NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Drying - On Hold for Later

Drying – On Hold for Later

 

                Drying is a long-standing, fairly easy method of food preservation. Whenever you preserve foods, choose the best-quality fruits and vegetables. As with other food preservation methods, drying does not improve food quality. Proper and successful drying produces safe food with good flavor, texture, color and nutritional properties.

                The following vegetables were rated as “excellent” or “good” by the University of Georgia for their quality after drying: carrots, sweet corn, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsley, parsnips, peppers (all types) and potatoes. Many other vegetables may be dried, but the quality of the end product may not be as good as those listed. Tomatoes, for example, tend to absorb moisture easily, which can lead to color and flavor changes.

                To preserve quality and color, blanch prepared vegetables in boiling water or a citric acid solution .Blanching is a heating process that destroys enzymes, which can cause color and flavor issues. Water blanching achieves a more even heat penetration than steam blanching or microwave blanching. Citric acid acts as an anti-darkening and anti-microbial agent.

                Drying is not a precise method of food preservation, and the amount of drying time will vary depending on the equipment, moisture content of the vegetables and the humidity in the air.  Spray a cookie sheet or similar flat tray with vegetable spray, or line the tray with plastic wrap or parchment paper and spray with vegetable spray. Another option is to use the specially designed plastic sheets for electric dehydrators, and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

                If you are hoping to use your oven for food dehydrating be sure it can maintain a low enough temperature; otherwise, “case hardening” may occur. This is the formation of a “crust” on the food, which prevents the interior from drying properly.  To test your oven, set it to the lowest setting. Place an oven-safe thermometer on the rack where food will be placed. Leave the oven door open 2 to 6 inches. Place a fan near the open door to circulate air. Check the temperature. If your oven can maintain a low enough temperature (140 to 145 F), it may be used for food dehydration

                Pack cooled dried vegetables in small amounts in dry glass jars (preferably with dark glass) or in moisture- and vapor-proof freezer containers, boxes or bags. Metal cans may be used if food is placed in a freezer bag first. Properly stored, dried vegetables keep well for six to 12 months. Discard all foods that develop off-odors or flavors or show signs of mold.

                Dried vegetables can be used in soups, dips, stews and sauces. When reconstituted, 1 cup of dried vegetables becomes 2 cups. When reconstituting leafy greens (kale, spinach), cover the dried vegetables with hot water and simmer to desired tenderness. When reconstituting root or seed vegetables (beans, corn, carrots), cover with cold water and soak for about an hour, then simmer until tender and use as desire

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