Vegetable powders are a great way to use up a dwindling garden harvest when there aren’t enough ripe vegetables to can or freeze. Making your own powders is also a good idea when your garden is producing a food avalanche and you already have more canned tomatoes, green beans, and cabbage than you could ever use. Vegetable powders don’t take up much storage space, and they add extra flavor to many dishes and food mixes. Although the thought of using powdered tomatoes or powdered cabbage may seem unusual, I’m sure you’re already familiar with a few commonly used powders, such as onion and garlic.
Almost any vegetable can be dehydrated and turned into powder. Some of my favorites include beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, spinach, cabbages, dry beans, asparagus, onions, garlic, and celery. Dehydrated vegetables can be safely stored on the shelf, though I like to keep them in the freezer. Vegetables stored in the freezer retain more nutrients, since they aren’t exposed to light, and the freezer keeps dehydrated vegetables crisp, making it easier to turn them into powder.
Use a high-speed blender to powder dehydrated vegetables. You can also use a standard blender, a food processor, or an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. Add dehydrated vegetables a little at a time, and process until you’ve created a vegetable powder. You may want to sift the powder and put the large pieces through the blender again until completely pulverized.
Vegetable powders have many uses. Once you start making your own, you’ll find yourself adding new powder and flavor combinations each harvest.
Seasonings. Good-quality onion and garlic powders are often expensive to purchase, but they’re inexpensive to make at home! Dry sliced onions, leeks, shallots, or garlic for your own seasoning mixes.
Broth powders. It’s next to impossible to find low-salt, high-flavor broth powders or bouillon in the commercial marketplace. Find a recipe to make your own broth powders by searching “make your own vegetable powders” at www.SeedToPantry.com.
Salt mixes. Want a flavored salt that’s more flavor and less salt? Make your own using celery, onion, or garlic powder.
Pasta. One year, I experimented by drying beets for homemade beet pasta. It was delicious topped with homemade, low-fat Alfredo sauce. Squash powder, carrot powder, tomato powder, and spinach powder will also enhance pasta dishes.
Protein boost. I like to cook dry beans and then dehydrate them for powder. Adding bean powder to red sauces and casseroles boosts the protein level, especially for meatless dishes. It can also be a good way to sneak some protein into a meal.
Nutrient boost. Adding vegetable powders of any kind to meals boosts their vitamin content. Just be aware of potential color changes. Don’t try to sneak beet powder or spinach powder into a child’s macaroni and cheese, because the color change will be obvious. Use carrot powder, squash powder, or sweet potato powder to add more “cheesy orange” color as well as a good dose of vitamins. Powder made with spinach or beet greens is a good addition to your morning smoothie, and carrot or squash powders taste great mixed with Greek yogurt and nuts.
Soups and sauces. Vegetable powders add flavor to both homemade and commercial soups and sauces. Strongly flavored powders, such as cabbage, rutabaga, or fennel, are especially nice additions to vegetable soups.
Food mixes. Several of the recipes in my book Mixes in a Jar use tomato powder, onion powder, and broth or bouillon powders. Others include ingredients that could be turned into powder if your family doesn’t care for certain textures, such as mushrooms or garlic.
Have fun and experiment with your vegetables to make a variety of tasty, nutritious powders. You may be surprised what catches your family’s taste buds!
Renee Pottle is a freelance writer, author, and serial side-gig entrepreneur. She has written several cookbooks, including Mixes in a Jar. Renee is passionate about food preservation, gardening, cooking, and real food, and she believes the best gifts come from the heart – and the kitchen.