By Nellie Palmer
With winter approaching and fall harvest in sight, having a variety of ways to store vegetables can be vital.
Freezing and canning are fine, but what about dehydration? Dehydrating vegetables is easy to do, even if you are not a regular gardener with a dehydrator. Since root vegetables are mostly water and fiber, it’s fairly easy to rehydrate vegetables for soups on cold winter days. Simply follow the instructions we found at www.seedtopantry.com and be on your way to preparing dehydrated vegetables for your snacks, casseroles and soups.
How to Dry Veggies in the Oven
- Set your oven to 140 degrees or its lowest setting (some ovens won’t set below 170).
- Use the convection setting if available. The convection setting mimics a food dehydrator by circulating heated air in the oven and reducing the drying time needed.
- Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
- Blanch raw vegetables until crisp-tender. Rinse to cool.
- It is not necessary to blanch raw onions, mushrooms, greens, zucchini or peppers.
- Raw vegetables that must be blanched before drying include carrots and other root vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower and winter squash.
- It’s possible to blanch small amounts of vegetables in the microwave.
- Frozen vegetables that have been thawed may also be dehydrated. Blanching is not necessary for vegetables that have been previously frozen.
- Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends placing a cooling rack (like those used for cookies) on the baking sheet and placing the cut vegetables on the rack. However, you can spread the cut veggies directly on the baking sheet.
- Dry vegetables until they are brittle, occasionally turning the vegetable pieces. Timing varies, although usually takes a bit longer than it would using a food dehydrator. Using the oven set on 140 degrees with the convection setting, the above vegetables all took less than 6 hours to completely dry.
- Vegetables dried in the oven don’t have to be conditioned like dried fruits as they are dried until brittle, not leathery.
Uses for Dehydrated Vegetables
- Make your own soup mixes.
- Add dehydrated vegetables to purchased soups.
- Use dehydrated vegetables when making casseroles.
- Dehydrated vegetables are perfect for camping or backpacking meals.
- Make your own vegetable powders from dried veggies. Vegetable powders can be used for:
- Broth powders
- Homemade pasta
- Adding nutrition to meals for picky children