Some vegetables are quite good dried. Others lose their appeal and
are better frozen or fresh. Some vegetables are far better frozen than
dried, if you must preserve them. Vegetables have a low acid and sugar content that makes them more subject to spoilage, and tend to have far shorter shelf life than dried fruits. Packaging and ideal storage conditions are key elements to producing dried vegetables which will taste as good in December as they did from your Summer Garden.
Wash vegetables thoroughly and remove any blemishes. Peel, trim, core, and/or slice vegetables.
Most vegetables must be blanched, either steaming over boiling water or in microwave oven to slow enzyme action which will continue during drying and storage.
Note: Blanching softens cell structure, allowing moisture to escape more easily and also allows vegetables to rehydrate faster. There is no need to blanch onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms. Herbs also are not blanched. Water blanching is not recommended because of loss of water-soluble vitamins and minerals.
Use a commercial steamer or a pan with a tight fitting lid and a steaming rack. Bring about 1 inch of water to a brisk boil and drop in sliced vegetables. Cover. Steam until vegetables are heated completely through, but not cooked. This is usually about 1/3 of the time required to cook vegetables. Vegetables should still be crunchy. Drain in steamer rack and place immediately on dryer trays.
A microwave oven is ideal for blanching vegetables. Prepare them in same manner as steam blanching. Place them in a microwave-safe dish, cover and cook on high for about 1/2 of time required to completely cook fresh vegetables. Depending on age and design of your microwave, you may want to stop cooking half-way through and stir vegetables to achieve a more even blanching.
Load blanched vegetables onto drying trays, making sure that air can move freely between pieces. For vegetables, such as corn or peas that tend to clump together, stir occasionally to allow air to reach all of the pieces.
Vegetables are dried until they are crisp, tough, or brittle. Package immediately after drying to prevent absorption of moisture from air.
Usual drying temperature for vegetables is 130°F to 145°F (55° to 63°C.).
Hints and Suggestions
CARROTS - to save time grating, dry carrots for salads, carrot cake or coleslaw.
GREEN PEPPER, ONION, CELERY, CHIVES, ETC., - chop and dry in a one-day effort to use instantly all year!
GREEN BEANS, WAX BEANS & GREEN PEAS - best when used in soups, stews or casseroles.
ONION POWDER - dry onion slice until crisp, then either powder or chop in blender for chopped onions.
TOMATO SLICES - Use for color and crunch when crumbled over a tossed salad. They rehydrate well in soups, stews and casseroles.
Tomato leathers can be powdered and used as instant soup, sauce and paste. See instructions below chart.
* Dry at 90°F for 2 to 3 hrs., then increase temperature to 125°F and dry for remaining time.
** Blanch for 5 minutes or until translucent but still firm. If not steamed long enough, they will turn black during drying and storage.
*** Tomato Leathers can be powdered and used as instant soup, sauces and paste.
Tomato Paste = 1 tsp. powder, 1 tsp. water
Tomato Sauce = 1 tsp. powder, 3 tsp. water
Tomato Soup = 1 tsp. powder, 1 tsp. water, 2 tsp. cream
Tomato Juice = 1 tsp. powder, 1/2 cup water
(Adjust amount of water to taste for soup and juice)