The different ways I dehydrate my produce.
My friend charmingly calls this my “herb curtain.” My sage, rosemary, and thyme can hang on this all winter if I need it to. But the parsley and oregano loses their flavor very quickly! So as soon as they are completely dry (a week or so hanging up) they need to go into some sort of a container. Make sure they are completely dry first!
I preserved these dried tomatoes in olive oil and dried oregano and basil after I pulled them out of the dehydrator. After that, I was able to keep them fresh in the refrigerator for quite a while. It’s takes a long time to dehydrate get all of the liquid out of them so be patient! You don’t want them to have much bend if you want to keep them for a long time. If you don’t, they will go rancid quickly. I like to do a batch that aren’t super dehydrated to use right away, and then I really dehydrate the rest so they last longer. Dried tomatoes in oil and herbs are perfect to add to any italian dish.
One of my favorite things to do is keeping the skins after skinning the tomatoes (which is generally required for making salsas and sauces). Then I dehydrate the tomato skins, and grind them up and use the powder in stews and soups to add flavor and thickening.
I usually leave my beans on the vine until they are completely dry and it hasn’t rained in at least a week. Then I pick them, shell them, and let them dry on my counter for at least a couple of days to make sure any residual water is gone from the insides of their pods. I’m always impressed at how long I can keep them on the vine without them rotting and going bad. One year I picked them right before the first snow and I was still able to keep them dry for years. The red beans are cranberry beans which are gorgeous and a great source of protein, and the brown beans are actually what green beans look like when you leave them on the vine until late fall!
Just like tomatoes, I always have a ton of hot peppers at the end of the growing season. I either ferment and turn them into sriracha, or I dehydrate them and grind them up in a spice grinder and turn them into red pepper flakes to spice up any recipe. This powder is from cayenne peppers to make cayenne powder! You can control a lot of the the spice by either keeping the seeds to make it more spicy or taking out the seeds to make it less spicy. HERE is where I get my seeds.
I generally dry out the hops as best as I can, my friend has a hop oast he built with his father, but if that isn’t available to me then I just lay them out on my wicker bench and air dry them as best as I can before putting in the freezer. Or if I’m really good, I have a beer recipe the local brew shop printed for me so I can use them right off the vine! But that rarely happens in the fall because I am so busy with other things. So I generally freeze them and use them later.
Just keep in mind that whatever cells don’t dry out will expand and be destroyed in the freezer.
Onions and Garlic! This process always starts out by braiding the stems and then cranking the dehumidifier in the basement. If they can make it to late fall my onions and garlic will dry out on their own in the basement but it’s way too humid until then.
Ya know that papery part that covers an onion? They don’t come out of the ground with that on! You need to dry them out for a few months until the outsides dry out a little. My grandmother grew up on an onion farm as a little girl, so I always feel like I’m channeling her spirit every time I do this!