- Health Benefits of Leafy Greens
- Abundance: Preserving the Harvest of Greens
- How to Dehydrate Greens
- Should You Cook the Greens First?
- Homemade Green Powder
- No Dehydrator? Try the Oven!
- More on Dehydrators
- More Greens Recipes
Want to learn how to make dehydrated greens for smoothies and more? It’s easy to make a dehydrated greens powder when you dehydrate spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, and kale!
“Mom, is this a stick in my soup?”
I admit that we eat some weird food around here, but I really wasn’t serving a soup quite that rustic (on purpose). A different kind of “green” to try is seaweed. Learn the health benefits of seaweed and how to incorporate seaweed into your diet.
I’d used some of my homemade greens powder made from dehydrated kale and spinach, but I had neglected to remove the stems before dehydrating it. Dehydrated kale stems are a lot like sticks.
I got busted on a little corner cutting, but I’ll let you learn from my mistake.
This story was originally posted in 2013 but I updated it with some new techniques – enjoy!
As the weather turns from frigid to simply frosty, we here in Michigan tend to shed our coats and open our car windows with great fanfare as soon as the temperature gauge hits 42F on a sunny day.
If you live in warmer climes, you’re sure to think us batty, but believe me: anything other than snow on the ground plus a few sunny rays makes us immediately think of spring.
The daffodils and crocuses agree, as evidenced by the hardy shoots already poking through the garden mulch, hopeful that they won’t get buried in one last springtime snowstorm. The planning for that optimistic greenery had to begin in the chilly days of fall when bulbs are planted, just as planning for summer vegetables usually takes place in January, as seed catalogs cover coffee tables and CSA forms are due.
Last year was our first experience in a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program, where a customer pays a lump sum up front and gets a share of vegetables each week throughout the harvest season. CSAs are notorious for one thing, and it’s that which I’m thinking of as spring’s footsteps are heard approaching at the door of winter: Greens.
The first produce available in many climates and the last to disappear from Farmer’s markets, greens like kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and spinach are notorious for being plentiful in CSAs no matter where in the country you reside.
If eating local and in season is good for you, God must have intended us to eat quite a few greens since they are so easy to grow in so many places. Their list of health benefits is long and varied, so I’m happy to include greens as often as I can and have even found myself buying a random bunch of Swiss chard or kale at the grocery this winter, inspired by last summer’s abundance.
Health Benefits of Leafy Greens
Above: Italian Wedding Meatball Soup with Greens & Zoodles
- High in protein – go figure! The highest vegetable protein around! One cup spinach = 12% DV protein.
- Super duper high Vitamin A
- High Vitamin K – second only to cauliflower
- Great source of folate/folic acid, particularly important for pregnant or nursing women
- Over 25% DV of magnesium, iron, potassium, Vitamin C and manganese
- Decent source of fiber
- Carotenoids and flavonoids responsible for many health benefits
- Protects against heart disease (for multiple reasons!); makes muscles (especially the heart) stronger
- Regulates blood pressure
- Important for development of unborn babies
- Protects against age-related memory loss
- Eye health: prevents cataracts, macular degeneration (age-related blindness)
- Anti-inflammatory (how many issues can this trait treat? Arthritis is just one…)
- Strong bones/anti-osteoporosis
- Good for skin health (eczema, acne, psoriasis) and even preventing skin cancer from the sun (have you seen my info on sun protection and skin cancer?)
- Natural diuretic and laxative (fights constipation)
- Reduce frequency of migraine attacks
For more on the eye and heart health/diabetes benefits of spinach in particular, as well as how to prepare it (the cooked or raw debate) and what happens to spinach after a week from the field, check out my old post on the health benefits of spinach.
As a cruciferous vegetable, kale actually is in a different family than spinach, even though they’re both “leafy greens” and both very good for you. Here’s kale’s one-two punch against disease:
- Detoxifies (increase the liver’s ability to neutralize potentially toxic substances)
- Reduces free radical damage
- Can prevent cancers, especially bladder and prostate
- Good for heart health
- Prevents eye degeneration
- Promotes healthy skin and immune system
- Super high Vitamin K and A (think eyes!)
- Great Vitamin C source
- Almost 10% DV of calcium in one cup
- Protects against ovarian cancer
Kale is actually better for you cooked than raw. Cutting 5-10 minutes before cooking optimizes cancer-fighting agents, and lightly steaming is best. Choose organic whenever possible because of pesticide contamination (it’s on the dirty dozen) and since organic kale has more phytonutrients (the good stuff), also because nitrites concentrate in the green leaves. Source: my post on cruciferous veggies, which includes more on why and how to cook it.
Ready to start dehydrating?
Download my guide to dehydrating all sorts of fruits and veggies!
Abundance: Preserving the Harvest of Greens
Strawberry fruit rolls, our favorite way to preserve the wealth of strawberries we get for two weeks in June…
No matter how adept you get at using up your greens, sometimes you just can’t eat them all in a week. I learned to throw greens into just about everything, and I even ended up putting a checkbox for “CSA Greens?” on every recipe in Better Than a Box, but there were still weeks with “too much of a good thing.”
If you grow your own, you’ll hit a point at the end of the season when you have a heap of leaves that could nourish you through the winter. You can blanch and freeze them no problem, but whether your freezer is getting full or you just want an even quicker solution, I highly recommend trying dehydrating.
Particularly for the purposes of preparedness and having some foods that don’t need to be kept cold, dehydrating is a great skill to learn.
To learn more about how to dehydrate things that might be a little trickier than these greens, for preparedness reasons, gardening, or just eating healthy, check out the Traditional Cooking School eCourse with over 20 weeks of video instruction. Did you know you can dehydrate broth? I didn’t…but Wardee taught me how!
How to Dehydrate Greens
I was inspired by Jenny’s post about super green veggie powder to use my dehydrator for greens at the end of the season, but I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of her recipe, which includes onions, peppers, etc. I’m sure it’s great for soup and eggs, but I really like including greens in smoothies as well, and onions aren’t a great fit for bananas and yogurt.
My philosophy for trying anything in the kitchen is to shoot for the easiest method, the lowest common denominator, FIRST, and then if that doesn’t work, add steps from there.
In this case, simple is wonderful.
This is all I had to do:
- Wash greens thoroughly.
- Pat dry with a tea towel or clean dish towel. You can roll up a bunch and gently shake/compress to get the most water off, but don’t do anything fancy.
- Note: I didn’t do this, but you should take the ribs out. See below for details.
- Spread in a (mostly) single layer on dehydrator trays. (photo above)
- Set dehydrator to 135F (although honestly, anything from 95-150F should work just fine!) for about 2-3 hours.
- Unlike fruits, which may get too tough (but still edible) if you over dehydrate, it’s pretty hard to mess up greens. They’re going to be crispy or crispy, no matter what. This batch was in for about 3 hours, and half the dehydrator was filled with something else:
6. Store the dried out greens in any sort of airtight container at room temperature. Mine are just in a plastic zippered bag, and I also crushed some right in the bag with my hands to make handy dandy “greens flakes” that I can sprinkle into scrambled eggs, soups, or casseroles.
I keep this repurposed Parmesan cheese container next to the stove with the salt and pepper so I remember to use them.
They’re much less noticeable than slightly slimy, cooked fresh greens, and my kids end up consuming more. Score for mom!
The only thing I would change is to take a few more minutes while preparing the greens.
Learn from my mistake. Take the ribs out, especially with Swiss chard. You don’t want to tip your kids off that there’s sticks in their soup (or eggs).
If you do get some “sticks,” they totally disappear in smoothies.
All in all, dehydrating greens is an awesome way to preserve the harvest, have non-perishables on hand for an emergency, eat more greens throughout the winter, and save time and money by buying in season and in bulk.
Should You Cook the Greens First?
As I said, I’m all about doing the simplest method first. However. I read a lot about how we’re supposed to lightly steam our greens to reduce anti-nutrients like oxalates that may encourage kidney stones (not fun!!!).
So if you have an extra three minutes, here’s how to most efficiently add that step:
1. Put a little water in a large pot and get it boiling.
2. Fill your steamer basket as full as possible with washed greens (in the photos, I was using a bag of pre-washed power greens from Costco – I figure it’s more efficient to buy 4 bags and dehydrate some than go to Costco more often, where I always spend too much!).
3. Set a timer for 2:30 (2 minutes, 30 seconds).
4. Lift the greens out with a slotted spoon or a couple forks and toss them onto a clean towel to sort of dry.
5. Refill the steamer basket and start the timer over.
6. Pat the greens dry lightly and transfer to dehydrator trays.
This batch was 1.5 Costco bags, filled 4 trays loosely, and were almost done after 2 hours except for some thicker globs. They would have been done I’m sure after 3 hours but I forgot them all day. 😉
Homemade Green Powder
Seems like adding supplements to smoothies is all the rage lately – and while it’s not THAT expensive to buy dehydrated green powder from somewhere like Perfect Supplements (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!) (be sure to use my coupon KS10 for 10% off if you do!), it’s definitely a money-saver to make your own.
All 4 dehydrator trays, about 2 pounds total of greens (1.5 Coscto-sized bags) fit into this 3-cup jar when they were fully dry:
I dumped the whole jar into my Blendtec (although any blender will do fine as long as your standards aren’t “completely pulverized into fine powder) and ran it until I liked the look of the powder. If you don’t have at least a jar, you may need a smaller apparatus though as the Blendtec almost struggled to get them all because it compresses down so much!
In fact this is all I had left after pulverizing, maybe a half cup:
I have to remind myself that even though the kids can’t taste it and can barely see it, even in eggs, they’re getting a LOT of concentrated nourishment in just a little spoonful of this stuff!
You’ll notice mine isn’t quite “powder” but more like flakes of dried herbs for cooking, which I was totally ok with. It’s barely evident in eggs and totally disappears in smoothies.
More Dehydrated Greens
No Dehydrator? Try the Oven!
My mom has tried just about everything I do in my dehydrator in her oven on a low temp, and she has had grand success.
In fact, the very popular kale chips are basically dehydrating the greens, and that happens even at a fairly high temp, usually 350F.
I admit that although I probably should have tried it just for you, I haven’t, but here’s what I would do:
- Prep greens the same way but arrange on two large cookie sheets.
- Bake in the oven at 200F (or even less) for 20 minutes, then check.
- Check every 5-10 minutes thereafter until you know how long it takes in your oven at the temp you choose (all ovens are pretty different).
- When crispy like a dried herb (think of the parsley in your cupboard), they’re done.
- When they’re close, watch very closely, every 5 minutes or less, because that burnt tinge that happens when greens are in just a smidge too long really has an off flavor that will mess up your smoothies, soups and eggs. Big time. That’s why, even though you could accomplish this at 350F, I would opt for the lower temp because you have a larger margin of “oops” if you aren’t watching as closely as you ought. Life can be distracting sometimes, eh?
To make sure the greens are crispy enough, put them in a bag. If there’s any condensation inside the bag, they need more time.
More on Dehydrators
If you think you might be interested in buying a dehydrator, you can find them at:
- Amazon – all dehydrators
- Amazon – Excalibur dehydrator
- direct from Excalibur
Traditional Cooking School has a class all about how to use your dehydrator! For everything! You’ll be amazed at the course list, and there’s also a free video showing how to dehydrate plums. Yum!
I have to say, I really love my 9-tray. Now that I use it so regularly, I can’t imagine being pinned down by only 5 trays! I love doing huge batches of crispy nuts, green bean chips (below), fruit rolls, and dried fruit in the summer, plus quadruple batches of my soaked and grain-free granolas from Healthy Snacks to Go.
- What I do with my Excalibur dehydrator
- How to make sprouted flour
- Comparison review of Excalibur with a Nesco American Harvest dehydrator (you can still do an awful lot with a $40 machine…)
- How to dehydrate fruits
- How to dehydrate vegetables
More Greens Recipes
- Creamy Halibut with Caramelized Onions on a bed of wilted spinach
- Sausage Bean and Kale Soup
- Sausage Spinach Pasta Toss
- Green Smoothies
- Tuscan Bean Soup
- Cheesy Spinach Bake (kid-friendly!)
- Blueberry Spinach Smoothie (A helpful reader shared 5 ounces greens = about 3 Tbs. powder, to add to a smoothie)
- Potato Latkes with Spinach
35 thoughts on “DIY Greens Powder and the Easiest Way to Preserve Your Greens”
Love the post…just what I need right now to keep my leafy greens from going to waste. Bought way more than we can eat in a week. Question – how does dehydration and whacking in a blender affect the fiber content? I know water is a big factor in how fiber is absorbed in the gut, but I’m obviously putting liquid back into the mix when I use the powder. I just can’t seem to find good info on fiber.
Jennifer, That’s a great question and above my pay grade for sure. 😉 Since it’s easy to find fiber supplements in a powder form, my gut tells me that fiber isn’t altered by physical changes like blending. If you can’t keep greens fresh, this is a good option to at least retain many if not all the nutritive components! Maybe checking fiber content of commercially produced greens powders would give you your answer? I know Perfect Supplements sells some: https://kitchenstewardship.com/perfectsupplements
Good luck! 🙂 Katie
Missed the mark on this article in two categories. What are they? Collard greens are THE king of greens providing over 800% of the RDV of Vitamin K, loads of amino acids, micro and macro nutrients, is a detoxifier, antioxidant and abti-inflammatory – working at the genetic level to Prevent inflammation and so much more. It didn’t even get a mention. Also, smoothies are a poor nutrition choice for people who battle obesity because liquid calories are the bane of good nutrition. Otherwise, the information on dehydrating was helpful.
Interesting points, Pamela — Including collard greens in this dehydrating would be easy as pie. Smoothies for us are more for my kids who NEED more nutrition, to be sure. And “chewing” your smoothie is one good way to increase digestion and make sure you don’t drink too much. I think drinking your calories more applies to empty calories like juice and soda, but I’m not a nutritionist, so I’m sure there are plenty of conflicting opinions on that. Love the info, thank you! Katie
My mom makes dehydrating food all the time and they really taste amazing! It look better to eat this way!
How long do these stay good after dehydrating?
As long as all the moisture is removed from the greens I’m sure they’ll stay safe pretty much indefinitely, although they will lose nutrition over time as they get older just like dried herbs do. I would feel good stocking a year’s supply.
I put my trays from the dehydrater in my car. Roll up the windows, and let the sun dehydrate my veggies. It gets really hot in a car in the summer.
That’s an awesome energy savings!!
Since I have been putting my greens through a food processor before putting them into my dehydrator, I am able to process much more at one time by spreading the green paste onto my sheets thin enough to allow the trays to bypass each other. After it is dry, it is easy to use a spatula and a wide mouth funnel to dish the crumbly results into wide mouth half gallon jars. I then use a potato masher to compress the greens into the jar. I can easily process a half bushel of greens at a time this way in my nine tray dehydrator. What I wonder is whether drying my greens at 125 degrees does the cooking needed to reduce the anti nutrients that you speak about in your blog or if I need to steam them first anyway? I had always thought that the raw greens were better for you.
What a GREAT idea, Carl! As for cooking vs. not, it’s one of those controversial things. There are reasons to eat food raw and reasons to eat it cooked. I like to strike a balance. I don’t think dehydrating at 125F would “count” to reduce antinutrients though, but that’s just my hunch. I am not even sure if much official research is done on stuff like this!
Thanks for sharing your great strategy!
This is a great idea! I’ve been using “greenies” in many things and no one is the wiser. If the greens are powdered, they may even find their way to popcorn topping.
Katie, your post is excellent, great details. God bless! Pax.
I dehydrate my spinach all the time and add it to my smoothies. I even, recently, started putting it in my food processor and making green powder with it. Powder seems to work better in my smoothies. I know I put waaaayyyy to much powder in my smoothies compared to fresh but since I have never really figured out how much powder to use for a cup of fresh I just put a scoop in. The scoop I use is equivalent to approximately 2 TBSP. I think 2 TBSP powdered greens would be equivalent to a whole lot of fresh but I figure more is better for me, right??? Anyway, as I said, I usually do spinach but after reading your article I need to start adding some Kale, also, for the different health benefits. My dehydrator is just a cheap Nesco. I think I paid about $60 for it, but it does the trick. When I dehydrate my greens I tend to pile my greens onto the trays, it takes to many trays and to long trying to do single layers, and it takes a lot longer to dehydrate than 2-3 hours. I just finished dehydrating some spearmint. I had 9 trays piled high and it took about a day and a half to two days to dehydrate it.
That’s what I figure too, Michele, about more is better! 🙂 Katie
I’ve been adding a handful of spinach to my morning smoothie. I love the idea of dehydrating the spinach. That will make it easier to have some at the trailer too. What’s the dehydrated equivalent of a cup of spinach?
I haven’t measured, honestly, but it won’t be much! My mom just took a huge bag of baby kale and spinach, lightly steamed it to increase nutrients/reduce oxalates, dehydrated it, and she had like an INCH in a mason jar when all was said and done! If you really want to know quantity, just measure your cup of spinach, put on one tray, (fill the other trays) and measure when you’re finished. I bet it’s reduced by 1/4 to 1/10! 🙂 Katie
The pilot light in my gas oven provides just the right amount of heat to dehydrate ANYTHING! I’ve done beet chips, kale, tomatoes, and so many other things that I cannot keep count. I would like to point out that pulverizing oven-dried veggies in a spice grinder will produce an excellent vegetable powder, which can be added to the flour when making pasta. You get none of the moisture and all of the flavor and beautiful color. I have owned a dehydrator for many years, but my gas oven out-performs it by miles.
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Katie you are a blessing! Your inspiration has helped me ELIMINATE processed snack food from my pantry and replace it with healthful alternatives that my family loves, make my own yogurt, broth and bread. And now I never have to feel guilty about tossing the remaining kale leaves when I can’t. Eat. Another. Bite. I have sent your Healthy Snacks to Go to my mom, sister and best friend. You are changing the world. One bite at a time. Thank you!
I’ve dehydrated other things but never thought about greens. What a great idea, duh! Instead of slimy, mushy and throwing them out, I hate doing that, I’ll try this instead! I love the crushed and sprinkle idea. We used to use a seasoning from Penzey’s Spices that was killer on scrambled eggs. I’ll have to try to mimic that one myself.
I did this last summer and fall with swiss chard and kale and it has been wonderful. I have plenty of greens to add to scrambled eggs and smoothies. It is so easy as well. I should remember to add more to my soups too.
I spent a lot of time on raw food sites when I first purchased my dehydrator. I don’t recall seeing “greens powder” as one of the suggestions (I probably missed it!) but it seems so obvious now that you’ve pointed it out. Thanks!
Oh gosh. My dehydrator runs for a whole day at least once a week with leftover this…too much that…overgrown these…I love it!
You could also get a CSA for the winter – and have kale all year long! =) Seriously though, the farm that I get mine through has greenhouses and grows greens all year long and we got a big bunch of kale this week. Might have to dehydrate it though, just to try it out.
Can’t wait for spring!
Thanks for the tips on how to dry vegetables. I love veggies a lot and it is great to learn how to preserve them especially when they are in season. I guess it is time I invested on a good dehydrator!
I was really inspired by that dehydrated greens post last summer too. Wouldn’t you know it, our CSA revamped their box system and we never ended up with a week of too many greens! My husband keeps asking me when I’m going to make it but we haven’t had greens to spare yet. Maybe this year it will happen for us. We do love our dehydrator for other things though.
I just found your website today, and I’m so glad I did! My husband got a dehydrator for Christmas and we haven’t experimented with it much, but now I’ve got some great ideas! ( :
I love this idea. This definitely makes use of all those CSA boxes that come before June, and it lets you keep using them long into the not-so-green-prolific months as well.
Just yesterday my husband was looking at some crazy delicious and healthy food I was prepping and said with dismay, “The next thing you are going to want is a dehydrator.” He was pretty much spot on. I had no idea I could use it for these. Yeah!
We also get inundated with greens from our CSA in spring, which I’m looking forward too, but there is only so much salad I can eat. Last year, I tried a recipe for a creamy lettuce soup. Everyone was skeptical, but after the first bite I knew we would be saving that recipe for years to come.
Can you please share this recipe? (Pretty please!)
I would also like a copy of this recipe. Pretty please with a cherry on top~
Here you go ladies:
If the link doesn’t come through then look up Lettuce Soup on Food Network’s site. It’s from Emeril.
Oh, and I have a note on my print out that I used basil instead of the other herbs, since that was what I had on hand from the CSA. So, feel free to experiment with the herbs.