The Art of Drying Vegetables

The Art of Drying Vegetables
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Drying vegetables has been an age-old method of preservation used in the years before refrigeration, a method of our ancestors. However, drying of fruits and vegetables had come back into fashion with many people who want to utilize the old-fashioned ways of preserving their foods.
There is just so much you can get into the freezer, just so much you have time to or want to can. So you may want to discover which vegetables you can dry successfully and utilize in interesting recipes for your family.

Many Foods Can Be Dried

The list of foods which lend themselves to the drying process becomes almost endless - beans of all kinds, beets, onions, corn, carrots, peppers, peas, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, herbs, and fruits.

Some people use home dehydrators made especially for this. But many foods can be dried right in your oven. Of course, our ancestors dried their foods in the sun and in the attic. (Also, if you contact the Home Extension Service in your area, you might find information about drying fruits and vegetables. This data is available in some cookbooks on your shelf or at your local bookstore.)

Drying Corn

Drying corn and beans has been done for years and years. The Pennsylvania Dutch, in particular, are noted for dishes made from this vegetable.

*To oven dry corn, plunge the freshly picked ears into boiling water for five minutes. Then dunk them into cold water. When cool enough to handle, cut the corn off the cob. Spread it out on large trays, preferably enamel, some home dryers say. The corn can be one to 1 1/2 inches in depth on the trays. Place them in a warm oven, about 150 degrees F. and leave them until the corn is thoroughly and rather brittle.

*If you have a wood burning stove, you can dry corn on the back of the stove or in the warming oven. You will want to stir it occasionally so it dries evenly.

*With a food dehydrator, follow the directions for drying corn that come with it.

*Store the corn in glass jars, plastic bags, plastic containers ,or clean coffee or shortening cans with tight fitting lids.

Cooking Dried Corn

To cook, soak 1 cup corn in 2 cups cold water for at least two hours. Then add salt and pepper to taste, possibly a dash of sugar, and simmer slowly until the corn is tender. Before serving, you can add butter, cream or milk, if desired. Or make it into a corn chowder or soup.

Drying Beans

*One method of drying string beans is to string them on thread with a needle. Then hang the strings up to dry in a warm, dry place, like a pantry, unused bedroom, or attic.

*Follow the directions that come with your dehydrator.

Leather Britches

An old-fashioned dried bean dish often was called Leather Britches. This consisted of dried string beans cooked with ham. For this dish, remove some beans from the strings and soak them overnight. The following day, boil them for about three house. About an hour before serving, add a ham hock, salt pork, piece of slab bacon, or sausage. Boil these together for about an hour, until the liquid is low. Many pioneers made a meal of this with hot biscuits or corn bread.

(c)2000 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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