How to Dry and Store the Vegetables You’ve Grown

Nothing taste as good as vegetables you’ve grown and nothing is safer for your family to eat. Learning how to dry and store the vegetables you’ve grown will save you money, keep more chemical additives off your table and give you the personal satisfaction of knowing you have done something to safeguard your family’s well-being.

*Drying Your Garden Vegetables

The fastest way to dry vegetables is to use a dehydrator, which has a heating element, fan and stacking shelves. The oven can also be used if you spread the vegetables on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and keep the temperature no higher than 200 degrees F. but preferably closer to 120-degrees F.

The prep process is simple and begins with washing and drying the vegetables. Some vegetables such as carrots, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips will require peeling before dicing or cutting them into thin slices and beans and peas will need to be shelled. Keep the prepared weight to about 6-pounds at a time for faster drying.

Once the vegetables are cut, chopped, peeled or sliced to the appropriate size, some will need to be blanched briefly in boiling water to halt the ripening process and to help maintain color. You can find an alphabetized chart of vegetables with both blanching and drying times at this site.

*Peppers-Onions-Garlic

Many vegetables such as garlic, onions and pepper can be air dried in an unaltered state and stored in a dry place until needed. Both onion and garlic should be braided by their tops as soon as pulled from the ground and allowed to cure or harden outside for a few days before storing. Another method for keeping onions is to drop one into a nylon hose leg, tie a knot and drop in another. Repeat the process until the hose is full and hang it up.

Strung peppers such as chilies, cayenne and banana perrers make a very festive wall hanging as well as keepong the peppers dry. Once the peppers are dry, they can be removed from the string as needed or stored in an airtight container.

*Testing And Storing Dried Vegetables

Remove a few pieces from the oven or dehydrator and allow to cool. Close your hand around the vegetable and squeeze. When you release the vegetable there should be no moisture on your hand and it should spring back into its shape. For vegetables that dry brittle, simply hit one with a hammer to see if it breaks. If it does, it is done.

Once you are satisfied, they have dried; pack them in zip-lock bags or other containers that can be sealed to keep moisture out. Place the container in a cool dark storage place to protect both the color and flavor. Properly dried and stored vegetables should keep for about 6 months though you should check regularly for any signs of mold.

*General Guidelines For Storing A Garden’s Bounty

While many root vegetables winter well in the ground until needed, they will need a few feet of some type of mulch such as hay or sawdust.

The biggest mistake most gardeners make is washing the dirt from their root vegetables instead of brushing it off with a soft brush or cloth. They don’t need the moisture from a good wash until ready to be cooked.

Trim the top from root vegetables and check the stored ones regularly to be sure none are spoiling. It only takes one bad spot to start a chain reaction that will soon ruin all you gained from a summer of hard work.

Learning how to dry and store the vegetables you’ve grown will greatly extend the keeping time of your garden’s abundance, whether you store them in a root cellar or dry them in an oven or dehydrator.


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