With the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve had here in Northeast Kansas, we decided it was a good time to pull the solar dehydrator out and get to work preserving our office garden’s bounty for cooler months. Because our SunWorks solar food dryer lives right next to our garden beds, it’s super-convenient to pull out plants that are overgrowing their bounds – such as our dill and marjoram – and process them right away. Talk about fresh taste! Plus, it gives us one more way to use our garden's organic bounty before relegating the plant material to our compost pile.
This week, we had the solar dehydrator set up for drying herbs and greens. It only takes one full sunny day to create dried marjoram, dill and other herbs (shown dried, above right). The dryer stayed up around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so we were out front a few times throughout the day adjusting the venting to be sure it didn't get too hot.
We also pulled up our spinach that was going to seed and pulled off the still-tender, salvageable leaves. After a quick wash, we placed the leaves into the solar food dryer to try our hand at drying spinach (shown in the dryer at left). Within 24 hours, we ended up with tasty, organic dried greens for adding to soups, sprinkling into pasta or incorporating into a veggie dip.
The best part? The drying process is so quick and easy. We all keep looking around for more and more things to throw into our solar dehydrator – it feels silly for it to ever sit empty!
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or Google+.