Addendum to I have a new project – food dehydration…

There’s one gadget I also need to make this dehydrated food project a reality – a vacuum sealer. Basically a simple device, it welds a bag from flat plastic tubing, sucks out the air, and seals it. The problem is – and has been for years – getting an affordable one that actually works.

A few years ago when I was making my own sausages – and I’d love to be able to again – I bought one but the seals it created were rubbish so it was consigned to the wasteland under the sink.

Yesterday, I dug it out, thinking it might be more successful now, in much the same way as the induction hob is (because I was just too ill to figure it out the first time round; and no, I really don’t want to think about what being worse then than I am now meant in real terms). But no, it’s still crap.

So, off to Amazon to see what’s to be had. The best machines – that were (a) affordable and (b) looked as if they might work, were offered by Andrew James. That’s a company that’s all over Amazon’s kitchenware section,** and, normally, I don’t pay them much heed, assuming Andrew James was yet another sleb chef endorsement. Chefs with an eye for a quick buck would put their name on a doomsday device if there was – briefly – money in it.

**Obviously I have no idea what the quality is like, but everything appears to come with a 2-year guarantee and prices are good. When it comes to stand mixers, stunningly good compared to what Kenwood and KitchenAid charge. Definitely worth a look if you’re outfitting or refurbishing your kitchen

This time, though, Andrew James seemed to have what I needed. Reviews for the cheaper models were as you might expect, largely poor, but stepping up a few notches to an optimistically-titled “Professional” machine (er, no, pro machines cost a couple of grand), and I found one with mostly very good reviews, a few poor ones that looked like user error (RTFM, people!), for around £60 plus £7.95 delivery. Then I did something I don’t normally do – went to the supplier’s website for a poke around.

The first thing I noticed was that, mysteriously, the Professional Vacuum Food Sealer with Canisters


was a few quid cheaper than the same machine without canisters, and that delivery on everything was free, making the total price lower than Amazon’s. So I ordered one (I need to wean myself off Amazon, their service is deteriorating). Should be here next week.

Now then, harking back to yesterday and my dried Shiitake mushrooms, I thought I’d weigh them. I started with 120g of fresh mushrooms, there was very little waste, just a sliver off the tip of the stalks to clean them up. Dried weight, 10.7g (tip: if you want scales that weigh down to a tenth of a gram, try an online head shop or Amazon). That’s a 91% loss, and most of it water. Not unexpected.

Today I have a pack of field mushrooms to dry on the radiator – the rate of loss will be about the same – and I have to grind the dried Shiitake to powder, as well as cook a dry-cured gammon joint (this will be an ingredient in my hake, Spanish butterbean and paprika recipe).

Watch this space…