Category Archives: Drying-Roasting

How to Dehydrate Vegetables

how to dehydrate veggies

Like us, vegetables are mostly water; some as much as 95%.
Removing that water dehydrating preserves food because bacteria can’t develop without the moisture.
You can dehydrate in an oven on its lowest setting or use a dehydrator which is designed to keep the temperature even and also provide air flow which helps to absorb the moisture.

Some veggies need to be blanched first. For this you dip in boiling water for the recommended time. See list to follow.

Dehydrating can take as little as a few hours for something like celery leaves or as long as 10-12 hours. The veggie, it’s size, and the humidity will affect the time it takes. With practice you will get used to the different times.

You want your veggies to be totally dry, even brittle.

Dehydrated veggies have the advantages of being able to be stored on a shelf, and they take up much less room. They also retain more of their nutritional value and can be held longer than canned or frozen vegetables.

Rehydrate by soaking in water, adding boiling water, or just toss in any soup or casserole that will simmer.
You can also grind dehydrated veggies into a powder, as we did with our garlic.

Vegetables that need to be blanched and the times:
Asparagus- 3 to 4 minutes
Beans- 4 to 6 minutes
Carrots- 3 to 4 minutes
Peas- 3 minutes
Sweet Potatoes- 3 to 4 minutes
Potatoes- 5 to 6 minutes
Rutabagas, Turnips- 3 to 5 minutes

Corn is a little weird and I never tried it. Other veggies like squashes, tomatoes, etc. you can just go ahead and dehydrate them. Tomatoes make a real mess and are much better roasted IMHO.

Pumpkin is great for Pumpkin Flour.

There are so many ways to use dehydrated veggies. We will be sharing more on the recipe blog.

More About Celery
PS: Whether you grow your own or not, you can save money by dehydrating veggies that are on sale and are otherwise hard to store, like celery and mushrooms.


How to Make Cornmeal

how to make corn meal

Cornmeal is simply ground corn kernels.
If you would like to have the independence to make cornmeal yourself, here is all you need to do:

1. Choose seeds.
Any seeds will work, but it is better to pick a variety recommended for cornmeal. Most seed companies will put that info in the seed description.

2. Follow these directions for drying the seeds. Be sure they are thoroughly dry.

3. Grind. We use a Hamilton Beach Coffee Grinder (link below) on the Expresso setting to get a nice fine meal. If needed, it can be run through twice.
For very large batches there are many choices of grinders, including attachments that hook up to your mixer.

That’s all there is to it. One ear produces about 1 cup.

Homegrown cornmeal, without all the pesticides and no GMO.
The flavor?
As different as homegrown fresh corn from store-bought.

Here’s the grinder we use:

How to Store Onions

You’ll know your onions are ready to pick when, like garlic, they lie down. There are a few different ways to store them.

For keeping indoors in your fridge or any cool, dry place, let cure outside in the sun for a few days. Then just trim the tops and wash off any dirt, you are good to go.

gardening jones preps onions for storage

2 wooden horses and an old screen is all you need

When I recently told Mandolin I had read not to store onions in the fridge, he just chuckled and shook his head.

We have been doing that for years with good success.

drying onions in the home garden


We freeze some of the onions that will just be used in soups or to can later in the fall in salsa. No preparation needed, just peel, chop, spread out on a foil lined sheet, freeze and store.

gardeningjones bring the onions in

a sink full of onions waiting patiently

You can also to roast/dehydrate some of the fresh cut green tops. You can use a commercial dehydrator but for onions, an iron skillet will add flavor to the end product.

Very lightly oil and place on medium heat while you chop the onion tops as evenly as possible. Then place in the warm skillet and reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible. It will take a few hours until your onions are crisp to the touch. Store in any food grade container on your shelf.

Dried this way they add a mild and toasty flavor to your food, and a little color to boot.

gardening jones dehyrdrating onion tops

dehydrating green onion tops

There are still plenty of onions growing in the garden, yet the sight conjures memories of a fall day not too long from now and homemade Three Onion Soup.

gardening jones onion fields

still plenty of onions and leeks left

No hurry though, it can wait ;-)

5 Wonderful Grains for Your Home Garden

Did you ever stop to wonder just how self-sufficient your garden could make you? Sure you can grow great veggies, even a good protein source through dry beans.

But what about grains?

you can grow that

Although technically these are not all grains, we are listing them because they are used that way:

1. Corn

Most often thought of as a vegetable, corn is actually a grain. You can grow field or dry corn the same as you would sweet, but allow it to dry thoroughly on the cob before harvesting the kernels to grind.

Be sure to take preventative measures if you are also growing sweet corn nearby, as their pollen is carried on the wind and there can be cross pollination.
This summer we will be showing you ways to help prevent this; but for the meantime, keep them as far apart as possible preferably with a structure between them.

One of the best varieties for making your own corn meal, according to Baker Creek seed catalog, is Cherokee White Eagle. Just be sure to choose a variety that is meant to use for this purpose, they are less sugary and will dry more easily.

Grind, store and use the way you would store bought cornmeal.

2. Quinoa

Technically a vegetable, quinoa is a relative of spinach that is fast gaining popularity in restaurants as well as home kitchens. Part of the reason, other than the delightful taste, is that quinoa carries a protein not normally found in a vegetable. Especially for vegetarians, this is a wonderful thing.

What you harvest here are the seeds as well, dry, store and use like you would rice. You can also grind the seeds to use like flour.

3. Flax

Often grown for its use as a fiber, the seeds of flax are actually wonderfully nutritious. They are a good source of omega-3′s and high in fiber. The milled seeds can be added to many baked goods.
We are so excited to try our hand at growing flax this year.

4. Amaranth

Often listed under herbs, and even considered sometimes as a flower, Amaranth is a beautiful tall edible whose flower seeds can be used as a grain.
In some varieties you can also eat the leaves as a vegetable, bonus! The most common variety grown for the edible seeds is Love Lies Bleeding.

5. Millet

One definition of grains is that they are grasses that produce small edible seeds. Millet fits this description well. Its seeds can be ground for flours or gruel, but it is often also used as bird seed.

We are going to try one of the most common varieties used in the US, a Proso type; specifically Proso White.

Again, we will have more specifics on this as we actually grow and harvest it.

decorative or edible corn

Dry or Field Corn

Generally speaking these crops grow quite tall, and the harvest you get for the space may not compare to vegetables you plant instead.
But if you have the room and want to be more independent, consider trying a grain crop.

We will let you know how we fare, what was worth it and maybe what was not over the course of the next year.

Hopefully it will all be rave reviews; but the idea of not being dependent on a store for our grains is already a win in our books!

You Can Grow It! is a monthly collaboration by gardeners around the world to promote the wonderful aspects of gardening.
For more posts, please click on the logo above.

Gluten Free Low Carb Bread Crumbs – You Can Grow That!

Whether you are allergic to wheat, have a problem with gluten, are trying to reduce carbs in your diet, or are just looking for a healthier alternative to the typical store-bought bread crumbs, your garden is the place to go.

It was a few years back we looked at making flour from pumpkin flesh. The same can be done with a slew of other veggies, in fact I’m sure you could combine different vegetables to make a very healthy flour.

Note here that if you are going to bake with it, you can only substitute 1/3 of your vegetable flour in the recipe.

But then the same line of thinking led to… what about bread crumbs?

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

So the theory was tested by dehydrating an entire head of cauliflower. The result was about 1 3/4 cups of dried vegetable. Pretty potent stuff.

Some of that was then ground up in a good coffee grinder. Tofu was chosen for the experiment since it has pretty much no flavor of its own, a good test to see how strong the cauliflower taste would be.

Tofu slices were dipped first in organic corn meal, then in some beaten egg, then into the cauliflower. Some pieces were baked, some were fried. Just for comparison sake, some were also made with rice flour instead of the cauliflower.

Happy Tofu.

Happy Tofu.

Mandolin was the unknowing taste-tester. Good thing he trusts me!
“Is that cauliflower?” he asked, “It’s good, I like cauliflower.”

The taste was much milder than we expected, and we agreed if it were anything other than tofu you would probably not taste the cauliflower at all.
We both liked it better than the rice flour, as it was crunchier. We also preferred the fried to the baked.

We then served it with a nice orange-ginger sauce, and it was wonderful.

This weekend we’re looking forward to trying it again, when SaveTheWorld is home on fall break; but this time with fried green tomatoes.
Maybe we’ll even try a variety of veggies for the breading, just to see how it tastes.
I’m betting she doesn’t notice the difference at all, though she will be happy to know it is a healthier alternative.

With younger kids, you may want to keep this a secret for a while. :-)

This post is part of a monthly group effort by gardeners around the world to encourage people to grow. Click on the link below to find a variety of posts with that theme.

And always remember-
you can grow that

A New Twist on Summer Squash

The tip of the summer squash iceberg.

The tip of the summer squash iceberg.

Three hills of summer squash may seem like two hills too many, unless you have fun ways to serve what you pick fresh.

We had heard of making curly fries from potatoes and sweet potatoes, then learned you can do the same thing with eggplant, summer squash, and butternut squash.

After checking out a few YouTube videos demonstrating slicers, we chose one by Paderno. It seemed to be the easiest and most reasonably priced for what we needed.

According to the directions included, you can also use it to slice and make curly cues from turnips, radishes, cabbage, apples and carrots. Hmm… pretty neat.

Quick and easy.

Quick and easy.

Once we got the hang of it, it did the job quick and is very easy to use.
Mandolin grabbed some of the first batch of crookneck squash shown and added it to some sauteed garlic and roasted onion tops. He threw in baby spinach, fresh basil, a little salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice.



Topped with some Parmesan cheese, it was lunch in a snap.

The rest of the squash curls went into the dehydrator, something we learned in the Facebook group Dehydrating Tips and Recipes.

Ready to store for up to 10 years.

Ready to store for up to 10 years.

No longer is Mandolin saying “Two zucchini plants are at least one too many.”

Instead we are anxiously awaiting that overabundance of summer squash, something we never thought we would be doing.

Dehydrating Food

This is something that we have attempted in the past, with limited results.

Herbs, yeah, they are easy. Simply hang upside down in a brown lunch bag to dry.
Celery leaves, not to difficult. Dry in the dehydrator, crush, and use as a spice.

The simplest form of dehydrating.

The simplest form of dehydrating.

But really dehydrating food seemed to be more than inexperienced me and my old, used, American Harvester dehydrator were capable of.
It took forever, the results were debatable, and Mandolin hated the noise it made.
To be honest, I gave up. I’m not really DIY enough to build a solar dehydrator, so simply went back to the other methods of preserving food that have worked well all these years.

Then the unexpected happened.
Let me just say first that Mandolin and I have been married for 36 years, today actually, and have known each other for 10 years prior. Still, when he commented that we needed a good dehydrator, I was shocked.
Not so shocked that I missed the opportunity to get my hands on an Excalibur.
Even though I did get a good price, and some free perks and shipping, the somewhat hefty price tag was still daunting.
I come from a simple background, and cannot help but feel that this needs to pay for itself.

Ready for some soups, trail mix and baking.

Ready for some soups, trail mix and baking.

So I started out with what I already knew, then happened upon a good deal on organic bananas.
Game on.
Then the strawberries came in, and organic peaches were on sale.
The potato harvest. Boxed scalloped potatoes? Yeah, I can make that.
Veggie soup mixes? Pshaw!

Make your own 'convenience' foods.

Make your own ‘convenience’ foods.

The real kicker though was watermelon, go figure.
We had some store bought fruit, the kind that far too often does not all get used up in time.
So I sliced the cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon and put it into the dehydrator.
Like candy. I’m telling you, that watermelon was better than any candy I’ve had and certainly better than any watermelon.

Mmmm... melon.

Mmmm… melon.

Now I can’t wait until our homegrown fruit is ready so I can discover how much better that is.
Investment, yeah. But I can see it will pay for itself real soon.

When Life Hands You a Lemon- be ‘Grate’ful

organic lemons

may as well get the good stuff

Buying organic is not always more expensive, if you take the time to compare prices- and use a little creativity.

fresh organic lemon zest

from lemon to freezer

There is a store about 35 miles from us that has a wonderful selection of organic produce; our local market doesn’t carry any. So when we happen to be in that area we try to stock up.
Recently they had organic lemons 2 pounds for $4.99. Nine lemons is a lot to buy all at once, but the price was about the same per pound as our local store’s non-organic.
We even looked in a Wal-mart to compare the price and their non-organic were 50 cents each, so again about the same.

lemon zest vs. pith

like the yellow, not the white

Here’s where it gets better. Dried Lemon Zest in the spice aisle was about $6 per ounce.
So here’s how you can beat that-
Grate the lemon peel being careful not to get the white pith underneath, that stuff is nasty.

organic lemon zest

simple and shelf stable

You can freeze that for recipes that call for freshly grated peel, or dry for those that have lemon zest as an ingredient- that is all it is, dried lemon peel.
Drying is easy enough, spread out on a pan and either let stand out overnight, place in an oven on lowest temperature until dry (about 15-20 minutes), or set out in the sun until dry.
You can use a microwave too, but I’ve never tried that.

fresh squeezed lemon juice

push down and twist

We weighed the end result and the organic lemon zest cost about $5 per ounce.
There is the side benefit of fresh squeezed lemon juice as well.
Each of our lemons produced about ¼ cup of juice, which we froze in ice cube trays to use as needed.

fresh squeezed lemon juice

fresh squeezed lemon juice

Organic lemon zest, freshly grated peel, and juice for less than buying them already prepared- and even less than making it with non-organic lemons.
Now we just need to pick up another bag when we are near that store next, and try our hand at candied citron.
You got to love it.

freezing lemon juice

2 tablespoon per cube

How To- Make Garlic Powder

homemade garlic powder

fresh picked garlic

Last year I noticed that Mandolin and SaveTheWorld preferred to use the handy store bought garlic powder to chopping fresh garlic.
So this year I thought I’d try making the fresh garlic easier to use.

homemade garlic powder

drying the cloves

I separated the cloves, not worrying about peeling at this point.
Since I don’t have screens for my dehydrator, I lined the trays with parchment paper.
After a while I let them cool a bit, then removed the peels easily.

homemade garlic powder

ready to roll

When they felt pretty brittle, I put them in a coffee grinder and buzzzed them into a powder.

homemade garlic powder

pulverize it

I researched how to store the garlic powder and found everything from freeze it to shelf stable, sometimes the Internet has too much information.
So I decided to leave some on the spice shelf in the small salt shaker pictured below, and refrigerate the bulk of it.

After all, having it handy was the starting point.

homemade garlic powder

big garlic flavor in a teeny jar

I must say the smell and flavor of this powder is extreme compared to the store bought powder thaton the shelf.

Note though that refrigerating it was a bad idea, as it absorbed moisture and became a large hard chunk. However you store it, keep it dry. A little food grade dessicant packet would help.

Dem Beans, Dem Beans

Cherokee Wax Beans

yellow wax and purple bush beans

I purchased a ‘Bush Bean Trio’ from Botanical Interests seed company last spring, and wowzers are they doing well.
We’ve eaten some fresh and they are wonderful, now we are getting an abundance of beans.
You see, bush beans produce a lot all at once, whereas pole beans produce over a longer period of time.

yellow and purple bush beans

pretty and colorful

This means a little storage consideration is in order.
Since we love veggie soups- which we eat almost daily from fall till summer- dehydrating seems like a good choice.

preparing beans

prepping beans

I washed and trimmed the beans to prep them for blanching.
They were then cut into about 2″ pieces, and blanched for 5 minutes.
This turns the purple beans green, which is unfortunate, but still kinda neat.

blanching beans


After cooling, I placed them in the freezer, as per my Ball Canning Book directions.

dehydrating veggies

mix em up

Next they went into the dehydrator and stayed there until they became brittle.
Since I am new to drying beans, I tested one out by putting it into a mug of warm water before I went to work.
When I got home it was fully re-hydrated and tasted great.
Of course, it did looked cooked- but that’s perfect for our needs.

dehydrated beans

dem dry beans

I love the fact that they’ll be in jars on the shelf, just waiting for Mandolin to ‘pick’ them for his next soup recipe.
The song reference.

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