I’ve been canning. I’ve been freezing. We’ve got fresh vegetables coming out our ears! And suddenly I remembered the dehydrator. My cousin and his wife gave me a beautiful new food dehydrator for Christmas. My cousin’s wife is one of those people who are most excellent at choosing just the right gift. She knew I would love a dehydrator.
Only I hadn’t used it yet. I’ve done quite a bit of drying in the oven in the past–which can be a hassle. It heats up the house and takes up your oven for hours. But–for some reason, I was afraid the dehydrator might be difficult. I was afraid there might be a lot of instructions. I don’t like to read instructions.
Luckily, it turned out to be real simple. In fact, fun.
Dehydrating is just another way of preserving food, of course. Dehydration expands the options for making use of my garden bounty as well as offering all kinds of craft possibilities. I want to dry apple slices to make a wreath. I want to make potpourri and dried flowers. I want to dry herbs quicker, and make my own granola and fruit rolls. Dried minced onions and honey-dipped banana slices. We just planted grapes–I can make my own raisins. Oh, the things I shall dry out! All without having to take up my oven for hours on end and heat up my house.
I dived into my new obsession by making my own crushed hot peppers.
I had a huge bag of mixed hot peppers. I washed and cored them, not quite removing all the seeds (to keep it extra hot) then sliced the peppers into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch wide pieces. I filled up all eight trays in my dehydrator, placing the sliced peppers in single layers. Set the temperature dial, flipped the switch–and that was it.
Nine hours later, I had perfectly dried peppers. I let them cool then crushed them (very lightly) into a coarse mixture including the seeds.
A huge pile of peppers, reduced to one quart jar of concentrated fire.
It’s the ultimate in space-saving technology. Aren’t dried peppers pretty? Divided into smaller decorative jars wrapped with ribbon or raffia, this would make a great gift!
Dried fruits and vegetables should be kept in a cool, dry location. It’s warm and humid right now, so I’m keeping this jar in the freezer. Soups, stews, chilis, enchiladas, pizzas, and more will all be getting a little heat kick for months from this special stash, long after summer is over and fresh peppers are gone.
And it was so easy. If you don’t like canning, or even if you do, try dehydrating. I’m going to dry some tomatoes today! Tomorrow, I think shall dry an orangutan.
(Just checking to see if you are paying attention.)