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Dehydrated Vegetables Extends the Season

September 9, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADehydrating vegetables is an easy way to create “instant” meals from scratch as well as store your produce in a way that even if the power goes out it won’t spoil and – even better – you have easily prepared food to eat! This is a win win win situation and yet one that too many people overlook!

Processed dehydrated foods have been a billion dollar industry. From the instant cup of soups to the boxed potato dinners to the “add boiling water” casseroles we love instant. Many don’t like the preservatives and question the things in the ingredient labels they can’t pronounce. Perhaps there’s food allergies in the family or you want to get away from artificial dyes and colorings. There are many reasons to look at dehydrated vegetables.

Dehydrating is easier and more reliable than ever with modern dehydrators and food slicing equipment. Blanching or steaming vegetables helps insure a quality product both in drying and in rehydrating. Some items such as potatoes may discolor, although I’ve found blanched ones shredded or cut finely are less likely to discolor than large pieces.

Small vegetables such as peas, corn and like sized items generally dry faster than such things as sliced carrots. Keep slices under ¼” thick for best drying. A controlled temperature of under 140F will dry without further cooking the vegetables. Proper storage and packaging in airtight containers is important for maximum care. Use sliced mixed vegetables in casseroles, or diced and dehydrated in vegetable soup.

Add seasonings or sauces, combine them in stews or your own prepackaged ‘instant’ meals. You can also find creative and tasty dishes using your home dried foods. For example cut carrots diagonally and dry thoroughly. Use 1 ½ cups dried carrots and pour boiling water over to rehydrate them, simmering gently until plump then drain off excess liquid if there is any. Stir in 2 tablespoons each butter or margarine, brown sugar and Dijon style mustard along with ¼ teaspoon salt (optional) for 4-6 servings of glazed carrots.

Hash browns are another item easily used many ways. Vegetable soups, hobo stews, chowders and homemade from scratch pot pies are other ways to stretch the season out using dehydrated vegetables. You can even shred carrots, zucchini and other foods and dry to use in cakes and breads.

Dehydrating foods has long held a place because it works well. It doesn’t rely on electricity to keep it frozen, it is easily used even over a campfire and offers nutrition while making the most of the harvest.

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