At the end of the summer when we are awash in gorgeous produce we must remember to take a moment away from slathering corn with sweet butter and making fried zucchini to remember that this embarrassment of riches lasts but so long, and that if we are not smart, we could be left with just fond memories of all those peaches. Time to preserve those seasonal gifts.
Certain ingredients take very well to drying or dehydrating. You want to make sure that whatever food you are drying is just ready to eat, not overripe, and not underripe, and without any bruises or dings.
In some cases produce that is to be dried should be pretreated, either blanched first (cooked very briefly in boiling water, then cooled quickly in an ice bath) or dipped in solutions in order to retain both color and texture. Click here for more info on that. Vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms, depending on the type and pretreatment, must be up to 90% dehydrated to keep without spoiling.
Methods for Drying Produce
There are a few types of drying methods to consider: air drying, oven drying, and using a dehydrator. Using a dehydrator is the most reliable method. If you think that you will be interested in drying produce and other foods on a regular basis, an electric dehydrator is a good investment. Eugenia Bone, an expert in preserving food, recommends you look for a dehydrator that has an enclosed thermostat which ranges from 85 to 160F, a fan or blower to circulate air, and trays made of plastic.
Some of the newer air fryers also have the ability to dehydrate, so check to see if yours has that capacity. Or, look up instructions for dehydrating in your particular air fryer make and model.
Another possibility for fruit is to make fruit leather. Again, looking up specific directions for each type of fruit will ensure best quality and safest results, but here is a quick guide. This can be done in a dehydrator or your oven.
Best Summer Produce for Drying or Dehydrating
- Shell beans
- Hot and sweet peppers
- Smaller tomatoes
Recipes That Use Dried Produce:
Here are 6 recipes using dried fruit or vegetables, so you can enjoy summer’s bounty all year long.