Did you know that properly dehydrated and stored vegetables can last for 8-10 years at 70 degrees F? If stored at cooler temperatures, they can last even longer.
So if you anticipate a shortage of kale or carrots in the coming years, you may want to get to work. On a more practical note, dehydrating vegetables is a great way to preserve your crop when you can’t eat the abundance of your garden quite fast enough.
Dehydrating vegetables is simple and the end result can be quite tasty. There is a bit of nutrient loss when dehydrating vegetables, but snacking on kale chips is better than avoiding kale altogether because you don’t like the fresh version.
Read on to learn how to turn your garden produce into some tasty snacks.
Proper Preparation for Dehydrating Vegetables
Slice your vegetables thinly and aim to make them about the same size. Thinner slices dry faster and similarly sized pieces will dry at the same rate.
Blanch your vegetables to speed up the drying time and help prevent spoilage. Blanching is a simple process that involves briefly steaming or boiling the veggies.
You don’t have to blanch them for long. Even hard veggies like potatoes only require being boiled for about 5 – 6 minutes. Softer vegetables, like peas, only need a couple of minutes.
Drying times for vegetables vary significantly depending on the water content. For example, cooked beets can dry in as little as 3 1/2 – 5 hours whereas the more watery pumpkin can take up to 16 hours or even more in humid climates.
How will you know your veggies are done? Depending on the type of vegetable, you should dry them until they are crisp or brittle.
Any easy way to make sure they’re fully dried is to put your dried vegetables in a mason jar overnight. Then check under the lid for moisture. A dry lid means they’re done. If you see drops of condensation, your vegetables need to be dried for a bit longer.
Store your dried vegetables in a cool, dry place. Plastic bags with zippers work for short-term storage. If you want them to last longer, however, you’ll need a more permanent storage method.
Mason jars work well and you can even get a hygrometer that fits on the top to be doubly sure that the veggies are thoroughly dried. Vacuum-sealed mason jars will keep your produce fresh for years. If you’re looking for even longer storage you may want to consider Mylar pouches that have oxygen absorbers.
Enjoy the Fruits (er Veggies) of Your Labor
Growing a garden is a delightful pastime. Without all the pesticides used in commercial production, the produce you cultivate will taste better and be better for you.
The trouble is that it will all be ripe around the same time. Dehydrating vegetables takes care of that problem. Now you can enjoy delicious veggies from your garden all year round.
Still need to find a good dehydrator? Check out our reviews.