Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dehydrating Garden Goodies

Want to enjoy the taste your garden throughout the winter?

Speaking of making my own spice blends, last summer I found a new passion and a way to enjoy my goodies all winter (besides canning, which I'll save for another post). I have always been a spice queen, having at least 20 different bottles spread all over the kitchen and in the cupboard. But now. . . i create my custom blends and oh my, are they so much tastier and so easy to do. Just pick your favorite fruits and veggies and follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying them. Play around with different blends and discover your favorite!

I made one blend by mixing EVERYTHING you see here plus a little salt and call it my "garden blend." It adds a fresh taste to soups and stews on cold winter days. It's also great on homemade french fries or blended with sour cream to make a delightful ranch style veggie dip.

Dried celery adds a great natural saltiness and unique flavor to any dish or dip.

You'll want to buy a good coffee grinder to make the spice blends. The color and flavors are so much more vibrant if you use a low heat setting (which preserves the nutrients better too). I store larger chunks in mason jars (or vacuum sealed bags) to add to soups and stuff. They are surprisingly tasty when reconstituted.

 This is part of what makes up my sweet/hot chile blend, plus some jalapenos and cayenne.

*I always try to reuse old spice jars*

Special Tidbit
 You know how you always have tons of cherry and grape tomatoes at all times during the gardening season? Halve them before dehydrating and store in a mason jar. These are great to toss into soups and add a sweetly intense flavor to your braised pot roast!

Reconstitute cayenne peppers in salted vinegar and puree for a vibrant hot sauce

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