Use your OVEN to Dehydrate…We’ll do green beans today!

Use your OVEN to Dehydrate…We’ll do green beans today!

You can dehydrate almost any vegetable or fruit in an oven, just as easy (or maybe easier!!!) than an electric dehydrator.

I have 2 Excalibur dehydrators and they run 24/7. They stop when I am out of fresh vegetables and fruits from the garden, or money to buy frozen ones.

Why dehydrate? I get that question all the time and here’s the reason why. If I bought frozen food, my freezer is filled and I couldn’t continue buying food to store up long term – not unless I buy another freezer and another and another! And pay for electricity. That’s a lot of space and money to store up food in a freezer, and if the power goes out, you’re in a bad way trying to can all of it or dehydrate what you can. I’ve been there with one very large freezer about 20 years ago. Never again. I gave all the veg and fruit to the chickens and I spent 48 hours straight canning the meat so I wouldn’t lose it. What I couldn’t can I cooked and overfilled my fridge to max so I could can it later after I slept a little – and I did this with 6 children under the age of 9. Yep, hard time, no one to help either. I’ve lived it, not living it again.

I could can all the frozen and fresh veggies and fruit – but that takes A LOT of jars, lids and rings and A LOT of space on shelves. So again, not a good idea financially or realistically.

I also don’t like canned veggies, they are mushy.

Dehydrating allows me to take a large amount of something, let’s say 60 lbs of fresh frozen corn, and dry it and put it into a 1 gallon glass jar or bucket. Amazing space saver, it stores pretty much forever if air tight, and it reconstitutes very well and easily. It saves money every way you look – and can be added to your long term food storage too. Dried beans are like this – when I store 500 lbs of dried beans in a 55 gallon barrel, if those are all cooked up, it will give me double or triple what I have stored because the beans swell back to normal size when soaked and cooked. So 500 lbs of beans = 1000-1500 lbs of cooked beans. See the beauty of dehydrating?

This is the same whether it is dried beans, corn, green beans, carrots, onions, peppers, or any other veggie. Same for fruits too, although they do get a little sticky so you need to dry them well and store with moisture absorbers if you can.

So I ask people right back, “Why NOT dehydrate?” They usually say it probably tastes gross or is too chewy or it will have no flavor. False… Let’s hit these one at a time, because I DO get these questions thrown at me frequently.

First, it’s not gross. You simply put the amount you want to use in a dish, pour some warm to hot water over them, and allow them to reconstitute – to swell up back to normal. I will do a video on this shortly. But you need to give them time to reconstitute otherwise they will be chewy and weird. You can’t just toss them into soup or dishes and expect them to swell up in a salty, oily liquid base – nope. If they are small enough they might, and corn tends to do fairly well like this, other veggies not so much. So just let them soak. Some only take 10-20 minutes, others that are dense can take up to an hour or more. No different than soaking dried beans.

As for being too chewy – just tackled that one above, let them fully soften up before adding into dishes you are making. So start them ahead of time so they will be ready when you want to cook.

As for no flavor – oh my! That is so untrue! They are absolutely PACKED with flavor because all the liquid inside did a miraculous thing. The water evaporated and that left all the flavor, the sugars, the starches, the oils, the very essence of the flavor in the veggie or fruit. If you eat a dehydrated pepper, they are so sweet and slowly soften in your mouth blasting you with flavor. It’s the same for everything dehydrated – unless they start off with no flavor.

I can store hundreds, thousands of pounds of fruits and veggies in a very small space once they are dehydrated – compared with trying to fit a very small percentage of that in a freezer, or canning them and getting a soft, mushy substance that I have to find space for on shelves.

So…there are the reason why I dehydrate and you should too!

As for HOW to dehydrate there are many ways, I cover one in this video and will show the others over time. But almost everyone has an oven, and almost everyone who sees this video can take a bag of veggies out of the freezer and try dehydrating in their oven.

* Note: While making this video, I was also making the dog biscuit video, the ham hock video, the 3 meat videos and running a busy home and small homestead. Because we had to remove the bean trays from the oven FOUR TIMES, the time was all messed up in the video (multi-tasking at its best!). They do truly dry out in less than 8-10 hours. I turn off the oven before going to bed if late, and start in the mornig to prevent overdrying.

Enjoy!
Rebekah ~ Everything Homestead
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