks are nested on top of each other, there is very little ventilation, so there is a risk of food molding.   

I use flat chopsticks to provide a little ventilation between the racks until it’s time to put them on the machine.  They are inexpensive, standardized in size, and don’t roll. 

50 Pounds of Onions

I recently purchased 50 pounds of onions and spent several weeks dehydrating them.  Right now, the retail price for those onions is around $1.75 per pound, but by purchasing them in bulk, I got them for 48¢ per pound.  See my post on Bulk and Wholesale Food Sources for more information on purchasing in bulk quantities. 

You Gotta Have a System:
  1. First thing in the morning, I pull my full racks of dried onions off the machine and replace them with the waiting racks.  Remove the chopsticks.
  2. I set the dried racks aside to cool, about an hour or more, and then dump the dried onions into a large container to stir and cool further.
  3. At this time, I crush them with my fingers, checking for any pieces that might be flexible rather than crispy. This means they are not quite dry. Usually these are wider pieces that will tend to be a bit flexible. I put them back on a rack to continue drying with the next batch.
  4. In the mean time, I put two or three giant onions in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. That reduces the tearing from onion juices when you’re ready to slice them. See my post on Onions: To Weep or Not To Weep for more details.
  5. Once my racks are empty, I set up my cutting board, large bowl, and mandolin slicer. I slice my onions in half, peel back the skins, and slice them thin. 
  6. These are then racked, chop-sticked, and set next to the dehydrator. And the cycle begins again.

Linda’s Note:  Mike told me he wanted to make some French Onion Soup (Love, love, love a hubby who cooks!) 

I decided we would kill two birds with one stone.  Since my machine will only hold two or three giant onions, I decided to set aside the root section for him to use in his soup.  That was a help for me, because I had a good half an inch or more of onion before reaching that deadly blade.  I took those end pieces plus weird larger slices that sometimes develop and tossed them into a bowl, which we stored in the fridge until he had enough onions for his soup.



  1. Do you dry them inside the house, or do you put them outside? I had to do my peppers outside and was thinking onions would be worse.

    1. I dry them inside the house. They don't bother me, but Mike sometimes leaves the room. We live in a small trailer, so there isn't much place to escape. Some people put them on the porch or a screened area outside or even the garage. But I don't have any place else for them.

      BTW, the smell is usually for just a few hours. When I leave the house and come back in, it smells like someone has been cooking a delicious pot roast! (at least, to me it does)