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Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Dehydrate Kale (and other greens)

We love greens. Storage and the length of time they stay viable can be a problem. Canning... You get slimy greens. The freezer in our fridge is always tightly packed. Our home is small, we have no where to keep a small free-standing freezer.

To keep a good harvest of greens around, I went for dehydrating them. Instructions call for steaming them briefly, leaving a limp mass. Dehydrating this mass glopped onto the drying trays left a lot to be desired. You also lose a little of the nutrients, I think. Maybe not. Drying herbs is easy- wash, pile on trays lined with mesh to give an air-buffer and go for it. If it works for herbs, why not greens? And guess what? It does, quite nicely. I will be using kale as my example and in the photos. This method also works perfectly for collard greens, spinach, mustard and beet greens. (That is what I grow.)

First, I cut the long, tough stems from the bottom of the kale leaves. Next, I put my kale in the sink filled with tepid-to-cool water that I added a sploosh of vinegar into. The vinegar will kill any little proteins that may be attached to the leaves. Push down into the water and swish a little. Drain the water out.

I then rinse a few leaves at a time to make a small pile ready to be stemmed. I cut out the middle stem of the leaves, that also tend to be tough. Each leaves on the larger kales get another slice lengthwise.

I then lay the leaves on the trays, layering them quite thickly.

Really. I know what the books say... and this way works just fine.

After filling all my trays, which tend to not seat down until I put the next layer over the previous one and finally the motor. I set the heat for 135° F and plug 'er in.

It take 5 hours for the 5 kale-filled trays to finish. I unplug the motor and let it sit until the next day before putting the leaves into a 1/2 gallon jar, labeling and sealing.

Dehydrated greens can be crushed and used for seasoning, crumbled and used in soups and stews, and more. You can rehydrate the leaves for cooking, but I prefer to use put them into whatever we are eating without that step.

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