Ann is an avid gardener, cook and garden writer, and a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. She tends to her old farmhouse and organic homestead where she raises blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and elderberries, as well as fruit and nut trees. Ann grows vegetables and herbs in raised beds and containers that are tucked into a lush landscape of perennial gardens in the scenic Winooski River Valley. A trained horticulturist and ecological landscape designer, she is the author of four gardening books, including Organic Gardening for Dummies, and is a longtime contributor to many magazines, websites and other publications.
Drying onions, garlic and other vegetables is a great way to store them for months without spoilage. Prepare garlic for drying by thinly slicing the cloves. Small pieces dry faster and take less time to rehydrate later. Crushed, dried garlic makes excellent garlic granules and powder. Arrange sliced and crushed garlic on a dehydrator tray. Use the mesh screen to prevent small pieces from falling through. First spray the tray or wipe lightly with vegetable oil to prevent juicy crushed garlic from sticking. Prepare onions by thinly slicing them with a sharp knife, food processor or a mandoline cutter. Separate and arrange the rings on the trays. Allow space around the pieces. Each of these trays holds one sliced onion. Stack the trays on the dehydrator base. Adjust the tray heights so that food pieces do not touch the tray above them. Put the tray with the smallest food pieces or most delicate foods on the top. Put on the top lid and turn the center dial to expose and open the ventilation holes. Plug it in and push the on switch to start. Check the food frequently. It’s important to rotate the trays so that food dries evenly. Move upper trays to a lower position and rotate trays a quarter to half a turn. I moved these trays about four times during the drying process. Use the recommended drying time in the manual as guideline. The actual drying time can vary considerably, depending on the size and water content of the food pieces. These onions took less than six hours to dry. Glass canning jars with tight lids are handy for often-used foods. After drying, five medium onions fit easily into this pint-sized jar.
How it Works
One of the oldest methods of food preservation, drying is the simplest and least time-consuming way to preserve fruits, vegetables and herbs, and it yields easy-to-store, nutrient-dense foods for year-round use. Save money, too, by making your own dried tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, herbs and more — without preservatives or artificial colors. This Food Dehydrator has five stackable, adjustable trays that accommodate a variety of fruits and vegetables, plus one herb tray and two liners for making fruit roll-ups, plus mesh for making jerky. A 300-watt motor provides low, even heat and a fan circulates air for fast, even, efficient drying. Much easier and more reliable than air- or oven-drying. Includes instructions and recipes. Photos: Ann Whitman