Dehydration was a word I used to know only as a condition I suffered from in the summer heat years ago. Dehydration now has more meaning to me especially as I grow into becoming a more serious homesteader.
In one of my preserving books, there is a method of dehydration that utilizes a dehydrating machine. It’s very nice contraption that I still secretly want to own, as I have borrowed one from my neighbor and find it mesmerizing and highly convenient. It works by electricity, and gently dries out whatever ingredient you choose to subject to its powers. With a gentle fan and low heat, the moisture is slowly wicked away from within the ingredients over a period of time. The longer something stays within it’s chambers, the dryer it becomes. Novel idea, right?
Well, I don’t own a dehydrator and do not see myself spending the money nor finding a place to store this seasonal contraption. You see, I am constantly challenging myself to think outside of the obvious way of doing something. Some think that’s a bit much but when you are a naturally competitive person like myself, this is a great game to play with yourself and put your natural bent to good use.
So, one afternoon I found myself with 2 bunches of fresh herbs that were not what I ordered. I had a grocery delivery that was supposed to contain two bunches of dill for pickling but instead I was given parsley and dill. Unfortunately, the dill was sub par and was mostly discarded while the parsley was vibrant and fragrant. I also had a bunch of green onions regenerating on my kitchen counter in water and I needed to trim them back.
Oven Method of Dehydration:
I carefully cut the green onions with scissors and placed them on a cookie sheet and placed them in a 170 F oven. This is the lowest my oven will go, so I kept the door cracked and checked on the onions often. After about 20 minutes, the small onion rings had shriveled and dried completely. Once they cooled, I stored them in a small mason jar and put them in my spice cabinet. This was a very easy method and will likely be the one I choose in the future because it was rather quick and satisfying.
Woodstove Dehydration Method:
With the scraggly bits of dill, I divided it into one layer on a cookie sheet and placed it in front of the woodstove. I checked on it often and rotated the cookie sheet to ensure all areas were exposed to the warmth of the fire. After about 4 hours, the dill was dried completely. I then stripped it from the stalk but got tired of the method and decided to crush it all with the mortar and pestle and put it into a small mason jar. This method surprised me as it worked really well. I feel that this method would work in front of an open fireplace.
Hanging to Dry Method:
This method was by far the prettiest method, and still adorns my neglected hat rack and pot rack. I have found this primitive method to be effective when the bunches are sparse and have plenty of ventilation. Molding can happen if they are packed too tightly or overcrowded. Less is more, in this case. This is also a great way to store flower seeds and herbs that you would use for teas, such as mint and lemon balm.
Well, I hope you found this post helpful and hopefully encouraging! Although we live in the modern age of homesteading, it makes my heart glad to try things more simply if I am able. I hope you will try the same.