Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth are both dedicated to classic Southern dishes as well as addicted to modern technology. Here, they share a handful of the many reasons we're adding a dehydrator to our holiday wish list.

December 11, 2014

We are obsessed with the salty-sweet fried chicken at Root & Bone in New York City, and one of the secrets of why it's so crazy delicious is the ground dehydrated lemon that it's tossed with. As it turns out, chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth are both dedicated to classic Southern dishes as well as addicted to modern technology, like their food dehydrator, which they couldn't live without. Here, they share a handful of the many reasons we're adding a dehydrator to our holiday wish list.

1. We dehydrate lemon, grind it up and then toss it with our fried chicken.

2. We dehydrate grapes until they are plump raisins, then pour pickling liquid over them.

3. We make apple chips by brushing thinly sliced apple with maple syrup and dehydrating them.

4. We dehydrate cherry tomatoes for our shrimp and grits. They become like mini, juicy sundried tomatoes.

5. We make salumi using different Old World techniques, but we also use the dehydrator as a time machine to speed up the fermentation and drying-out process for our spicy pork snack sticks, which are like little Slim Jims.

6. When we make jam, a white, fluffy foam floats to the top. We spoon it onto a Silpat or sheet pan and shove it in the dehydrator overnight. It turns into a really unique fruit roll-up. If you dehydrate it for longer, it turns into crystalline, crunchy dehydrated fruit chunks, which we use to garnish desserts.

7. We juice ginger and spead the pulpy fibers on a sheet pan to put into the dehydrator. It turns into a spicy ginger crunch that we use in cocktails and on grilled pumpkin.

8. When we were growing our own herbs this spring, from time to time we had a lot of extra and would use the dehydrator to dry them out.

9. For Thanksgiving, we loaded our dehydrator with leftover cornbread, which became our holiday stuffing.

10. We put overcooked rice in the dehydrator for a day, then throw it in the fryer. It pops up like little puffed rice cakes.

11. We put ketchup or barbecue sauce in the dehydrator and make ketchup or barbecue sauce paper. It's as simple as spreading a thin layer of sauce on a Silpat or sheet pan and leaving in the dehydrator overnight. The next day it pulls off and is rubbery. You can wrap a sticky string of ketchup around a potato, or put a sticky sliver of barbecue paper over a piece of chicken.

12. Pickle powder!!! We dehydrate pickles, then crunch them up to sprinkle on french fries.

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