For many various reasons, folks are becoming more interested in how to preserve food for later use. One of my favorite methods of food preservation is dehydration or drying. Potatoes are a main- stay of many families, and are a food which most folks are uncertain about drying themselves. Can this be done? Of course! The difference you will see in your home dried potatoes and the ones you purchase in the stores, is in color. This is due to the fact that the commercial dehydration process also bleaches the potatoes in order to make them appear more appetizing to the public. I suggest that you store your dried foods in jars or bags, in a cool, dry place just as you would any other home preserved food. I save mayonnaise and applesauce jars for this purpose because they are a great size, and of course, recycling is cheaper than purchasing new jars.
Home Dried Potatoes
Peel desired amount of potatoes and slice into rounds 1/8 inch thick. (Peeling is optional- there are important vitamins and minerals stored in the potato skins, but they look nicer peeled, so choose according to your personal preference.) This can be done quickly with a food processor or slicer. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Put potato slices into a vegetable basket and plunge the basket into the boiling water and wait for the water to return to a boil. Once the water is boiling, start counting off 8 minutes of blanching time. While potatoes are blanching, set up a large mixing bowl in your sink and fill it with ice water. When the potatoes have blanched for 8 minutes, plunge the basketful of potatoes immediately into the ice water and let them sit there for 15 minutes. Spread the blanched potato slices in a single layer between paper towels and blot them dry.
If you are not using a dehydrator, spray cookie sheets with vegetable oil spray (do not use regular cooking oil); if you are using rimmed baking pans, spray and use only the upside down bottoms of these pans to prevent scorching near the pan's raised rim; if you are using Teflon cookie sheets, there is no need for spray. Spread potato slices on the prepared sheets or pans as close together as possible but in a single layer. Place cookie sheets on oven racks and turn the oven on to its very lowest temperature (between low and off). Keep the oven door ajar so that the air can circulate freely and let moisture escape. Make sure that the temperature never gets so hot that your hand feels uncomfortable when held in the oven. This is necessary for thorough drying.
If you are using a dehydrator, place potato slices on racks which have been prepared with vegetable oil spray, placing potatoes close together, but not touching, so air is allowed to circulate between them. Turning is not necessary on vented racks. If you have solid racks, follow the same directions as for turning potatoes dried in an oven:
After 1 hour, turn all the slices over; then turn the slices over every 30 minutes. Drying time will depend largely on your own oven, but you should begin checking for doneness at 3 hours.
The potatoes are done when they become brittle, somewhat translucent, and are not at all pliable. Their color should be pale white with a tinge of yellow; do not let them become brown or even dark amber in color. Some potato slices will dry faster than others, so check every 15 - 30 minutes for slices which are done.
Let the dried potatoes cool thoroughly, then store for up to a year in glass or plastic jars OR plastic bags at room temperature in a cool, dry place.
**You can use the instructions from your favorite pre-packaged potato mixes to cook or reconstitute your dried potatoes, or you can find recipes for dried potatoes and dried potato mixes on the Real Food for Real People website at http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/
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