I will tell you up front the idea to dry cheese was a bit of an experiment because I was not sure, with the fat content in some cheeses, if it would work. My goal was to see if I could dehydrate cheddar cheese for later use and for camping. If I make cheese or buy cheese it is always in bulk so I can vacuum seal it or freeze it, but I still have to use power to store it (as in the frig or freezer).
I wanted to be able to take my cheese, dry it, seal it and stick it on a shelf.
I will tell you what I learned as I went through this process and hopefully this will keep you from having to go through the same mess I did while learning.
What you will need -
Cheese - I used a mild cheddar my first try, but I would definitley recommend a sharper cheddar because they have less moisture or fat.
A grater - or you can go high tech and use your food processor
paper towels - These need to be good quality paper towels. I used some recycled paper napkins and that was not a good idea at all! The oil soaked into the very thin paper napkins and then stuck to the paper and I had to peel the cheese off the napikins tiny pieces at a time. I then switched to thick paper towels and they seemed to work fine. I think when I try this again I will use my Paraflexx sheets for the starting hour or so until most of the fats have released and then switch to paper towels.
Paraflexx is a premium non-stick drying sheet sold by Excalibur Dehydrators that makes dehydrating much easier:
- Non-stick: your dehydrated items slide right off - no more peeling paper off dehydrated food.
- Easy cleanup: just wash with soap and water.
- Reusable and long-lasting: saves you money in the long run. No more buying and cutting paper towels or parchment paper.
To see the selection of Paraflexx Non-Stick Premium Drying Sheets and pick up your own, go to Excalibur Dehydrators.
Okay, let's get started -
Shred your cheese. The finer the better. My grater doesn't go that fine but it worked okay.
Line your dehydrator trays with those good paper towels I was mentioning earlier.
Now take that shredded cheese and layer it in a thin layer on your paper towel covered trays.
I had 5 trays worth in my nine tray dehydrator so I spaced my trays out.
Once the cheese starts melting the fats will release quickly so you will have to change out the paper towels several times. If you're using the Paraflexx sheets, you will need to remove the cheese and dry the fats off of the Paraflexx. This is where the Paraflexx works really well because the cheese just slides right off of it, where with the paper towels you have to peel the cheese off. Now dry the fats off of both sides of the cheese and replace it on the paper towels or the Paraflexx.
As you see in the picture to the right the cheese literally melted to the paper napkin at this point. I should have checked it sooner. So the message here is that if you are using paper towels, check your cheese often so you don't have to peel all that paper off like I did.
Set your dehydrator to 135 degrees and now just wait and watch.
It took about 10 hours for this cheese to completely dry. Then I broke it apart where pieces had melted together; it should be brittle and break apart with a snap. I then took some of it and stored it in mason jars.
The rest of the dried cheese I decided I would try to run through my Grain Maker grain mill to turn it into cheese powder. I figured if it was dry enough then it shouldn't be a problem and if it wasn't dry enough then obviously I needed to dry it more.
The grinding idea was a success. I set the mill to the same setting as when I grind flour and what came out was a beautiful soft powdery cheese powder.
Want to dehydrate 9 trays of fruits, vegetables, meats and more all at the same time just like Christine does? Go to Excalibur and get your very own Excalibur Dehydrator now.