All dried out

Yesterday I experimented with dehydrating as a way of preserving some of the great courgette mountain. I borrowed an electric dehydrator off my friend Linda so that I could test out the resulting produce and see whether it’s worth our while building a solar dehydrator of our own (i.e. one that does not use electricity).

I chose a sunny day to do the test because (a) the air was dry and (b) we were generating enough electricity from our solar panels to run the thing. I started by wiping and drying the courgettes, then sliced them by hand into thin pieces. I spread the slices carefully on the drying racks and switched the contraption on at about 10:20 in the morning. The temperature was set to 125°F/52°C, so it’s a fairly gentle process. Being new to all this, I checked how things were going every hour or so. It’s a slow business, but by about 8:00 in the evening they seemed to be ready. I allowed them to cool in the dehydrator and finally transferred them to clean Kilner jars. They taste very intensely courgetty to me and quite nice, but Mr Snail isn’t keen – he says that they taste like cucumber (which he doesn’t like).

The finished product

The finished product

I’m going to try re-hydrating some of them soon to determine whether the reconstituted product is good to use. If it is, I’ll do some more, otherwise it’s been an interesting experiment. I notice that sweet peppers are also supposed to be good for drying, and I might have a go at these if we get a big enough crop.

Have you had any successes with drying your own vegetables?

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23 Comments

  1. I’ve never tried drying… I might though. We have a large pepper crop and the apple trees are full. 🙂 So I might give it a go.

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    • This is the first time I’ve tried anything other than herbs and beans (seeds rather than pods), but I quite like the idea of a dried soup/stew mix including runner beans, courgettes, peppers etc

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  2. I’ve dried bananas before. They get intensely sweet and slightly chewy; it was a bit much! I prefer roasting my peppers and bottling them in olive oil.

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    • I’ve considered preserving peppers that way but there are dire warnings on the internet about the high risk of botulism, which has always put me off! Advice on how you do yours – for example do you heat the oil and bottle them hot? what size jars do you use? etc – would be most welcome.

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      • I roast and skin them first. Then into the Ball jar, fairly tightly packed, and hot olive oil poured around them. Then I pressure cook them for a bit. Don’t use recycled jam jars, they don’t seal properly and the glass isn’t strong enough to withstand the heat and pressure. With Ball jars, you replace the seal top each time, but reuse the jar and the screw down ring. I can send more detailed info if you’re interested?

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  3. Weve dehydrated mushrooms, which were fine. I actually cant remember what we did with them after! We have done chillies, just when doing other things, rather than air-drying them. Sometimes they get chopped up to make chilli flakes. Ive done spring onion (I think they may be called something different where you are, the long green shoot onions!) chopped into bits. So good rehydrated in a meal when you can’t be bothered chopping up an onion. And also tomato. We rinse them in vinegar and put them in olive oil with some chilli and garlic. Strong but yum. They do well with cheese and biscuits.

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  4. Are the dried courgettes crunchy or chewy? I’m always on the look out for home-made, packaging free savoury (ie crunchy) nibbles.

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  5. Dehydrated veg isn’t something we’ve ever done, as I’ve always stuck with the jar as pickles, or in oil methods – or the cook, freeze, & re-use method, but it’ll be interesting to know how the courgettes faired, as you’d be able to store so much more with this method 🙂

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    • Not keen on pickles and the freezer, whilst big, only has a certain capacity so bottling (apples and peaches worked well last year) and drying seem like a good ways to go.We must chat about preserving in oil…

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  6. I’ve dried several foods for backpacking meals. They’re especially delicious after hauling them up and down mountains!

    And I look upon your bounty with admiration! We ate our garden’s first two zucchini just yesterday.

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    • I find that food always tastes different after being lugged around in a rucksack! Many years of field work as an ecologist taught me what I like and what I don’t that comes out of a flask or lunch box. However, that was always pre-prepared; I’m sure a meal cooked from ingredients you carried on your back all day is a whole different experience.

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  7. Ann Owen

     /  August 4, 2014

    We dry apple slices every year and dusted with cinnamon before drying, make a really tasty snack. I like the courgette idea, might sprinkle the slices with balsamic vinegar and seasalt first or some currypowder. I like the idea of a dried “just add water” stew in a jar. And what I want to try as well is to dry a mix of veg and then once dry, blend them to a powder to add to soups and smoothies. Now all I need is some time…

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  8. The best thing about dehydrating is that the mountain of whatever you have soon turns into a small jar. If you keep dehydrating till crisp you can powder the results and add them to just about anything. A great idea for soups etc. and an excellent way to keep a glut of food for later without much more than a jar to store them in. I grew a stack of mushrooms on bags of mushroom compost that we bought for our garden as I had read that they only harvest once and then the spores will keep growing. Grow they did and we had mushrooms coming out of every orifice. I dried slices of the HUGE mushrooms that got carried away and tried to take over Serendipity Farm and we had gorgeous mushrooms all winter long. Dehydration is the bomb! 🙂

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    • I do now have crispy pieces of courgette and have high hopes for future soupy goodness! You are right – space is at a premium and, whilst I like ready made soup in the freezer, there is only so much space to store it.

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  1. D is for… | The Snail of Happiness

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