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How to dry and dehydrate fresh produce

How to dry and dehydrate fresh produce

Preservation cupboard with dried fruit

Kev dries 400 apples annually!
Picture: An English Homestead

How would you want to get pleasure from dried chillies, vegetable crisps, and tomatoes all yr spherical? In actual fact, you possibly can dry a variety of fruit, greens, and herbs – it’s a wonderful approach to protect homegrown harvests for future use. 

There’s nonetheless time to give it a strive – order a couple of garden-ready vegetable plants should you didn’t have time to sow your individual. We requested a few of our favorite grow-your-own bloggers to share their tried and examined strategies for drying and dehydrating fresh produce. Listed below are their high ideas…

What gear do you want to dry or dehydrate fresh meals?

Dehydrated tomato crisps

Monika makes use of a dehydrator to make tomato crisps seasoned with salt and garlic pepper
Picture: @monikabrzoza

You don’t want any specialist gear for drying surplus fruits and greens – an oven does the job completely properly. If you happen to’d like to take issues to the subsequent stage, a dehydrator permits you to dry larger batches extra persistently.

Skilled gardener Monika of @monikabrzoza, says: “You will need jars (or in my case hundreds of jars) to put your preserves and pickles in. That’s easy. Just ask your friends, family, co-workers, next door neighbours (or everyone who lives in your street in my case) to save them for you 🙂 Recycle & reuse.

Sterilise jars earlier than use by taking a leaf out of Claire Rees’ ebook. The inexperienced fingers behind @pegsplot, she says. “I sterilise my jars in the oven – I wash them with soapy water, rinse with boiling water, empty and then add to the oven for about 10 minutes.”

Air drying fresh fruit and veg

Air drying herbs and flowers

Monika air dries her herbs at residence
Picture: @monikabrzoza

The best approach to dry your produce is just to put it in a heat, dry spot with good airflow and let nature take its course. Eli from In the Garden with Eli and Kate shares this easy approach to dry chillies:

“Get yourself a needle and thread (I know it sounds weird but go with me on this), and sew them together, importantly, though, don’t pierce the actual body of the chilli, pierce the needle through the stem and then thread them all on there like a big necklace.Then hang that in your airing cupboard and forget about it.”

Air drying actually is a simple approach to protect produce and anybody can do it. As Monika says, “My half plot allotment is mostly herb garden. I hang them indoors and then store them in jars and it works really well.”

Oven drying fresh fruit and veg

Dried apple slices for snacks

Monika’s dried apples make a pleasant winter snack
Picture: @monikabrzoza

Oven-drying is a good way to make fruit and vegetable crisps, dried fruit snacks, and additionally vegetable powders to give your soups and stews a burst of additional goodness and flavour by way of the winter. It’s a easy course of too – slice produce like apples, plums, parsnips, radishes, carrots and beetroot into skinny slivers. Wash and pat dry leafy veg like kale. Now place your produce on baking trays and put them within the oven on a low warmth.

Take a look at fruit to see if it’s prepared; when it seems barely shrivelled, take a knife and minimize a slice in half. Study the blade for droplets of moisture; should you spot any, you need to return the tray to the oven for a bit longer. Veg must be brittle sufficient to snap simply. When it’s finished, enable your crisps to cool earlier than transferring them to clear, hermetic containers and storing in a darkish cabinet.

Bumper horseradish harvest? Claire Rees at @pegsplot suggests drying it to give all types of recipes an additional kick:

I had a big patch [of horseradish] growing at my allotment and it doesn’t keep for very long when fresh. I grated the horseradish, spread it on lined baking trays and cooked on the lowest oven setting I had (30-40 degrees celsius) for about 5 hours until completely dry. Once cool, I blitzed it into a powder. It’s great sprinkled on meats prior to cooking, and also added to yoghurt or creme fraiche to make into a horseradish sauce.

If dried fruit is your factor, Kev at An English Homestead is your go-to supply for knowledgeable info. He dries as many as 400 apples per yr, plus plums, damsons and a number of different tasty morsels. He says: “the dried plums and damsons get used in my muesli daily instead of raisins.

How to use a dehydrator to protect fresh fruit and veg

Dehydrated pineapple in dehydrator

Kev makes use of a specialist dehydrator to fill his larder with wholesome snacks
Picture: An English Homestead

If you happen to’d like to take your drying to the subsequent stage, investing in a dehydrator allows you to dry extra produce extra shortly. About the identical measurement as a microwave, it combines a heater factor with a fan, and incorporates a number of drying cabinets. You must examine the producer’s directions for drying instances.

Monika Brzoza solely purchased her dehydrator this yr, she says she’s “still, learning and experimenting how to dehydrate things right. But I’m pretty pleased with the results.” Up to now, her favourites are:

  • Tomatoes which, in addition to making into crisps, she saves in hermetic containers to be used in breadmaking
  • Salad cucumbers flavoured with salt and cider vinegar
  • Peppers and chillies which she retains prepared to use in sauces and curries

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Edible flowers with honey

Carla dries edible flowers which she makes use of to infuse honey
Picture: @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57

You possibly can dry something, so be adventurous. As Monika says: “What I’ve learnt over the years is do your own thing and don’t be afraid to experiment. You will be surprised with the results.

That’s a message Carla at @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57 has clearly taken to coronary heart. She says: “My favourite things to dehydrate are vegetables harvested from my garden. After they’re dehydrated I turn them into powder so I can store and use them for natural colours in homemade natural soaps and skincare.” Carla has some nice concepts to put vegetable powders to good use. Not solely does she add a sprinkle to soups and casseroles, she makes use of them to color home made pasta, flavour fresh bread, boost scrambled egg and give her brownies a secret dietary increase.

However why cease there? Carla additionally dries edible flowers which she provides to home made teas, infuses into honey, and makes use of to beautify handmade soaps and tub salts.

Drying and dehydrating fresh produce actually couldn’t be simpler. Not solely is it a wonderful approach to protect your harvest so you should use all of it winter lengthy, it’s additionally monumental enjoyable. We’d love to hear about your experiences with drying; use #yourtmgarden to share your pictures.