Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Dehydrate Vegetables – Excalibur Week!

June 24th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Do It Yourself

dried tomatoes in dehydrator This is hardly even worth a blog post.

Dehydrating veggies, at least the few I’ve attempted, is so simple:

  1. Wash
  2. Cut in even pieces
  3. Dehydrate
  4. Store

The hardest part about dehydrating veggies, for me, is figuring out how to use them and then remembering to do it.

I’ve only done peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, because those were the items last summer that (1) I really wanted to have on hand all year (2) were plentiful at the Farmer’s Market and (3) wouldn’t fit in my freezer.

Why Dehydrate Peppers at Home?

I stock my freezer with so many things: u-pick berries, chicken stock, grassfed meat, homemade butter, crispy nuts, and yes, Farmer’s Market peppers. I just knew I wouldn’t have room to store all that I wanted to preserve when organic, local peppers were 3/$1 instead of pesticide-laden peppers from Mexico for $2.99/lb. on sale in the middle of winter. (Peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list, you know.)

I dried both sliced and diced peppers last year, although now that I’ve used them this winter I would only dry diced. It’s very easy to throw dried peppers into soups and chilis, but I wouldn’t want to use rehydrated sliced peppers in a stir fry or for fajitas. Frozen sliced peppers are perfect for those uses!

The Many Uses of Dehydrated Tomatoes

I sliced and dried Romas until they were completely crispy. Some were stored as is, and I’ve tossed them into chili and used them, rehydrated, on pizza for a bit of a fake-out sun-dried tomato imitation. I need help figuring out how else to use them, though! The photo above is not mine, although that’s pretty much what mine looked like – I tend not to take photos when trying something super new, because I’m afraid I won’t be “expert” enough to post on it…and yet, here I am, posting on it…

I also powdered the dried tomatoes in my blender…which, as usual, was more complicated than it sounded. I thought I’d never get rid of some of the big chunks of tomato! I need a more powerful blender, I think. You can make your own canned tomato paste and sauce with the powder as follows:

  • paste – 1:1 powder to water
  • sauce – 1:3 powder to water
  • soup – 1 part powder 1 part water and 2 parts cream

I’ve also just dumped some powder into my chili when it looked like it needed a little boost. This is a really, really nice way to avoid the BPA in canned tomato products without having to can (or cook) anything.

Dried Zucchini Sneaks in Anywhere

Some folks munch on dried zucchini like chips, but I’m not a huge fan. I tend to toss zucchini into about anything liquid, like soup, chili or even burritos. It’s one of the foods I freeze regularly as well. I would recommend slicing each round in half, as the rehydrated pieces are a bit more chewy, so smaller is better.

How to Use Dried Vegetables

If you’re putting dried veggies into a soup or chili that will cook a while (at least an hour?), you’re pretty safe just tossing them in. The texture will be best, however, if you follow these directions:

  • Place the dried food into a bowl
  • Pour boiling water over the dried food (best to add water to food, not food to water)
  • Allow to rehydrate until plumped up, between 10-60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the food and the purpose you need it for.

My next project this summer will be this tomato “leather” recipe that Lenetta sent me:

1 medium onion, 1 green pepper, 1 garlic clove per 3 cups of diced, unpeeled tomatoes.  Whirl onion, pepper, garlic in blender until fine, add tomatoes and blend until smooth.  Add other seasonings as desired.  Pour puree ¼” deep and dehydrate.  Puree leather with water and seasoning to make a superb tomato sauce.  In the fruit section, it notes 5 parts water to 1 part leather in a blender for a beverage, I’d guess similar proportions (or maybe 4 parts water so it’s a bit thicker?)

I couldn’t try it yet, because I’m just not willing to preserve non-local, non-in-season produce. Don’t think I’m a food snob – I’m just cheap! Tomatoes and peppers are only less expensive fresh than canned when I can get them in bulk at the Farmer’s Market. (Have I mentioned how much I love the Farmer’s Market? Watch next week for the dénouement of the Go Local! Challenge for 10 Questions to Ask you Farmer and my local West Michigan real food resources page.)

Want to make me jealous? What vegetables are already available in season at your Farmer’s Market?

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Photo from ~ The Purple Foodie ~.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Shannon

    I haven’t started dehydrating vegetables, but herbs from our garden.

    Last year I lacto-fermented and dehydrated as much as possible. We still have tomatoes that I need to use up. I did peppers, corn (grain), zucchini, and eggplant. This year I plan to do a mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery), LOTS of peppers, and anything else I can get my hands on :).

    thanks for tips on using up my tomatoes!
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Early Summer Menu Plan and Food Roots Anyone? =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • michelle in Colorado

    On the tomatoes I marinate them overnight in some balsamic vinegar and then dry them to a crisp. They tend to get eaten out of hand when dry. Doing this helps when the tomatoes do not have much flavor.

    I also break them up and add them to rice as it cooks as well as bread. It is really good in risotto.

    My sister uses them in her herbed cheeses.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin

    Ideas for fake sun-dried tomatoes:
    soups (yummy tomato basil)
    ontop salads
    baked in bread (I really want to make tomato basil bread-see a theme here…lol)
    mashed potatos
    on cottage cheese (though I like my cottage cheese plain, I know some like to add fruit or veggies to it)
    in chili
    made into salsa
    used in rice dishes

    these are all on the top of my head. I am new to this so some of these ideas might not be that good…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Greta @ Mom Living Healthy

    I really haven’t dehydrated a whole lot of anything before. My husband just got a dehydrator because he likes to make beef jerky, so he’s done that a few times now. I’d like to dehydrate tomatoes though, especially if I can make sauce and paste as you suggest. Thanks for the informative post.
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..This Week’s Menu Plan =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    Last year, I dehydrated cucumbers. I do not care to eat them as chips; but they were great to throw into marinades and such. We enjoyed that. Funny, I forgot that I have them most of the time.

    Thank you for the tomato ratios. This sounds perfect for my family!

    Loved this post!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Farm Shots by Bug =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Primal Toad

    I love dried fruit and don’t see why I would not loved dried veggies, especially tomatoes. Joyful Abode just did a post on this as well. You both are inspiring me to give dried veggies a try. I will have to look into it more and take action asap!

    Thanks!
    .-= Primal Toad´s last blog ..June Chicago Trip: Severe Storms (Tornado?) & Barefoot Golf =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Ginger

    I’m in a co-op of friends that order from Just Tomatoes (http://www.justtomatoes.com/) on occasion and they sell a cookbook on full of recipes using dry veggies & fruit, so you may want to check that out for more ways to use your dehydrated stuff.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lori

    I dried tomatoes as well this year. The other day I was putting some sandwiches together and was trying to think of something I had on hand to add some life to the sandwiches…I remembered my tomatoes. Needless to say, my two quart jars won’t last long. Note to self: for 2012 garden produce, dry more tomatoes.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tammy

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone had dried the following: SHREDDED carrots,green peppers, onions. My reason for asking is I want to make homemade “instant chicken vegetable noodle soup” to send to our girls in college that will be preservative free. To be spooned from the container put into a cup with water and heated in the microwave. Being away from home when your sick is no fun, so a cup of homemade chicken soup whether its in the mind or the soup itself may help.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tammy,
    Should work fine! I dried shredded beets, and I actually ate them like potato chips. Yum!

    (Sorry your comment got buried and lost for so long!)
    :) katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • becky

    Canning dehydrated toms in evoo and the liquid turned green? Is this bcuz it was in the refridge? Thanks

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Becky,
    Sorry, I’ve never tried this, so I can’t even guess – although some good EVOO does look green in the fridge. ??? Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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