Dehydrating Vegetables that Don't Need Blanching
Some vegetables don't need to be blanched before they're dehydrated. Examples are celery, onions, cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. This makes the job a lot easier!
To prepare onions for drying, peel and cut them into slices or chop them. If using the Excalibur dehydrator (or any brand with a mesh-type tray insert), be careful not to chop the onions too small or they'll drop through the tray as the onion pieces dry out and get even smaller.
It's best not to combine onions with other foods in the dehydrator, since the strong odor may affect the flavor of the other food. Onions seem to take quite a bit longer to dry than some other vegetables, so drying an onions-only batch also makes sense for this reason. Otherwise, after removing the quicker-drying vegetables, you'll be running a partially full dehydrator - something that I avoid.
To prepare celery for dehydrating, simply wash and cut into thin slices. Celery contains a lot of water, so after drying, the volume decreases dramatically. I used two heads of celery in this recent batch and the resulting dried vegetables only filled one half of a half-pint mason jar! This shows another advantage of drying vegetables vs. storing canned vegetables: the reduction in storage space.
I'll use the onions and celery as seasonings, though I've been known to munch on dried celery. Cucumbers, summer squash, and zucchini are best eaten dry - either alone as a snack or with a dip.
Sometimes I add zucchini to soup - after rehydrating it for a half hour or so. If you're making a soup from scratch, you can add the zucchini at the beginning of the cooking process. I've read that summer squash and zucchini can also be chopped up and added to salads or used as seasoning - but I haven't tried it yet myself.
Preparation is pretty much the same for cucumbers, summer squash, and zucchini. Simply wash and slice into 1/8-inch slices. After washing, I usually pat my veggies dry with a paper towel before slicing - which decreases the drying time.
Tomatoes should be peeled and cored before slicing into 1/8-inch slices.
Dried tomatoes can be used without rehydrating - either eaten as is or added to soups and casseroles. They also can be reconstituted by boiling a small amount of water (just enough to cover the tomatoes), removing from heat, adding the tomatoes, and letting them steep for 10 minutes or so.
Dehydrating Vegetables - part 1
Excalibur Food Dehydrator
Posted by Beth on Saturday, August 12, 2006