Monday, July 23, 2007

Dehydrating Cheese

I discovered a way to dehydrate cheese. It's actually quite simple and much cheaper than buying the commercially-prepared long-term storage cheese powder. Of course there's some time involved, so all things may indeed be relative.

Take a paper towel and lay it on a drying tray. Because I have round drying trays with the hole in the middle, I first folded the paper towel in half and then in half again, and round cut the inside corner. That way when I opened the paper towel I have a perfect circle in the center than fit over the hole in the middle of my dehydrating trays.

Spread shredded cheddar cheese (sharp is best) onto the papertowel. A thin layer is best. Then dehydrate at about 135 degrees. Very quickly the paper towels will become saturated with grease. When that happens put down new paper towels and transfer the shredded cheese to the new towels.

I had to replace the paper towels twice. The last time the cheese had hardened enough that I was able to remove them from the paper towels and spread them on the plastic-canvas (see below) covered trays to finish processing.

Once the cheese is completely hard, remove and allow to cool. Then grind to a fine powder in your food processor. The powder can then be vacuum-packed in jars or bags for long-term storage.

I'm going to use my powder to add to several dehydrated soup and entree recipes, such as the chicken/rice/broccoli casserole.

The powder can also be used now to sprinkle on popcorn. Yum!

Plastic canvas as a insert to dehydrating trays. I got tired of small bits and pieces of drying food falling through the slots in the trays. So I went to the craft store and bought some plastic canvas. I then cut and plastic canvas to fit the inside of each tray. It works great for keeping small bits of drying food from slipping through the spaces. It can also go into the dishwasher (just don't use the heat drying function) along with the drying trays.


Pam said...

It may be helpful if you could add some pictures of the process and of the sheets you bought at the craft store. Thanks for the info. I would really like to try it.

Anonymous said...

thanks,,,was using cheesecloth, and it was a real pain picking out dried veggies..GREAT idea...

Anonymous said...

I wish I had read your technique before I tried dehydrating my cheddar cheese.
It melted through the holes and made a huge mess and its all greasy
I wasn't even thinking about the fact that cheese melts... lol
Next time I will use the paper towel method
I have been craving cheese popcorn and since I cannot eat processed food I thought what the heck ill make my own cheddar topping
Next time I think it will go easier using paper towels

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that plastic canvas is food grade plastic. Am not sure how you could verify. It would be safer to find something similar that is definitely food grade. Not all #2-7 plastic is and I'm not sure what number is assigned to plastic canvas. Finding a silicone sheet or using the liners designed for making fruit leather would be safer.

Anonymous said...

I use the round disposable pizza pans with a hole cut un the middle

Paul Smythe said...

I called the maker, Darcie, of the plastic canvas I purchased and was told the type of plastic is linear low density polyethylene. I then looked that up and found out that it is one of the plastics that is extremely safe for food. I can't post a link but google Linear Low Density Polyethylene

Email Your Questions said...

Thanks Paul for your diligence to research the food safety of using plastic canvas in food dehydrating.

Anonymous said...

@ Paul Smythe

I too bought the Plastic Canvas at Walmart, researched and found it is EXTREMELY food safe plastic. Polyethylene to be exact and I called my local university food science department and asked pertinent questions. I feel very confident about using Plastic canvas in temperatures up to 210.

Anonymous said...

Not certain what brand your dehydrator is but mine has premade screens available for it from the manufacturer. They work great.

Sheryl said...

I am anxious to try this.
I dehydrate tomatoe slices and even purée my tomatoes and dry them on the fruit leather tray of my dehydrator. After they are dried I put them in the freezer for a couple days and this makes them hard and brittle. Then I put them in my blender and make tomatoe powder.
This might help the cheese to grind up better.