Country Lore: Make Dried Zucchini Chips

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Zucchini is a prolific squash. If you have more than you know what to do with, consider drying zucchini slices for a quick, nutritious homemade zucchini chip snack or to use in winter soups and stews.

The season of zucchini overabundance will soon be here. Before you resort to unloading your surplus in unlocked cars and empty mailboxes, try drying it. The drying process concentrates the zucchini’s flavor, making even tasteless, watery varieties decidedly sweet and nutty. I like to grow ‘Dark Green,’ a good all-purpose variety that is somewhat bland when fresh, but absolutely delicious when dried. I imagine a variety that is flavorful when fresh, such as ‘Costata Romanesco,’ would make for a true gastronomical experience.

Drying zucchini is fast, simple and requires little equipment. I like to wait to pick the zucchini until they are 10 to 12 inches long and fully mature. Don’t let them get much larger, though, or the seeds will be tough when dried. Cut the zucchini into one-sixteenth- to one-eighth-inch slices, discarding the end pieces. Spread the rounds on an old nylon window screen to dry. If the weather is sunny and the humidity low, they can be dried outside.

Alternatively, they can be dried on screened racks in a warm (100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit) oven. I also like to spread trays of drying zucchini chips on the warming shelf of our wood cookstove. The baked zucchini chips are done if they no longer exude moisture when squeezed and are brittle. Store the dried zucchini chips in an airtight tin or jar.

Dried zucchini chips can be rehydrated in winter stews and chili — simply add the dried chips during the last three to five minutes of cooking. But my favorite way to eat homemade zucchini chips is straight out of the jar, like potato chips.

Jennifer Cleary
Sheffield, Vermont

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