Jan 12, 2009

Dried-Up, Wrinkled & Shriveled . Yum!

When you cook a lot of food, you often end up with a lot of waste.
It's just the nature of the beast.
A few left-over carrots from a salad.
A half of a tomato from that burger.
A handful of spinach from that stuffed chicken.
One stalk of celery from your dressing.

It ends up tossed in the fridge never to be seen again, until it is an unidentifiable gooey mess that you ultimately toss out into the trash or compost.
It doesn't seem like that big of a deal does it?
But think about it...
Over the course of a month, a year, a lifetime. Thats a LOT of waste of perfectly good fruit and veggies!

I used to just toss the veggie remnants into a freezer bag and collect them until I had a good sized bunch and make a big pot of soup.
This worked great!
But... I do a LOT of batch cooking and my freezer space is very valuable to me.
So, I decided I was going to figure out another way to save these odds-n-ends to use later with out using up freezer space.

Enter my trusty dehydrator!
You know.. that one you bought when you watched that infomercial at 3 am that night you couldn't sleep and just knew you'd make tons and tons of beef jerky to lure the Man-of-Your-Dreams into your awaiting arms because of your beef mastery? Yeah.. that one.

Got a few leftover carrots? Slice em up and toss em in the trusty dehydrator!
Store them in a jar and use them in any soup or stew!
They rehydrate great! As you can see, I didn't even bother to peel these!

Or, my favorite, I call a "soup mix" it's nothing more than some diced carrots, spinach leaves, celery, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, peas... anything!

I add to my "Soup Mix" jar consistently, then toss a handful (or more) of it into stews, soups, even meatloaf and spaghetti sauce! (AWESOME way to sneak some veggies in on those picky kids!)
You name it.... it can go right into the pot!
I even sprinkle it on the top of a pot roast.... it makes a great topping and the veggies rehydrate as you cook! How easy is that?!?

When you dehydrate things they shrink so much and are so light and easy to store that you will be shocked!
I dehydrated 8 entire bunches of celery, and it filled ONE quart jar! (celery is a great substitute for salt too!)

Don't even get me started on how many dehydrated blueberries I have on hand!
Soak these babies in some warm water to rehydrate, they you have blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, scones, cookies, you name it!

Dehydrated fruits are GREAT to toss in to oatmeal.

I have to use a electric dehydrator. (I bought the BIG Kahuna of dehydrators after I killed my second $19.99 special, I use it THAT much!)
But some of you might be lucky enough to live in a low-humidity area and can just set your veggies on a wire screen in the sun to get em good and crispy.

Try it!
You'll be glad you did!

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14 amazing comments. Talk To Me!!:

Bethany said...

Does it work for the lettuce I buy because I'm going to "eat more salads" and never do? ...although, what would you put in?

This sounds like a cool idea, though I think I would have mostly carrots because I can never get through a big bag of baby carrots before they go bad.

- your spoiled rotten, "city girl", little sister

Dana (the Homesteading Housewife) said...

Bethany...
lettuce? umm yuck?? if your planing on eating it in a salad no way!
But I have added it to my soup mix and never even knew it!
was fine. :)

Tatersmama said...

The problem with me is that if I will forget it's in the fridge, I will forget it's dehydrated in a jar.:o( But it would work great for the gallons and gallons of fresh blueberries we pick every year!

Anonymous said...

How do you store your dehydrated veggies? Sealed? in a bag or jar? The only time I tried my $19.99 :) dehydrater was on orange slices and they molded after 2 weeks so now I put them in the freezer after dehydrating - kind of seems like I'm doing double work.
I love (& enjoy) your blog - I found it by accident and have been checking in and reading it for about 2 months now. Cindy from Alabama

Dana (the Homesteading Housewife) said...

Cindy...
It sounds like you didn't dry it quite long enough.
Fruits that you plan to munch on should be dry to the touch, but still kinda leathery & pliable.
Veggies or fruits you don't plan to eat dried, should be hard and brittle. :)

Cindy said...

Dana, Thanks for the info. After you have dried them hard and brittle - do you store them in a sealed container? And do they have a long (6 months to 1 year) shelf life?
Now I want to dry dehydrating again. Thanks. Cindy

Laura - Whateverebay said...

That is a great idea. I chekced and I do have one. lol

My question is how do I store them? How long can they be stored for?

Dana (the Homesteading Housewife) said...

Cindy & Laura,

I have used dehydrated veggies two years later!

I use a canning jar with nice tight lids. I often vacuum seal those jars, but do not need to, it's just sooo humid here in Texas that I over-protect them!

Lauriebelle said...

Love it! Love it! Love it! Thanks for the great tip! I have a perfectly good dehydrator just wasting away in the pantry....I'm moving it to the counter top right now!

~L

Da Old Man said...

A very good idea. Thanks for sharing it.

Kathleen Roberts said...

Brilliant!! I'm fairly sure I used to have a dehydrator. No idea what happened to it though. :(

Mother Hen said...

How could I go my whole life without doing the dehydrator thing? You make it look so fabulous AND smart. And since I love to look smart I have to know, where do I go to buy a $19.95 dehydrator? And will it be a good starter dehydrator for me? I live in San Antonio, we have humidity.
I also wanted to mention that I would love for you to come visit Ship Full O' Pirates for my new Mister Linky starting this Thursday called Mother Hen's Homemade Thursday.
And can I just add, your sister scares me a little. ;)

Dana (the Homesteading Housewife) said...

Mother Hen... they have em at Walmart. :)

lalaine said...

Gawd! Now you made me wish I succumbed to the temptation 10 years ago and bought myself one. I wonder if they still sell those? I have lots of vegetable scraps that would have gone well with your "soup and stew" mix idea. Even tomato sauces, bean dishes, and...darn!

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