Dehydrating in CVap

events grapefruit dehydrating in CVap

No, That's Not an Oxymoron

If you’re familiar with CVap®, you probably think of it as a “wet” cooking device. After all, the power behind it is derived from heated water vapor. However, it’s also great for dry processes, like dehydrating. Typically, even without water, CVap ovens hold temperatures steady.

Dehydrating calls for relatively low temperatures. After all, the goal isn’t to cook the food. It is to remove water from the food. Critically, our CVap ovens were able to maintain the low 120°Fs temperature range for the extended time necessary to complete the dehydration process.

We tested a variety of fruits and veggies and experimented with meringue as well.

Sam slicing strawberries

 Fruits & Vegetables

Ingredients

We wanted to test our CVap ovens by dehydrating a range of foods, including:

  • Kale – washed, de-stemmed, and torn into smaller strips
  • Strawberries – washed, de-stemmed and sliced
  • Lemon Zest – microplaned zest from fresh lemons
  • Pink Grapefruit – washed, sliced
  • Mushrooms – Shiitakes – cleaned, de-stemmed, left whole
  • Bananas – peeled, sliced

Preparing

After prepping the foods, they were ready for the ovens. This was one of those rare cases where the CVap ovens were used without water. Ordinarily, CVap technology uses two heat systems: moist vapor heat and dry air heat. However, dehydrating calls for dry heat only.

kale into oven
strawberries soaking
grapefruit palooza

The Settings

  • Cook Time: Infinite
  • Vapor Temp: OFF – No Water in Evaporator
  • Air Temp: Range 120-125°F (49-52°C)

The Process – Fruits and Veggies

  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Use perforated sheet pans (*Note – we used parchment paper but found that it hindered the dehydration process. For best results, do not use liners for fruits and vegetables).
  3. Place food product on the perforated pans, single layer and spaced apart. Feel free to add any flavor enhancers or seasonings to the product at this stage. We sprinkled one pan of grapefruit with granulated sugar. Sugar is hygroscopic (it tends to absorb moisture from air). Consequently, it extended the necessary dehydration time longer on that grapefruit.
  4. Place pans into the oven and start the cook cycle. Keep an eye on the products and check progress hourly. Dehydration time will vary depending on the type of product, size of product and expectation or degree of dryness.
  5. Remove product once it reaches the desired level of desiccation.

The Results

The kale maintained a beautiful dark green color. Texture was crisp and perfect for pulverizing into powder. Kale power can be used in shakes, coatings, or however you see fit!

dehydrating shrooms

The strawberries were still pliable, with a slight chew. I think this was because the naturally occurring sugar content is higher. They can used in a multitude of applications.

Lemon zest was fragrant and maintained its yellow color. Lemon zest is great for anything needing an extra kick of lemony essence (not sour or citrus but true LEMON flavor – much like an essential oil type).

Pink grapefruit turned out beautifully. It looked like little circles of stained glass.

Mushrooms were stone dry. They maintained color and shape.

Why Dehydrate?

Dehydrating is an age-old method of preserving food. Removing moisture reduces the likelihood of bacteria spoiling the food (not that our ancestors knew much about bacteria). It’s still a method of preserving, but with the advent of vacuum sealers, foods can be dried and stored. Adding their concentrated flavor to a dish is as easy as opening a bag.

pavlova meringue

Pavlova Meringue

We prepared pavlova, a type of meringue. Although named for Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, its origins are in Australian cuisine. The traditional piped shape of the dessert is supposed to be reminiscent of Anna’s voluminous dresses.

Recipe

  • 12 dozen egg whites, room temp
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 T + 1t cornstarch

The Process

Whip the egg whites, slowly adding sugar until it’s completely incorporated.

Next fold in the remaining ingredients and pipe into desired shapes onto a lined sheet pan. For this pavlova, we made individual little cups, as pictured.

The Accidental Extended Test

Ok, so I was supposed to pull these lovies out of the oven immediately following the Labor Day holiday. However, I encountered an unforeseeable crisis and ended up leaving them in the oven for six days! Thankfully I gave myself some flexibility with a failsafe step. Before I left for the weekend, I turned the program down from OFF/120°F to OFF/90°F.

Although one might expect the pavlova to be ruined after a week, they were still in great shape! The results were lighter than air, sweet, crispy, and with a touch of chew! I think traditional pavlova is supposed to be more like fluffy marshmallow toward the center. That can be easily remedied by decreasing cook time! Ha!

whipping meringue
meringue in a mixer
pavlova in the oven
pavlova oven closeup
chef samantha brown

About The Author

Winston’s Corporate Research Chef Samantha Brown is an industry veteran. She holds two culinary degrees, and has nearly 20 years of foodservice experience. She’s even appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

SDBrown@winstonind.com

Roasting and Blanching Vegetables

Carrots and Brussel Sprouts cooked in CVap oven

Nutritionists have long preached it – we need more vegetables in our diets. Consequently, we wanted to test how CVap® ovens would perform when roasting or vapor blanching a range of vegetables. To that end, tests were conducted in two types of ovens, CVap Retherm Ovens and CVap Cook and Hold Ovens.

Roast Settings: 200°F/350°F in both ovens

Vapor Blanche Settings: 200°F/200°F in both ovens

The goal for both cooking methods was to get the vegetables to 90-95% cooked, just shy of al dente. Primarily, this makes them ideal for a quick reheat, or to be added as a component in a dish with further processing.

 

Blanching

What is vapor blanching? CVap is controlled vapor, it’s not steam. Steam is 212°F+. CVap tops out at 200°F. Our 200°F vapor, 200°F air creates 100% humidity, which acts like a low temp steamer. Consequently, when cooking at a lower temperature, it takes a little longer. Critically, it gives you more control over the product.

For vapor blanching, we prefer to use perforated pans. Primarily, it allows the vapor better access to the food, without ponding on the pans. 

Why blanch? It brings out the color in green vegetables, and stops enzyme process. Because it’s par-cooking, it extends the shelf life of the veggies. Most importantly, when you’re facing reduced labor, blanching enables you to do more without negatively impacting food quality or consistency.

Roasting

Roasting uses dry heat to cook the food. Indeed, roasting can enhance flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food. Roasting uses indirect, diffused heat (as in an oven), and is suitable for slower cooking

Prep:

  • Broccoli & Cauliflower – 1-2” pieces
  • Snow Peas & Green Beans – strung
  • Onion & Peppers – 1” dice
  • Zucchini – not recommended for roasting BUT great for vapor blanch zoodles, 5mm Zoodles
  • Mushrooms – stems trimmed and then quartered
  • Brussel Sprouts – cleaned and halved
  • Baby Carrots – halved on the bias

Roasted veggies were lightly tossed with EVO and salt, then baked on parchment-lined pans.

Roasting – 200°F Vapor Temp/350°F Air Temp

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Onions

Blanched veggies were placed on perforated pans.

Vapor Blanching – 200°F Vapor Temp/200°F Air Temp

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini Zoodles
  • Green Beans
  • Brussel Spouts
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Snow Peas

 

Roasting

Vapor Blanching

 

RTV

CHV

RTV

CHV

Cauliflower

18-20 mins

20-22 mins

6-7 mins

6-7 mins

Broccoli

18-20 mins

20-22 mins

6-7 mins

6-7 mins

Zucchini

3-4 mins

5-6 mins

Peppers

20-22 mins

20-22 mins

Green Beans

17-19 mins

26-28 mins

Brussel Sprouts

17-19 mins

22-28 mins

17-19 mins

26-28 mins

Carrots

17-19 mins

26-28 mins

17-19 mins

26-28 mins

Mushrooms

17-19 mins

26-28 mins

Snow Peas

4-5 mins

4-5 mins

Onions

25-27 mins

27-30 mins

CVap roasted peppers
BLANCHING zucchini zoodles cooked in CVap
mushrooms roasted in CVap oven