I never thought it would happen to me. It never even occurred to me that a person could get addicted to dehydrating. I was oblivious to the tell tale signs of an addiction when I saw my neighbors’ eyes gleam as they pulled out rolls of dehydrated tomato paste to put in the soup we were making. They said they’d gotten the dehydrator to make meal pouches they could fix when they were back packing. At the time, I thought they were just excited to have a use for the leftovers. I missed the significance of the fact that they had little jars of dehydrated vegetables and herbs stacked in rows on their kitchen counter.
And then Marie left her husband. She was in trying to rebuild her life without him. She’d moved, planted a garden and gotten a dog. She’d also bought a food dehydrator. She’s actually the one who gave me the first glimpse of dehydrating in action. She’d invited my partner and me over to see her new bachelorette pad. During kitchen segment of the tour or her house, she showed us package after package of fruits and vegetables she’d dehydrated. We thought she’d just gotten a little carried away with a new hobby, like people do when they take up knitting or photography. That was until we got to the living room.
Instead of the usual chips, dip and salsa appetizer plate, she had a platter full of dehydrated fruit and another of dehydrated vegetables. I didn’t quite know what to say, so I asked her about dehydrating. Her eyes gleamed like my neighbors’ had when they pulled out the rolls of tomato paste. She all but dragged me into the kitchen to see her dehydrator in action, and the stock pile of what she was going to dehydrate next. The fact that she already had enough dehydrated produce to feed a small army didn’t seem to faze her. In that moment, I knew she’d crossed the line from recreational dehydrating to dehydration addiction.
Ten years passed before I got a dehydrator of my own. We had a garden. The cherry and grape tomatoes were all ripening at once and I couldn’t bear to see them rot. And someone told me how to make flax seed crackers in a dehydrator. That sealed it. I found a dehydrator on Amazon.com that was cheap and got good reviews. Within a week, I was dehydrating tomatoes and making flax seed crackers. Then, I put it to use on our surplus of zucchini, peppers, kale, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches. I played with marinades and seasonings. Soon, just about anything in the kitchen was open game: snow peas, bananas, garlic, onions, eggplant. Within a month, I was dehydrating 24/7, just like Marie! My father started joking that one day Jen would disappear and he’d find me, eyes gleaming, hovered over the dehydrator, looking at a tiny, shriveled version of Jen. This is when I knew…. I’d gotten hooked.