Using my Instant Pot Lux Mini and dehydrator
Today's project is dehydrating boxed mac 'n cheese for DIY MREs. You can also use this procedure for making mac n cheese meals in a jar. I will be making enough for four good sized individual servings. I will be using my Instant Pot Lux Mini 3 quart pressure cooker to cook the macaroni pasta to get it ready for dehydrating. The Instant Pot (IP) is so much easier than cooking pasta on the stove top! You just put the macaroni and water in and let it cook; no need to stand watching a pan on the stove top making sure it doesn't boil over. You can cook the macaroni using the traditional stove top method if you want; following the directions on the box. If you are cooking the macaroni the traditional way, just skip the next paragraph with the instructions for cooking in the IP mini.
The first thing I did was open two boxes of mac 'n cheese, taking out the packs of dry cheese mixture and setting them aside. Then, I dumped each box of macaroni into the inner pot of my IP mini, added five cups of water. I put the lid on making sure it was in the locked position, and made sure the vent doohickey was set for pressure, not venting. I set the pressure time for two minutes (those who have the option, use high pressure). Then I sat back and relaxed, waiting for the macaroni to cook. Once the timer beeped letting me know it was done, I let it set for five minutes (natural release). Then I turned off the IP and did a quick release by pushing the vent release with my wooden spoon handle; being careful not to open the vent up fully to begin with or I would have had water with pasta starch spewing everywhere. Please don't ask me how I know that!
Once the macaroni was cooked, I poured it into a colander that was placed in my sink. I ran cold water over the macaroni to cool it down and then let it sit to drain. While the macaroni was draining, I got my dehydrator trays ready. I used a fruit leather tray and an herb drying tray for two trays and then lined the other with parchment paper.
After the macaroni was pretty well drained I put it onto the dehydrator trays. It took three trays in my dehydrator, it may take more or less in yours, depending on the size of your trays.
I set the temperature on my dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. I checked it every couple of hours, and after about six hours the macaroni was dry and ready to proceed.
Once it was dried, I removed the macaroni from the dehydrator trays and put it into a quart size zip lock baggie.
Now that the dehydrating is done I will let the macaroni sit in the zipped closed baggie over night and will check for any moisture in the morning. If there is any moisture, I will put it back in the dehydrator for an hour or so. I don't expect there to be any moisture, but I always use this method to check for sure. I think I may have a tendency to over dry foods just to be sure there isn't any moisture left in them. You can also place the macaroni in a canning jar with the lid and ring on (not sealing it) and let it sit overnight to achieve the same testing results.
That's it for now. I will be back in a couple of days to share my experience of putting the mac and cheese together in individual meals.
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!