Tip Tuesday: 10 Ways to Put Your Dehydrator to Good Use This Harvest

1. Dry zucchini into chips for snacking, or for re-hydrated dinner sides later on.

2. Make tomato paste or powder from your tomatoes.

3. Turn blueberries, strawberries, and other fruits into "Fig" Newtons.

4. Infuse apple slices with your favorite liquor, then dry them into apple chips.

5. Make margarita-flavored fruit roll-ups using pears... apples work too.

6. Make kale chips or...

8. Make your own cornmeal.

9. How about some red wine mushrooms?

10. Homemade fruit roll-ups, of course - here are recipes for Raspberry Vanilla, Blueberry Apple Ginger, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Mixed Berry.

Dehydrator Fig Newtons from Scratch

Four ingredients, low fat, no sugar added - and delicious!
...Oh yeah, and did we mention: they're pretty dang easy to make.

Makes 12 cookies

- Ingredients -
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz fresh figs (or blueberries, or chopped strawberries - no water needed in this case)
1 cup water

- Tools -
Weston Manual Food Grinder
Weston Dehydrator

Combine the almond flour, milk, and vanilla to create a dough. Set aside.

Grind together the figs and water with your Food Grinder. To do this, add a quarter cup of water at a time. You should end up with an easily spreadable paste.

Figs in the Food Grinder

Pureed fig filling for our cookies

Roll the dough out over a piece of parchment paper, creating a long, narrow, rectangular sheet. You will want the sheet to be about 6" across - length doesn't matter. You can use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into a perfect rectangle if you like. If your dough sticks to the rolling pin, place a sheet of plastic wrap over top of it before rolling it out. Spread the fig down the middle third of the dough sheet, about ¼" thick.

Fold each side into the middle.

Use a pastry cutter or butter knife to cut the fig newton roll into 2" pieces.

Place the pieces onto the tray of your Dehydrator, then dehydrate at 110 degrees for two days, or until the fig center is firm and the cookie is soft, but dry.

Newtons, pre-dehydration

The finished product: Homemade Dehydrator Fig Newtons!


Dried Zucchini in a Weston Dehydrator

We got a little crazy when we decided to try our hand at dehydrating zucchini: We made you not one, but three delicious recipes - Italian Seasoned Zucchini Chips, Middle Eastern Zucchini Chips, and Spanish Zucchini Chips. Each of these is equally as good as dried snacking chips, or "re-hydrated" with olive oil and sautéed as a dinner side. The benefits to dehydrating and re-hydrating are two-fold: 1. You can preserve your zucchini harvest for months after the season is over. 2. Once you re-hydrate, you'll notice the flavors are bolder than if you never dehydrated them! Time to dig in...

Each recipe serves 2-4

- Ingredients -

Italian style
1 zucchini
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Middle Eastern style
1 zucchini
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt

Spanish style
1 zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
2 teaspoons garlic
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt

- Tools -
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Weston Dehydrator
large bowl, for tossing

Use your Mandoline Slicer to thinly and uniformly slice the zucchini.

We recommend a crinkle cut - the ridges catch the seasonings and hold them onto the zucchini better

Combine the remaining ingredients for whichever style you prefer. Toss the zucchini slices in the seasoning mixture.

We use our Manual Kitchen Kit to juice fresh lemons

The Middle Eastern Zucchini slices are ready to dehydrate

Lay the slices onto the trays of your Dehydrator and dehydrate at 130° for 4-6 hours (might be closer to 8 for the Mexican-style). Once they're dry and crunchy, they're ready to be snacking chips.

Italian Zucchini Chips - before

Italian Zucchini Chips - After

Middle Eastern Zucchini Chips

If you'd like to "re-hydrate" them for a side dish, simply heat a skillet/pan over medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil and sauté the dried zucchini. Once they are browned, they're ready to be eaten. There's no need to add water to re-hydrate - the oil will add the moisture you need, without "watering down" the flavor.

"Re-hydrated" Sautéed Spanish Zucchini Chips

8 Things You Didn't Know You Could Make With Your Tomato Strainer

Our tomato strainers are ridiculously versatile, especially if you have a set of screens for them. Sure, you've probably used yours to make tomato sauce, but we bet you're not using it to its maximum potential, and we're here to help...

1. Salsa, in its entirety
Maybe you're aware that we make a salsa screen for our Tomato Strainer - but did you know that you can put the peppers, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, etc. into the hopper with your tomatoes? Put all of it in there with the salsa screen attached, and crank the handle. You'll end up with perfect salsa. 

2. Mashed Potatoes
Seriously, just put your cooked potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, etc. into the strainer - skins on - with the standard screen. Perfectly whipped mashed potatoes come gushing from the strainer. Awesome, we know.

3. Seedless Jams
Trying to keep those pesky raspberry seeds out of your teeth? Easy, just use our berry screen - that's what we made it for!

4. Ketchup
The rumors are true: it doesn't HAVE to come out of a squeeze bottle or some glass bottle that you have to smack the crap out of a 57 to get ketchup out of - you can make it yourself. Use the pumpkin screen to make your thick tomato puree, then follow the instructions in our Blueberry Chipotle Ketchup recipe (leave the blueberries & chipotles out if you're no fun).

5. Pumpkin Pie

What?! Pumpkin pie can be made with real pumpkins?! 


You'll need the strainer and a pumpkin screen to make Pumpkin Pie from scratch - it's waaaay better than the 10%-Pumpkin-90%-artificial-flavors-and-spices Pie you buy at the store. 

Try your hand at our Orange-Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie Recipe (if you're still no fun... leave out the oranges and hazelnuts).

6. Wine
Primary ingredient in wine... fruit juice. Use the berry screen to make yourself some fine raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, pear, what-have-you ...juice. And/or use the grape spiral for, you guessed it: grape juice. Take that, some wine making ingredients, ferment it, and poof: wine. Okay so it's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's not terribly difficult either. Take your fruit juice and follow our Pear Cider instuctions, mostly. You'll have a fine homemade wine. Or our name's not Weston. Cheesy, we know. Sorry.

7. Homemade Tomato Soup
It's ridiculous that you people are still eating from aluminum (or whatever) cans, considering how easy this is to make. Step one: Strain tomatoes with tomato strainer, use standard screen. Step two: add some spices. Step three: heat up, then eat. If you need a more formal recipe, here: Homemade Tomato Soup.

8. Applesauce

"Gaaaaasssp! I never thought of THAT before!" 

We know. That's why we're telling you. 

Cook up your apples, put them in the Strainer, turn the handle. Apple peels and seeds out the waste chute, beautiful apple sauce down the main chute. Add cinnamon and sugar and that kind of stuff. 

If you need a recipe, too bad.

And there you have it. Eight things you didn't know you could make with your glorious Roma Tomato Strainer. So maybe you did. Bet you didn't know all eight. Any other eye-openers you'd like to share? Please, comment with them below - we love stealing your great ideas!

Blueberry BBQ Sauce with the Roma Tomato Strainer

Here in Ohio, we have an incredible group called The Agrarian Collective. They put on super cool events like a Small Batch Ice Cream & Beer Making workshop that resulted in beer floats (they were actually really, really good), a Rhubarb Workshop from which I made a Rhubarb BBQ sauce, and, most recently: A Blueberry Picking Party complete with a Bluegrass band. Yeah, it's pretty awesome and I'm sure you're highly envious of us Cleveland area dwellers. 

The Bluegrass band at Edible Cleveland & Agrarian Collective's Pick, Eat, Repeat Blueberry Picking Party

So while you might not be able to attend Agrarian Collective events in your area, we're happy to bring you little tastes here and there. This time, we made you a Blueberry BBQ Sauce recipe from the fresh blueberries that were picked last week. 

The start to my Blueberry Patch Adventure (complete with Fat Head's Bumble Berry Ale)

A little tip before you start: Rinse your fresh blueberries when you get home from picking, then lay them out on a tray and freeze them. Once frozen, you can de-frost and use them for whatever you have planned... like this recipe. They'll come out less sour and more sweet. Tip courtesy of Voytko Blueberry Farm in Auburn, Ohio.

The final yield of my half hour romp through the patches of Voytko Farms

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Makes 2 cups

- Ingredients -

2 cups blueberries
6 oz Fat Head's Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
¼ cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean - scrape seeds from pod, discard pod
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves

- Tools -
Roma Tomato Strainer w/ Berry Screen
Weston Smoker + smoker chips
(peach, apple, or cherry work best)

Soak your wood chips for at least a half hour and preheat your smoker to 200°F.

Use the Tomato Strainer with the Berry Screen attached to puree your fresh blueberries - no need to worry about leaves or stems, the strainer will push those through the waste chute. Run the blueberries through 3-4 times to get all of the juice out.

Combine the blueberry puree with the remaining ingredients.

Smoke the blueberry BBQ sauce at 200°F for two hours, stirring every hour. If, after two hours, the sauce isn't smoky enough for you, simply smoke longer. Also be sure to change out your wood chips every hour, or the sauce will taste ashy.

Let cool, then pour into a jar with a Canning Funnel and store in the fridge, or use it right away. You could also can it for later use.

Closeup on what's left of the sauce

Smoked Venison smothered in the stuff. If you need a good idea on what to put your BBQ Sauce on, this is it!

As always, your comments and questions are welcome below:

Smoked Pulled Venison with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

With venison from the boss's December hunt, blueberries I picked from a local patch, blueberry ale brewed locally, and green onions from my makeshift front yard garden, this recipe is locavore certified! Don't beat yourself up too much if you're not able to acquire these exact ingredients locally — though we do encourage you to substitute things you can get locally (Pork from your local farmer/butcher, the wild ramps in your backyard, raspberries from the farmer's market?)...

Serves 6-8

- Ingredients -

3 lbs venison
(We used a lesser cut for this recipe since you're smoking low and slow)
6 oz Fat Head's Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

a dozen or so blueberries
two sprigs green onions, chopped

- Tools -
Weston Smoker
wood chips (peach, apple, or cherry are ideal)

Soak your wood chips (for at least a half hour), fill the smoker's water bowl with hot water, and preheat your smoker to 200°F.

Rub the entire outside of the venison with a mixture of cinnamon and chili powder. Place it in an aluminum pan and pour the Bumble Berry into the bottom of the pan. Smoke 8-12 hours, until the venison falls apart and has a full, smoky flavor.

If you're making your BBQ sauce at the same time as the venison (we did), simply place a pan of the sauce in the smoker 4 hours before the venison should be done. Two birds, one stone.

Once the venison is fork tender, pull it apart with two forks, until completely shredded. Pour the Blueberry BBQ Sauce over top, then sprinkle with blueberries and onions. Serve immediately, hot.

Espresso Maple Bacon — From Scratch

Makes one pound

- Ingredients -
1 lb pork belly
1 shot espresso
(if you don't have espresso, use ¼ cup dark roasted coffee, made at the ratio of 6 tablespoons coffee to ¼ cup water)
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pink cure
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground espresso (or dark roast coffee)
1 tablespoon sugar in the raw

- Tools -
Weston Vacuum Sealer + bag
Weston Smoker
Peach Wood Chips (you can use any, but peach are ideal)
Basting brush
Weston Meat Slicer

Follow our detailed instructions for How to Make Your Own Bacon, From Scratch.

Marinate the pork belly in the brine ingredients 3-7 days in a sealed vacuum bag
Smoke the marinated pork belly for a couple of hours at a low temperature
Before it's finished smoking, coat the bacon in syrup, espresso, and sugar
After allowing it to rest, slice through the bacon with a Meat Slicer

Perfectly crisp, roasty bacon.

Have questions about making your own bacon, or this recipe in particular? We'd love to hear from you - post in the comments section below:

Maple Bourbon Bacon — from Scratch

Makes one pound

- Ingredients -
1 lb pork belly
½ cup bourbon
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pink cure
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar in the raw

- Tools -
Weston Vacuum Sealer + bag
Weston Smoker
Peach Wood Chips (you can use any, but peach are ideal)
Basting brush
Weston Meat Slicer

Follow our detailed instructions for How to Make Your Own Bacon, From Scratch.

Marinate the pork belly in the brine ingredients with your Vacuum Sealer

Once marinated, smoke the pork belly
Once it's just about done smoking, glaze and coat it
Once the bacon has rested, use a Meat Slicer to slice it as thick or thin as you like
Perfectly sliced bacon

This crispy homemade bacon has been baked in a 400° oven for 15 minutes. 

Have questions about making your own bacon, or this recipe in particular? We'd love to hear from you - post in the comments section below: