Think again about dried food!

Sometimes I wonder why it seems like “forever” for a good idea to take shape. I have a decently intelligent brain. I’m not exactly young, so I’m aware of a thing or two. And this idea I had only came to me last week! I’d have loved to have discovered it years ago!

I’ve always known about dehydrated foods in a very minor sense. I’ve bought raisins, dried blueberries, cranberries, apricots and dates many, many times.

I’ve dried my own garlic and ginger. I even did a post on that.

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I’ve dried lemon peelings. Very, very thinly sliced lemon peelings, no pith at all. I then ground the dried peelings into powder to use as flavoring in baking.

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I’ve had a tray of rose hips withering away in my wood stove room for a few weeks now. I will grind those also and use them in tea.

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I dried all of my Red Rubin basil from the garden.

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I forgot a paper bag of mushrooms in the back of my fridge once and they dried completely out! I kept them though and used them in spaghetti sauce. And guess what? They worked brilliantly! In fact, you’d never have known they weren’t fresh.

We all know about dried/dehydrated foods. But most of us probably don’t give it much thought. Most of us don’t consider doing it ourselves. I never truly did, despite occasionally dabbling in it, until recently.

I detest food waste. Or waste of any kind really. With so many people starving in the world, I believe it takes a lot of ignorance to allow food to be thrown out. I knew a woman once who didn’t like left overs and always tossed them!! How horrible!

But back to the subject of this post. My last harvested pile of kale leaves was wilting in the fridge. I wasn’t in a hurry to freeze any more. I have enough already! And the soup I had planned wasn’t happening. SO. What could I do?

And then I had a light bulb moment!

Why couldn’t I DRY them? Although much bigger than a basil leaf, it was the same idea, wasn’t it? I figured it was worth a try. And I had fabulous success! I’ve even Googled the nutritional value of dehydrated/dried foods and everything stays intact.

I’ve had a few days to ponder that however and I’d have to disagree. Everyone knows when you eat something freshly picked, that’s peak nutrition. The longer it’s been, the less value it has, which is why choosing local is good. It (the apples, the lettuce, whatever) didn’t have to travel from Mexico or Ecuador (or anywhere far away).

Dried food, dehydrated food, sits around until it’s dry. . . . .aka – kind of old. So it has to lose value. It just makes sense.

Some say frozen food has a high nutritional value because it’s frozen soon after being harvested. Others will argue it’s cells have been damaged and therefore so has it’s value. I think there’s positive and negative aspects of all methods, even fresh.

I like air-drying since it requires zero electricity and I don’t have to purchase an expensive dehydrator. The one I’ve had my eye on is around $500 🙂 Stainless steel. To help avoid the plastic I hate so much. It’s a dream that can wait.

I found one site that listed nutrient loss as follows:

  • Air drying – 3-5%
  • Dehydrating – 5-15%
  • Freezing – 40-60%
  • Canning – 60-80 %

If I go by this, air drying is a great choice. Freezing is better than canned (obviously, canned is cooked and cooked food is always largely depleted of nutrients). Fresh of course if best! Most of the time. But not possible all year round where I live. From my garden, that is. Obviously I can shop for fresh.

I have that handy dandy clothesline in my wood stove room for the next several months 🙂 It was perfect for hanging my kale leaves on. 020

In about a week, I had a completely dry veggie. I’ll probably use them (now crumpled in a jar) in smoothies. 065I really, really wish I’d thought of drying them sooner.

I wouldn’t have put any in the freezer! They’re space consuming and very fragile.

I’m looking forward to the 2016 gardening season as I’ll dry as many as I can. It’s a wonderful preservation technique.

I’ll be picking a LOT more rose hips too! They’re an incredible source of vitamin C and vitamin A! And. I. Mean. Incredible. Vitamin A is known as the skin vitamin. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of a local, free supply of that. No packaging. No carbon footprint. 100% organic. AND it’s great for my skin!

I encourage everyone to explore the world of food beyond the grocery store! Wild foraging. Growing your own. Preserving what you find and what you harvest. It’s very rewarding and you can control the quality of your food! No GMOs. No chemical pesticides. No biosolids.

Nothing you don’t want. Only pure goodness, the way nature intended it to be. Before man began fiddling with things.

 

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Still harvesting. Amazing!

I was wrong. I didn’t pick the last of the leaves off my brussel sprout plants the other day. I was just out in the glorious sunshine and thought I should uncover my kale so it can take advantage of the rays.

And I was able to harvest the smallest leaves off the tops of my brussel sprout plants! They’re showing no signs of suffering in this cool weather.

029I can hardly wait for next year when I can have 15 plants instead of 5 because the leaves are still my favorite new leafy green.

I’ve been enjoying them rolled up and thinly sliced in a mixed veggie salad the last several days; purple cabbage, onion, orange pepper, carrot, hemp seeds, black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and blueberry vinegar. YUM.

027And if you’re wondering what that little spot of green is beside the leaves, it’s an actual brussel sprout! 🙂 Obviously way small but still a real brussel sprout! Gee, can you tell I’m excited?

I have another photo with a fork in there too so you can see just how small it is.

032I’m so sad now, they never had a chance to amount to anything worth eating. . . .

I’m going to harvest my kale later today. Who knew I’d be picking anything on October 3rd?? It’s wonderful. And since I have kale in the freezer, I’ll probably make a soup with this batch. If my sister lived closer, she could come and get it but she’s too cheap to drive SO FAR. I’m a whole 20 minutes away! Crazy, eh? Another city entirely, in my opinion, would be ‘so far’.

Her loss 🙂 My gain.