11/12 Edible Gardening 101: Drying and Dehydrating
When is dehydrating and drying right ? Well, I ask you when is it wrong?!?
Right now, on my shelves are jars of dried herbs, spices, mushrooms, fruits, chili peppers, tomatoes and tomato skins, tea flavorings, and medicinal herbs. I feel like a little powerful when I’m stocked up on all things dried. A little witchy.
During the summer, I love grabbing bunches of herbs to hang and dry in the kitchen. It is most romantic ! Well, probably not for normal people but for gardeners, it’s a love language.
I use a dehydrator, and for years I used a small $40 round one until I was gifted a bigger one-a six tray Cabellas model I just love (thanks brother dearest! ).
I make my own dried herbs and vegetable powders. Onion, chili, and garlic powders, chives, parsley, thyme, basil, sage, tarragon, dill, oregano,and rosemary all come from our garden produce throughout the whole year, not really just one season. Recently some onions we were storing were starting to sprout, so we cut them up dehydrated them and made them into powder. Dehydrating cuts down on the waste of our hard work.
I dehydrate a lot of fruits as well. Dried apple slices for snacking, dried strawberries,peaches, cherries for cereals,oatmeal, and baking. Dried cherry tomatoes go on pizzas and in pasta, and dried tomato skins make great tomato paste when rehydrated. Dehydrated mushrooms to add to stews and soups is one of my favorite way to keep food stocked and less trips to the store. Beginner’s Guide to Dehydrating Foods by Teresa Marrone is a great book for getting started with dehydrating.
I hate kale fresh however I am able to sneak this power food into my foods when I dehydrate it. I store dehydrated greens in a jar in the freezer to prevent them going off. They are perfect added to smoothies, soups and stews as well. I never know they are in there.
My collection of tea flavorings is expanding. Mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, chamomile and borage all dried and ready to put in a tea infuser. Or just add to flavor water. My favorite refresher in the winter is dried mint and dried strawberry infused water.
I’m just dipping my toe into more dried medicinal herbs. Borage, dandelion, calendula, lavender, chamomile, comfrey and St. John’s Wort are a few dried herbs I keep on hand to make tinctures and balms now but I want to do more. A great book I got for this is Amy Fewell’s The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion.
I love dehydrating: it helps eliminate waste, fills jars with shelf stable garden goodness, and at least one shelf on my dehydrator is going almost all the time.
I saved the best for last- coming up is Canning.
Love Jenn xx