Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
Sliced onions in dehydrator
Love Vidalia onions, but are bummed that the season to buy them is so short? Love zucchini, but by mid-summer have them coming out your ears? Wondering what to do with all those luscious sun ripened tomatoes? Dehydrating or sun drying is a great option!
There are many options for purchasing an electric dehydrator in any price range. You can also use screen material to dehydrate your extra veggies in the sun. Just be sure to cover them so flies can’t get to them.
There are also DIY sun dehydrators that you can build fairly inexpensively that speeds up the drying process. I saw one on Mother Earth News this week.
For dehydrating, just slice your veggies in even widths and place on your tray. Set to the recommended temperature (135-155 degrees F) and let the dehydrator do its thing. In a day or two, you will have dried veggies that you can store in pretty containers for display on shelves or in canning jars.
You can also use your oven if the temperature will go low enough. Mine goes down to 170 degrees F. You can dry veggies at temps as high as 200 but you will have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't brown versus dry. You can crack your oven open to help keep your veggies from burning, but that can get pretty toasty in the summer kitchen!
For onions and peppers, I like them really dry so I can make them into powder. I dry Pablanos and Anchos for chili powder. Two pepper plants give us enough dried peppers that we never have to buy chili powder from the store! My husband loves Vidalia onions so we buy them up and dry them so we can use them on burgers year round. 10 pounds of fresh onions provides all we need for the year dried.
Drying concentrates the sugars in your vegetables so you will get an intensity of flavor using the dried veggie in recipes. You can also re-hydrate your veggies to use in recipes through out the winter.
The really cool thing about dried veggies is that no refrigeration is needed! Just store in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use them. If you want to rehydrate your veggie, just place in a bowl of cool water for 30-60 minutes. The water will have lots of nutrients in it so use in your next recipe, to make stock or in your next smoothie. Don't let any of all that goodness go to waste.
We are planning to dry our extra zucchini to rehydrate and grill this winter, we dry onions and sprinkle them on our burger, dried tomatoes are great in salads. The list goes on!
For more tips on organic gardening in small spaces and containers, see Melodie's blog at www.VictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.com.