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