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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drying foods

Drying food is fairly easy. I wrote about drying garlic here. I have tried to dry nearly everything, and found very little that did not turn out. You do not need fancy equipment to dry foods, although a dehydrator is a nice thing to have. A friend gave me hers as she never uses it, and I bought extra drying racks at a thrift store for 30 cents.

As a person trying to live a simple life(which has made me a prepper:), I save all containers that foods come from. I have a variety of plastic and glass jars to then re-use for my dried foods.

A key point to remember in drying foods is that if the food item browns in the air, you need to soak it(after you slice it) in a bowl of 3 parts water 1 part citrus juice. You can use the store bought items that will retain color, but I have used lime juice for a few years and it has worked wonderful.

These are dried onions. On the right I made a minced onion, and the left, the rings. I use the dehydrator for the rings because they will not fall through the slits on the drying trays. For the minced onions, I use plastic lids, then place them in pocket sleeve that I made(think pillowcase). I have read people using their roof to place items to dry on. I just sit the plastic lids on a bench in front of a window. Now I live in New Mexico, and it is almost always sunny. So other ideas to dry foods are using cookie sheets and use the oven at low heat overnight. If you are not drying onions(because of aroma) you can dry foods on the dashboard of your car. It takes little time using a vehicle as the car heats up rather quickly.

Here are orange slices that I recently dried. You can toss this in a tea drink, orange juice, or like my children just suck on them. They are a wonderful energy boost.

{Sorry about the photo quality}
This is Swiss Chard that I dried. It takes very much like seaweed and is a yummy crunchy snack. I think that I am going to start using this where I use a bay leaf to see how it will taste. Remember dark green vegetables are EXTREMELY healthy for you, yet in the winter, if you grow your own foods, you may lack things like chard-well no more. Just dry some for your family!

This is a jar of dried apple slices. You would pre-soak the slices in the citrus solution to stop the browning. I make a granola breakfast cereal that some of the kids toss apple slices on it. I prefer to grab a handful each morning to start my day. You will never regret drying apples!

Once again the photo quality is a bit off, but this is a photo of dried strawberries. Boy I cannot describe how wonderful a snack is that is made of dried strawberries. You can use this for breakfast foods, add it to a jello, or even ice cream or shakes.

If you do not have a garden, no problem*. The grocery has weekly sales. Buy a large amount of the item of the week and dry some food for your pantry today. (or can it). Learning how to preserve and store foods can make a difference in you and your family's very livelihood, and if I can dry foods so can you!
(c) Double Nickel Farm

cross posted on New Mexico Preppers
* I strongly urge you to begin growing some foods for you and your family.