My focus this year has been on trying to minimize winter food bills as much as possible. Winter time greens can be expensive in the markets, especially if you prefer to buy organic for your family. Part of my strategy to minimize the amount of money spent on expensive greens is to dehydrate garden greens while they are plentiful now. Not only does dehydrating allow them to retain most of their nutrients it makes them super easy to use in a variety of dishes.
While I plan to grow greens as far into the winter season as possible with the use of Cloches, and am considering trying to grow greens indoors this year, having a stash of spinach, kale and other greens dehydrated will allow me to sneak in valuable nutrition that my family needs without having to worry about the high cost of buying fresh.
What I Use Dehydrated Greens For
There are plenty of ways to used dehydrated greens; one of my primary ways to use them is in smoothies, where the strong taste and color of berries makes them invisible. But I also put the greens into soups, baking when and where it is appropriate and rehydrate them for use in stir fries, casseroles, and a number of other dishes. There are not too many places where you cannot tuck in a few of these greens; I also slip them into omelets, frittatas and quiche.
How I Do it
I like to use the darker greens for this project and I usually keep them separated, keeping Kale in one jar or vacuum seal bag, spinach in another and so forth.
This project is super simple to do, just wash your greens well, let them dry or use a towel to towel them off.
I like to tear my greens into smaller pieces, it makes it easier for them to fit in my dehydrator and they are much easier to store as well. I dispose of the rib, just using the leaf part of the greens.
I place the greens in my Excalibur dehydrator; turn it on to 125 degrees overnight. How long they stay in will really depend on a lot of things such as the temperature in your house, the humidity levels and the greens you are dehydrating. You want to dehydrate your greens until all of the water is removed; they should be crisp and crumble easily.
Storing your Dehydrated Greens
Once the greens are dried and ready to store, you will need to decide how you want to store them and how small you want the pieces to be.
I take the pieces of kale or other greens and rub them between my hands to create a smaller size and then I package these in vacuum seal bags or mason jars. You can put the vacuum seal bags in the freezer for long term storage and then store them in a mason jar for daily use.
You can also run the greens through a food processor and make a fine substance that is perfect to add to smoothies, soups and any other foods you might want to tuck a bit of nutrition in.
Finally you can leave the leaves whole and carefully package and seal them, this allows you to rehydrate them in a bit of hot water and then add them to lasagna, egg dishes and more, just like you would fresh greens.
I have just read about dehydrating your greens for the winter. I have a few questions.
I am trying to explore long term storage. Do you think in your opinion I would be able to dehydrate my spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, etc until a crumbly state. Put each green in a mason jar with an oxygen absorber in the jar as well to remove the oxygen to prevent the food from going rancid. Here is wikipedias definition of a oxygen absorber: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_absorber
They are often used to prepare for long term storage to take all the oxygen out of the container/bag/can for long term storage. It is my understanding once the oxygen is removed, then the food is safe for storing for lengthy periods b/c there is no oxygen to make the product go rancid. This would be only if I wasn’t opening and closing the jars constantly but keeping them for a longer period of time. Then once opened, use the greens as quickly as possible.
This way I would be able to store some greens for longer periods of time.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much!
I am also worried about the kale, spinach, etc. going rancid. But I assume that if it the green is in a crumbly state, then you can assume most of the moisture is gone. Hence, there is no need to worry about it going rancid. I do not know. I am relatively new to all this.
wow, I just discovered your blog tohgnit, was wishing to find a really fabulous raw website, and, my wish was granted! And I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you are NOT using nutritional yeast in your kale chip recipe. The stuff is too addictive and gives me gas! lol
I am sure that would work, I am not worried about the greens going rancid in the short term, they are much like dried herbs once they are completely dry. If I am going to storing for more than 3 or 4 months I store in a vacuum seal bag. You can also freeze if they are sealed properly, which I sometimes do.
I have not used oxygen absorbers because I am not concerned with that long a term storage at least not at this point in my life, but I do know those that do and it does work.
I have been canning and dehydrating food for over 25 years and every year I dehydrate large amounts of greens for various winter dishes. I simply dehydrate the greens and crumble them up into small pieces and store them in a zip lock bag or a mason jar. Though I have never used an oxygen absorber, I have never had any of my dehydrated goods go rancid. I wouldnt think that your goods would go rancid, however they may begin to absorb moisture and in turn would become a bit leathery in texture and of course from there they may gather too much moisture and begin to mold. as you are not positive how you should store your dried goods then to be safe store them in the freezer. Once you reopen them and are using them they will last for quite a few months with no troubles. good luck.
Cheryl Hunter says
Hi I am wondering how to re-hydrate kale and what do you use your kale crumbs for?
I use mine for everything. Chili, soup, fried eggs, roasts, potatoes, chicken, deviled eggs. Have been drying (for years now) all greens, Kale, collards, spinach, Indian mustard, beet tops, sweet basil, swiss chard tops, Kohlrabi tops., and anything else I can get out of my garden. The only thing I don’t use it on is desserts…. lol. I even make up my own spice to share with family and friends. It is wonderful. Haven’t found anyone that doesn’t like it. So feel free to experiment., as there is a ton of things out these that you could use…. Happy dehydrating!!!!
Also wanted to say that I dehydrate my green and put them in jars in the basement and crush them as I use them That releases the oil and they are like freshly dried.
If a soup recipe calls for a pound of fresh kale, how many ounces of dehydrated kale do you use? Thanks!
if i dehydrated the kale and spinach as you mentioned above and put it in my vitamix blender to make it powder, could i just add water to make a green smoothie? would it be as smooth as if you placed the fresh vegetables in the blender? i am a frequent green smoothie drinker in the morning and was wondering if i could do this when i travel. it would be very convenient to bring the vege powder and add water to make a smoothie. did you or anyone try that?
Liz E. says
I can’t think why that wouldn’t work, but I’m not sure how it would taste. You’d have to play with it and see. I would certainly use less as dried ingredients tend to be a bit more potent than fresh. Let us know how it goes if you decide to try that!!
My hubby and I just washed and striped lots of garden grown kale today. I found that it only took 4 hours at 125 degrees. I am hoping to store the kale in freezer zip lock bags at room temperature. I love your idea of re hydrating the kale and adding to lasagna. Sounds so delicious and healthy!
Linda Brown says
Hi there, my husband and I love to read your old-fashioned stuff and visit your site whenever we can make time. I enjoyed your article on dehydrating greens. Everything is explained in an easy to follow step-by-step approach. I myself have written a similar post on the subject . I’m wondering if I could possibly ask you to see that and give your perspective on that so I feel more encouraged to write better in the future. Best regards
I never thought to dehydrate kale. So much easier than blanching and freezing (and a lot less watery outcome).