ATTEMPT 1: RATATOUILLE
Rating as a dehydrated meal: * (Failure)
Ratings as a regular meal: ***
Serves: 5-6 people
Prep Time: 1 ½ hours
-4 tsp olive oil
-2 onions, diced
-1 red pepper, diced
-1 yellow pepper, diced
-2 garlic cloves, smashed
-1 tsp fennel seeds
-2 bay leaves
-1 tsp Herbes de Provence or dried thyme
-2 small zucchini, diced
-2 cups fresh tomatoes or 14.5 OZ can, diced
1. Dice all of the vegetables into small pieces. If you were planning to make this as a regular meal, you would cut the pieces a fair amount larger, compared to if you were making it to be dehydrated. Before dicing the eggplant, be sure to press it between sheets of paper towel to rid the plant of its’ excess liquids that can become rather bitter, in addition to cutting it diagonally into half inch slices.
2. Heat the oil and sauté the onions in a large non-stick pan until they turn translucent.
3. Add garlic, peppers, fennel, bay leaves, and thyme or Herbes de Provence, and sauté until peppers are soft.
4. Add the eggplant and sauté them until they become golden.
5. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes after adding the zucchini.
6. Add the tomatoes and then add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down and set the vegetables to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are cooked.
7. Leave the meal in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavor set in.
8. Dehydrate: a) Spread vegetables out in a single layer on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets or parchment paper. Throughout the drying process it is advised that you break-up any vegetables that are stuck together.
b) Dehydrate at 135 degrees for approximately 10 hours. Drying times will be longer for some dehydrators. Vegetables should be a leathery consistency when done the dehydration process; no moisture should be apparent.
9. Store in an air-tight container for longest shelf life.
a) Combine equal parts water and ratatouille in a large pot and set for 5 to 10 minutes. Then place the mixture on heat until it becomes warm, maintaining a boil is not necessary.
b) Transfer your pot into a cozy and let it set so it may complete the rehydration process.
Note: This meal can easily be made in partnership with rice, simply just add equal parts Ratatouille and rice to twice as much rice (i.e. ½ cup ratatouille, ½ cup rice and 1 cup water) before boiling and setting to simmer.
Response: My first attempt at making a dehydrated meal started off wonderfully! The preparations were simple aromas were delicious. When I was done cooking that evening, my house was filled with the lovely perfume of garden spices. However, that was where my success met its’ end. The following morning I placed my Ratatouille on parchment paper and left it in the dehydrator for the day, which became the next morning and the following night. By the time my food had been dehydrating for 32 plus hours, the stench it gave off was rancid. My meal had gone moldy; and that was the end of that shortly lived dream. Although I have no successfully dehydrated food to take away from that experience, I gained a better understanding of the dehydration process. After this failure, I was forced to evaluate where I had made mistakes. The only logical explanation that I could conclude was that I had not left enough space for proper air circulation, something I was highly aware of for my next attempts. If I, or someone else, were to ever tackle this recipe once again, I would suggest spreading the Ratatouille paper thin on the dehydrator trays, in addition to leaving as much space between the trays as possible!
Ratatouille”. 2008. BackpackingChef.com. http://www.backpackingchef.com/ratatouille.html. (December 11, 2011)