Our locale grows great greens. They come out of the fields generally in an overabundance for a sadly limited season so learning how to save them for those dark days of winter when we’ll be craving something green is handy knowledge.
Preparing Greens For Dehydration
(chard, kale, turnip greens, beet greens & collards)
- Wash greens in lightly salted water to loosen the critters from the leaves.
- Rinse in fresh water.
- Drain upright in a big tub or colander over the sink.
- Remove stems and chiffonade greens. Have a big tub ready to hold the prepared greens.
- Steam small batches of greens for 2-3 min. Don’t fill the steamer with more than 3 inches of greens at a time.
- Immediately spread the steamed greens out on a dehydrator tray with mesh (the plastic insert with holes)
- Start the dehydrator (135 degrees) and place each tray in it/on it, as they are filled. Don’t put them in all a once, the dehydrator will have a hard time keeping up. Here’s a link to our favorite dehydrator.
- Dry greens for 6-7 hours if you have a full load (14 trays) It may take less time in a smaller dehydrator or with fewer trays.(5-6 hours)
- Once they’re dried, remove the trays from the dehydrator and allow them to cool for 30 min.
- Fill gallon ziplock bags and label with date and contents. Gently squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible without crushing the greens.
- Place the bagged greens on the counter where you can keep an eye on them for a few days to make sure no moisture appears in the bag. If you do see some moisture in the bag, place the greens back in the dehydrator for another 45 minutes. The greens should be crisp. If all is dry, store in a cool, dark, dry place; I like to use large plastic storage bins.
Now that I’ve dried my greens what do I do with them?
It’s best to re-hydrate greens without the presence of salt so soak them in plain water before adding them to a recipe. I like to use a large measuring cup and cover the greens with warm water for a few minutes. After they’ve softened, (10 min) add them to soups, sauces, grits, risotto, bread, rolls, rice or cooked grains.
A couple of notes:
- Don’t waste the soaking liquid; it will be full of flavor. Use it in soups.
- I have not found a way to braise greens once they’ve been dried.
Recipe Ideas and links:
- Breakfast grits Make grits/polenta and add the dried greens directly to the boiling water before adding the salt. We make a large batch and place the remainder in a bread loaf pan. The grits will cool and form a loaf you can slice and fry for easy, tasty and wonderfully nutritious breakfasts.
- Risotto with greens- Use your favorite recipe and add the rehydrated greens during the last 5 minutes of preparation.
- Italian Wedding soup-First, rehydrate the greens and pour the liquid and greens directly into the soup.
- Rice or whole grains with sautéed veggies. Add the re-hydrated greens after the grain has cooked. Stir in and allow it to warm for a few minutes.
- Paella Use your favorite recipe or try ours. Paella enthusiastically welcomes any vegetables you have at hand.
- Cheesy Egg Squares
What do I need?
- A good quality dehydrator, (this is our favorite) with drying racks and mesh liners
- Steamer (large pot with an insert for steaming)
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife (stainless steel-non reactive metal)
- A big food grade bucket for harvesting, cleaning and draining large quantities of greens from your garden.
- Ziplock bags (gal. size works best)
- Safe place to store your dried treasures. A large storage tub with a lid works well.
- YOUR IMAGINATION