Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Dehydrating vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers!

In the Kitchen

I use a variety of food preservation techniques.  One of my favorite things to do is dehydrate things!  I own 3 dehydrators!  There are so many advantages to dehydrating food:
1. It is shelf stable...no need to worry about the power going out and things thawing or needing to have a can opener
2. Dried foods shrivel up so they take less space
3. Flavors are concentrated since all the water has been taken out
4. Dehydrated food retains more of its nutrients since the food is not exposed to high temperatures
5. Low risk of contamination and no preservatives needed

I have been playing around to see what dehydrated foods we like most the past couple years.  Technically, you could dry almost anything but, when re-hydrated, the texture may be a little different (and may be off putting to you).  For example, we use a lot of pumpkin.  You can dehydrate pumpkin into a powder and then re-hydrate when you need to use.  It just seems easier to me to puree the pumpkin and then freeze it instead of dehydrating it and then having to re-hydrate it again.  I tried dehydrating green beans, but I didn't like the texture when they were re-hydrated (now the chicks and ducks are enjoying them!)  

One thing that I like is dehydrating cut up celery and then using it in soups all winter long.  I also dehydrate mushrooms.  A new thing I tried this year is beets.  I cut beets to the size of french fries and dried them.  Then, you re-hydrate them and fry them up like french fries (I know, not the healthiest recipe).  The beet fries were a hit and it's not like we are eating these everyday.  
Dried beet "fries"
Another thing I experimented with is zucchini.  I shredded some and I cut some in long lengths and then I could use them as lasagna noodles.

If you have a cherry tomato plant, you know how prolific they can be.  I made "sun-dried" tomatoes with the cherry tomatoes.  I made so many of these that we are now feeding a good amount to the chicks and ducks too!

I also like to dry flower petals.  Since they are so dainty, I don't even bother with putting them in the dehydrator.  I just let them sit out on a screen.  I use the flower petals to make tinctures and healing balms.  Also, we feed them to the chicks and ducks (boy, the chicks and ducks are really spoiled...)

This past fall, Mary came to the farm to work.  One of her main duties was to dry herbs.  Here she is drying some yarrow leaves.  We are now feeding these leaves to the chicks and ducks.  She also dried kale, comfrey, anise hyssop, catnip, echinacea, sage and bee balm.

I ended up with a nice variety of dried herbs/flowers that we are now feeding to the chicks and ducks each day!
There are many benefits to feeding herbs to your chickens.  There is a great article about this at Timber Creek Farm.  Here is one of their images showing some of the advantages of herbs for chickens:
You can also dry fruit.  I dried some cherries last summer and yesterday, I put some frozen currents in the dehydrator.  I think most people have eaten banana chips or dehydrated apple rings.  These are convenient, go-anywhere snacks to take when you are on the run.  The possibilities are limitless on what to dry and consume!  Consider dehydrating for a great food preservation technique!

No comments:

Post a Comment