Wednesday, June 11, 2014

the tale of the dehydrated cauliflower flakes

For a while now I've had a dream of a big carton of dehydrated cauliflower flakes, a la instant mashed potatoes. Because I love mashed cauliflower, but one of my favorite past times is putting in an inordinate amount of time on one task just to make another task down the road faster and easier. I googled around and couldn't find that anyone had attempted this exact scenario, so I thought, well, why not give it a try?

So, a couple weeks ago, I started a test run with a single head of cauliflower.

in case you forgot what cauliflower looks like
 I decided to cook it, then mash it, as if I was just going to serve it up.

chopped into manageable pieces
make-shift steamer basket of tin foil
makeshift lid of tin foil. look, I never said I had a fully stocked kitchen
poking with a skewer to determine done-ness
I originally tried using a hand masher. HAHA NO. technology to the rescue!
since my plan was to dehydrate this, I didn't add anything except some water to help liquefy the cauliflower. no butter, no flavorings.
one head of mashed cauliflower fit 2 Excalibur trays
I stuck the trays in my dehydrator for a fairly long time, at a low temperature. The next day, I had cauliflower that resembled a desert.

aerial shot of Death Valley? or dehydrated cauliflower? you decide!
it released from the Paraflexx sheets fairly easily and crumbled into large-ish flakes
one head of cauliflower, dehydrated. this is a quart-sized bag
Now I fully intended to attempt rehydration in a day or two, since this was just a test run. But I kept forgetting about it/making other things and I only just got around to cooking it back up the other night. If I had known I wouldn't be eating it for a couple weeks I would have stored it better than just a ziplock bag, but oh well.

Here it is after a couple weeks of sitting in a bag:

the dehydrating process added some browning, but it seems to have browned even further while in storage
Now, the dehydrating was totally the easy part. Here comes the experimental part. Because while I had this vision in my head of the cauliflower flakes acting exactly like instant mashed potatoes, my more realistic side forced me to acknowledge that probably was not going to be the case. But I forged ahead with a simple rehydration/cooking process.

added approximately 2 cups boiling water
covered with plastic wrap and let sit a few minutes
seems rehydrated? and hot enough? tasting confirms it has retained the cauliflower taste
mixed in a chunk of butter, some seasonings.
annnnnnd plated!
Texture-wise, it ended up like slightly lumpy mashed potatoes. Chris doesn't enjoy the usual watery result of fresh mashed cauliflower, so he liked this drier/lumpier version. But I imagine it could be thinned out with more water, or milk/cream to adjust for individual tastes.

Flavor-wise, it tasted just like mashed cauliflower as usual. With butter and salt, it was a yummy addition to the plate.

Eye-appeal wise, I have to admit the browning was slightly off-putting. But I think after a few more times of making and eating it I'd get over it. It's just cosmetic, as I detected no off flavors. Or, there might be some way to prevent it. Perhaps I had my dehydrator temperature up too high, even at the low temp I set it at. I'll have to look into that possibility. I think the slight browning would matter less if this were to be mixed with something (like diced veggies/meats) and formed into cauliflower patties, cooked on the stove. That sounds good actually, now that I think about it, hah.

All in all, I think this was a fairly successful first attempt. Now I know it can definitely be done, at least! I might try some more fine-tuning of the technique before attempting large-scale production. I must zero in on my dream of instant mashed cauliflower!


  1. Y'know, I've long been a proponent of effort when you have time to make things easier when you don't. This seems like one of those things that would be pretty awesome. Bookmarking for when I finally have a dehydrator!

    1. Yay, if you end up doing it let me know how it goes for you! Dehydrators are so handy. I got my first dehydrator at a thrift store for only ten bucks and it lasted me years. A worthy investment!