Several people have asked me about dehydrating in the last week or two, so thought I’d do a little write up about it. Dehydrating is my favorite method of preserving what I grow, so think it’s kind of funny that I haven’t really talked about it here!
Dehydrating is a bit easier to do than canning because you prep the veggies or fruits and can let it sit in the dehydrator unattended. Because it’s less of a time investment, I did it a lot more when I was working and going to school and time was at a premium. You are also able to do any sized batches, which is great for those of us with smaller gardens who don’t always have enough for canning.
It is recommended that you blanch most vegetables before dehydrating to” stop enzyme action and enhance destruction of microorganisms”. This chart published by the Colorado Extension gives their recommendations on how long to boil vegetables to blanch. Another option that may be cheaper and easier depending on the time of year, is to start with frozen vegetables which are already blanched.
|Vegetable||Preparation||Blanching Time* (mins.)||Drying Time (hrs.)|
|Asparagus||Wash thoroughly. Halve large tips.||4-5||6-10|
|Beans, green||Wash. Cut in pieces or strips.||4||8-14|
|Beets||Cook as usual. Cool, peel. Cut into shoestring strips 1/8″ thick.||None||10-12|
|Broccoli||Wash. Trim, cut as for serving. Quarter stalks lengthwise.||4||12-15|
|Brussels sprouts||Wash. Cut in half lengthwise through stem.||5-6||12-18|
|Cabbage||Wash. Remove outer leaves, quarter and core. Cut into strips 1/8″ thick.||4||10-12|
|Carrots, parsnips||Use only crisp, tender vegetables. Wash. Cut off roots and tops; peel. Cut in slices or strips 1/8″ thick.||4||6-10|
|Cauliflower||Wash. Trim, cut into small pieces.||4-5||12-15|
|Celery||Trim stalks. Wash stalks and leaves thoroughly. Slice stalks.||4||10-16|
|Chili peppers, green||Wash. To loosen skins, cut slit in skin, then rotate over flame 6-8 minutes or scald in boiling water. Peel and split pods. Remove seeds and stem. (Wear gloves if necessary.)||None||12-24|
|Chili peppers, red||Wash thoroughly. Slice or leave whole if small.||4||12-24|
|Corn, cut||Husk, trim. Wash well. Blanch until milk in corn is set. Cut the kernels from the cob.||4-6||6-10|
|Eggplant||Wash, trim, cut into 1/4″ slices.||4||12-14|
|Horseradish||Wash, remove small rootlets and stubs. Peel or scrape roots. Grate.||None||6-10|
|Mushrooms**||Scrub. Discard tough, woody stalks. Slice tender stalks 1/4″ thick. Peel large mushrooms, slice. Leave small mushrooms whole. Dip in solution of 1 tsp. citric acid/quart water for 10 minutes. Drain.||None||8-12|
|Okra||Wash thoroughly. Cut into 1/2” pieces or split lengthwise.||4||8-10|
|Onions||Wash, remove outer paper skin. Remove tops and root ends, slice 1/8 to 1/4″ thick.||4||6-10|
|Parsley, other herbs||Wash thoroughly. Separate clusters. Discard long or tough stems.||4||4-6|
|Peas||Shell and wash.||4||8-10|
|Peppers, pimentos||Wash, stem. Remove core and seeds. Cut into 1/4 to 1/2″ strips or rings.||4||8-12|
|Potatoes||Wash, peel. Cut into 1/4″ shoestring strips or 1/8″ thick slices.||7||6-10|
like Kale, Chard, mustard
|Trim and wash very thoroughly. Shake or pat dry to remove excess moisture.||4||6-10|
|Squash, summer or banana||Wash, trim, cut into 1/4″ slices.||4||10-16|
|Squash, winter||Wash rind. Cut nto pieces. Remove seeds and cavity pulp. Cut into 1″ wide strips. Peel rind. Cut strips crosswise into pieces about 1/8″ thick.||4||10-16|
|Tomatoes||Steam or dip in boiling water to loosen skins. Chill in cold water. Peel. Slice 1/2″ thick or cut in 3/4″ sections. Dip in solution of 1 tsp. citric acid/quart water for 10 minutes.||None||6-24|
But honestly, I haven’t really noticed a difference between blanching and not blanching. Fruits that brown should also be treated. I simply put spray bottle top right on my bottle of lemon juice and spritz them.
Most fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated at about 125 degrees. There are specific instructions and temperatures you can find if you pick up a book about dehydrating (I recommend The Dehydrator Bible) or google “how to dehydrate _____”. But not all dehydrators have a temperature adjustment and they still manage.
I dehydrate everything until crisp to maximize storage. The food should be hard and plink when you drop it on the counter. It takes me much longer than estimates the extension gives, so don’t worry too much about that. You aren’t going to over-dry anything if you don’t take it out immediately either. When I had a busy schedule I checked my dehydrator once in the morning and once in the evening.
Once done let your dehydrated vegges cool and store in air tight containers. Old food jars work great for this. You can easily store them a year or so this way. Many of mine have been in jars longer though.
Many of the recipes I’ve posted, I’ve tried with fresh veggies in the summer and dehydrated veggies in the winter. Vegetables rehydrate well just by soaking them an hour of so before cooking with them. You can speed up that process (or help along veggies that are tougher like my carrots tend to be) by simmering them on the stove for a bit. When making soup, I just throw them in dry and add extra cooking time.
On average, vegetables will rehydrate to twice their dehydrated size. So if a recipe calls for a cup of fresh carrots, you can substitute about a half cup dehydrated carrots.