I first had kale chips a few years ago when my mom introduced me to them. Not knowing what to expect or taste, I hesitantly gave them a try. I was instantly hooked. They did not have a heavily “greens” taste at all, which is what I expected. Instead, they were crispy and salty and “earthy” and amazing. Then, I discovered these and cue the obsession. Now, while I love kale chips, I do not like how much they cost. For some reason, kale chips are crazy expensive. That is why I finally decided I would start making my own.
Doing some research, I learned that kale chips are usually either made in an oven or in a dehydrator. Since I did not have a dehydrator, I went with the oven method. While they turned out alright, they were not exactly what I wanted. They were a bit too chewy. And when I would try and bake them more (in order to “dry” them out), the edges would burn. I tried this a couple of times and finally just gave up.
So then, instead of baking them, I thought I would try dehydrating them in the oven (which is possible according to recipes out there). Apparently this method is better suited for ovens that can be controlled to maintain a low temperature, which is not possible with my gas oven. Additionally, you need the oven to run at a very low temperature for a long period of time. Not only did I know that I could not get the temperature of my oven controlled at a low temperature but I did not like the idea of leaving my gas oven on for 10 plus hours.
It was then, about a month ago, that I started seriously thinking about getting my own dehydrator since I love all sorts of dried fruits and veggies. I began researching different brands and looking at reviews. While there are dehydrators that run the gamut of prices, I knew that I wanted the best budget model that I could find. After lots of research, I decided on the Nesco Snackmaster. It had really good reviews and was reasonably priced compared to other models. After purchasing it, I got started dehydrating right away. While I am still learning about proper drying times, I figure that is part of the learning process so I am just having fun with it.
Regarding the Nesco itself, there is a bit of a humming sound when it is turned on but it does not bother me. I just leave it in the kitchen or dining room while I am doing other things around the house. One complaint I found often in reviews was that since it does not have a power switch, it could only be turned off by unplugging it. But then another commenter suggested plugging it into a power-strip with an “on/off” switch to solve that problem. Worked great for me.
The first things I made with it…kale chips and apple rings. The apple rings turned out perfect and delicious. The kale chips, while good, were not as “dry” as I wanted them to be. But I think that was because of the temperature I chose. Each batch I have made since has gotten better and better to the point where I have the right time/temp combo for how I like the chips (hence my decision to share the recipe on the blog). And since I dehydrate mine at a very low temperature, they are considered “raw” too which is a double bonus since that helps preserve most all of the nutrients. Now that I have mechanics of the chips correct, I am totally looking forward to trying out new coatings for them.
If you don’t have a dehydrator or if you want to use your oven instead , I highly recommend doing some research on the web because there are lots and lots of recipes and tips for doing it that way (like here, here and here). One warning though…making kale chips is addicting. I have another batch dehydrating as we speak. :)
Dehydrated “Cheesy” Kale Chips (*vegan)
1 bunch of kale (from my experience, when using the dehydrator at least, curly kale works better but for oven recipes, it seems like flat kale (also called lacinto or dinosaur) works best)
1/4 cup of cashews (soaked for over 2 hours)
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP – 1 1/2 TBSP of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash your kale and dry it as well as you can.
2. Place all the other ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
3. Place kale in a bowl (I did mine in two parts). Add the dressing and massage it into the kale using your hands. Once all kale is coated, layer the kale out onto the dehydrator sheets. Do not overcrowd the kale or it will not dry properly.
4. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 10-12 hours.
5. If you don’t end up eating all of the kale right then, store gently in a container that has plenty of space so the kale does not get crushed (for very short term storage, I use brown lunch bags). Bon apetit!
I am totally on a dehydrator kick now and am excited to try all sorts of things, including other “raw” foods. Would love to know if you dehydrate using a dehydrator or oven (or other method?) and what you like to dehydrate. :)