I love dehydrating things for winter! One of the big concerns with eating an exclusively local diet is getting the daily requirement of vitamin C in the wintertime. Dehydrating all kinds of fruits, including tomatoes and peppers, can be a great way to still eat them when the plants have long-since dropped their leaves. The dehydrating also concentrates the nutrients. Buying fruit when it is abundant and in season, means it will be a lot cheaper than buying high-value fruits like peaches and peppers, out of season.
I think I get my dehydrating habit from my mom, who actually sent us dehydrated cauliflower while we were in Peace Corps service! The funny thing is that I loved it and used the heck out of it, because cauliflower was not available anywhere and was great to add to stuff during winter there when there really weren’t very many fruits and vegetables available. This year she has actually started blending vegetables together and dehydrating them in sheets like fruit leather. Even I’m skeptical of the green powder she has in jars! Though I’m sure it will be great to throw into those winter soups that we love.
Dehydrating fruits and veggies is pretty straightforward, often just entailing slicing the fruit onto the tray and turning the dehydrator on the right temperature and checking on it a day later. When dry, the fruits can be peeled off and stored in a Ziploc bag until use. The possibilities are almost endless. I’ve talked about cherries and pitting them, peaches/nectarines you slice around the pit and can sprinkle with lemon juice and/or cinnamon/nutmeg if you like.
For the peppers, I slice around their core, incorporating the seeds and membranes of the hot peppers, only if I want the extra spiciness. I separate sweet and hot peppers and will often cut the hot peppers into smaller strips to regulate the heat, as we are not seekers of high intensity with our peppers. The peppers I, of course, got from the Tonnemaker stand at the Moscow Farmer’s market and by buying over 10lbs at once, I got a great discount. Watch for these with dehydrated morel mushrooms in fall dishes like butternut risotto. I’ve done tomatoes and even eggplant this year.
What do you love to dry and store for winter snacks, soups, baking…? We’d love to hear about what it is and your favorite ways to use it, in the comments!
Always with gratitude- especially to Shane McFarland for helping to clean up the messes I make (and carrying boxes through the Farmer’s Market)!