Dehydrating veggies, at least the few I’ve attempted, is so simple:
- Cut in even pieces
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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