Vegetables

Vegetables

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How to Grow Amazing Broccoli | Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting

Videosgith345 posted the article • 0 comments • 26 views • 2019-10-07 16:09 • came from similar tags

I've been asked about how I grow my broccoli so today I share with you everything I've learned about growing it. I hope you find it helpful.
 
 
 
 

  view all
I've been asked about how I grow my broccoli so today I share with you everything I've learned about growing it. I hope you find it helpful.
 
 
 
 


 
15
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It's again that season when the fruit and vegetables are too many to eat, such a headache

VideosLiziqi posted the article • 0 comments • 15 views • 2019-09-17 09:52 • came from similar tags

 

 
 
Similar to last year, this year (we) also set up a pumpkin road. Those which have not had time to eat have grown into sweet and glutenous old pumpkins. Steamed pumpkin, pumpkin rice, salted egg yolk pumpkin, pumpkin milk ~ My grandmother can eat pumpkins three meals a day and won't be fed up. Matched it with Red bean and Coix seed flour to make a drink to get rid of the slightly wet and toxins from staying up late recently. view all
 


 
 
Similar to last year, this year (we) also set up a pumpkin road. Those which have not had time to eat have grown into sweet and glutenous old pumpkins. Steamed pumpkin, pumpkin rice, salted egg yolk pumpkin, pumpkin milk ~ My grandmother can eat pumpkins three meals a day and won't be fed up. Matched it with Red bean and Coix seed flour to make a drink to get rid of the slightly wet and toxins from staying up late recently.
14
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I planted shiitake mushrooms in the mountain!

VideosLiziqi posted the article • 0 comments • 14 views • 2019-09-17 09:49 • came from similar tags

 
 
 
 

 
 
We don't have wild shiitake mushrooms here, so I decided to grow them myself. This time, I planted spawns into the holes I made around the tree trunk before. If the season is suitable, the mushrooms will be sprouting one after another in less than six months. I planted them at the top of the mountain because first, the temperature up there is low; second, this way they won't get picked by others. I picked out the better quality ones and made them into sauce. You can have it all the way through summer. view all
 
 
 
 


 
 
We don't have wild shiitake mushrooms here, so I decided to grow them myself. This time, I planted spawns into the holes I made around the tree trunk before. If the season is suitable, the mushrooms will be sprouting one after another in less than six months. I planted them at the top of the mountain because first, the temperature up there is low; second, this way they won't get picked by others. I picked out the better quality ones and made them into sauce. You can have it all the way through summer.
523
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The root of cucumber got dark, some bugs bite it?

QuestionsKGriffin replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 523 views • 2018-01-19 15:52 • came from similar tags

403
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Do somebody know what's wrong with my pepper ,they got white dot stuff .

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Questionskatrisn posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 403 views • 2017-12-30 07:39 • came from similar tags

438
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My garlic leaves became yellow

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QuestionsJayden posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 438 views • 2017-12-30 07:35 • came from similar tags

373
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How can my tomato became like these?

QuestionsMohdtariq replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 373 views • 2017-12-16 20:59 • came from similar tags

394
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My eggplants have disease,Does someone know how to fix it?

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QuestionsWilliam posted a question • 0 users followed • 0 replies • 394 views • 2017-12-06 22:52 • came from similar tags

405
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What's wrong with my tomato, how to cure this kind of disease?

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QuestionsWilliam posted a question • 0 users followed • 0 replies • 405 views • 2017-12-06 22:52 • came from similar tags

191
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How to grow bell pepper?

ExperienceHowgrowTV posted the article • 0 comments • 191 views • 2017-11-07 16:40 • came from similar tags

 

 
 
 
subtitle:


here's a tale of two peppers the green one costs half the price of the red but here's the thing they're the same peppers seriously so why you paying double for red to answer that we have to answer this pepper how does it grow [Music] now all peppers start out green at this stage they're mature but not yet ripe it's like a green tomato before it turns red it's sugars aren't fully developed the red yellow and orange bell peppers you buy in the store are all different varieties that have been bred to fully ripen at those colors bell peppers are great sources of vitamins A b6 and C but yellow peppers pack about three times more vitamin C than Reds [Music] in this episode I'm following the story of the red bell-pepper it takes three to four weeks for a pepper to go from green to chocolate color to finally read each week caring for it gets riskier translation more expensive see red peppers are super sensitive to extremes like a sudden heavy rain or a sharp temperature dip that's why most are grown in warm climates like California or Florida New Jersey is a top producing state for green peppers in South Jersey there's one farmer left growing Reds and open fields that's Bob Booth a legend among farmers his secret is in the soil Bob nourishes the land for three years before planting peppers or any crop on that plot how does he do this for starters he uses leaf compost in place of chemical fertilizer so this is just just leaves from people's backyard but so warm as the leaves break down they add rich organic matter to the soil this supplies vital nutrients to Bob's crops you have to be in it not for the year and now you have to think longer term and the next generation many farmers are fertilizing the crop daily or weekly through the irrigation system and it's almost as if the crop is treated like a junkie on cocaine we're letting the soil feel across you want to leave the land in better condition that when you took it on [Music] [Music] when the soil is ready Bob transplants the seedlings he's grown in the greenhouse yes it all starts from those tiny seeds inside your pepper when the plants are mature enough they flower and those flowers are pollinated simply by the wind as the fruit begins to grow Bob stakes the plants to keep them off the ground and he stays vigilant for fungus and insects that could easily wipe out his crop a crack as Tiny as this could let rain seep in and bacteria grow quickly causing the pepper to rot but it's about way more than just keeping these peppers alive bob has to satisfy our demand for cosmetically perfect peppers this is one that was jammed in tight and it's misshapen you couldn't put that in on the grocery store shelf that's a beautiful pepper perfect shape this is cosmetically perfect it's a number one this one is not morons up getting disposed back on the ground consumers would be surprised by the amount of waste or sort house that you have and not only in pepper but in all crops [Music] when the peppers are 80% red harvesters carefully break the stems by hand the peppers will finish coloring by the time they hit store shelves a couple days later this harvest crew spends hours with their backs bent over the peppers when they're done they move with impressive speed and unison to gather all the buckets this is the very definition of teamwork any peppers that are misshapen go to processors who cut them up Bob earns seven times less for these still perfectly delicious peppers [Music] as winter moves in the late season harvest is usually Bob's best he says a touch of cold weather actually sweetens his crop and since we now know that most of America's red peppers are grown in warm climates that means these peppers just might be the country's sweetest [Music] wait have you subscribed yet don't leave until you subscribe click that button is it here is it here or is it here click it [Music] view all
 


 
 
 
subtitle:


here's a tale of two peppers the green one costs half the price of the red but here's the thing they're the same peppers seriously so why you paying double for red to answer that we have to answer this pepper how does it grow [Music] now all peppers start out green at this stage they're mature but not yet ripe it's like a green tomato before it turns red it's sugars aren't fully developed the red yellow and orange bell peppers you buy in the store are all different varieties that have been bred to fully ripen at those colors bell peppers are great sources of vitamins A b6 and C but yellow peppers pack about three times more vitamin C than Reds [Music] in this episode I'm following the story of the red bell-pepper it takes three to four weeks for a pepper to go from green to chocolate color to finally read each week caring for it gets riskier translation more expensive see red peppers are super sensitive to extremes like a sudden heavy rain or a sharp temperature dip that's why most are grown in warm climates like California or Florida New Jersey is a top producing state for green peppers in South Jersey there's one farmer left growing Reds and open fields that's Bob Booth a legend among farmers his secret is in the soil Bob nourishes the land for three years before planting peppers or any crop on that plot how does he do this for starters he uses leaf compost in place of chemical fertilizer so this is just just leaves from people's backyard but so warm as the leaves break down they add rich organic matter to the soil this supplies vital nutrients to Bob's crops you have to be in it not for the year and now you have to think longer term and the next generation many farmers are fertilizing the crop daily or weekly through the irrigation system and it's almost as if the crop is treated like a junkie on cocaine we're letting the soil feel across you want to leave the land in better condition that when you took it on [Music] [Music] when the soil is ready Bob transplants the seedlings he's grown in the greenhouse yes it all starts from those tiny seeds inside your pepper when the plants are mature enough they flower and those flowers are pollinated simply by the wind as the fruit begins to grow Bob stakes the plants to keep them off the ground and he stays vigilant for fungus and insects that could easily wipe out his crop a crack as Tiny as this could let rain seep in and bacteria grow quickly causing the pepper to rot but it's about way more than just keeping these peppers alive bob has to satisfy our demand for cosmetically perfect peppers this is one that was jammed in tight and it's misshapen you couldn't put that in on the grocery store shelf that's a beautiful pepper perfect shape this is cosmetically perfect it's a number one this one is not morons up getting disposed back on the ground consumers would be surprised by the amount of waste or sort house that you have and not only in pepper but in all crops [Music] when the peppers are 80% red harvesters carefully break the stems by hand the peppers will finish coloring by the time they hit store shelves a couple days later this harvest crew spends hours with their backs bent over the peppers when they're done they move with impressive speed and unison to gather all the buckets this is the very definition of teamwork any peppers that are misshapen go to processors who cut them up Bob earns seven times less for these still perfectly delicious peppers [Music] as winter moves in the late season harvest is usually Bob's best he says a touch of cold weather actually sweetens his crop and since we now know that most of America's red peppers are grown in warm climates that means these peppers just might be the country's sweetest [Music] wait have you subscribed yet don't leave until you subscribe click that button is it here is it here or is it here click it [Music]

194
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How to dry vegetables

ExperienceIsidore posted the article • 0 comments • 194 views • 2017-10-30 17:39 • came from similar tags

Drying is probably the oldest method of food preservation. Though canned and frozen foods have taken over the major role once played by dried foods, drying is still cheaper and easier by comparison. Some other advantages of dried foods are that they take up less storage space and will keep well for a long time — up to 12 months — if
prepared and stored properly. Unlike frozen foods, they are not dependent on a power source. Though you may find canned and frozen vegetables are closer in taste and appearance to fresh food, you'll like having a stock of dried vegetables on hand to add variety and special flavor to meals. 
 
STOPPING THE SPOILERS

Drying preserves vegetables by removing moisture, thus cutting off the water supply that would nourish food spoilers like bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The moisture content drops so low that spoilage organisms can't grow.
Although there's a definite technique to drying vegetables, it isn't quite as precise as the procedures used for freezing or canning. Unless you'll be using an electric food dryer, you'll have to use trial and error to find the best way to maintain the proper oven temperature throughout the drying process and to provide good ventilation so moisture from the food can escape. Drying times are given in the recipes for the individual vegetables, but these times are only approximate. Every oven is different, and drying times also depend on how many vegetables you're drying at once, how thinly they've been sliced, and how steady you've kept the heat. So you'll have to experiment at first with drying times. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to judging when your vegetables are dry enough to keep the spoilers from contaminating them.

Vegetables for drying

There are a great many vegetables you can dry at home for use in perking up your salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. Good vegetables to dry include green beans, corn, peas, peppers, okra, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and summer squash.
Herbs also drywell. For more information on drying herbs, see "How to Store and Use Herbs," later in this book.

Although many vegetables drywell, some vegetables should be preserved by other methods for best results. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes don't drywell because of their high moisture content. Asparagus and broccoli are better frozen
to retain their flavor and texture. And if you've got the storage space, you may find it more practical to
store fresh carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, and winter squash in cold storage where they'll keep for several months without any special preserving treatment.

FOOD DRYING METHODS

The sun, of course, Is the food dryer our ancestors used. If you live where Old Sol shines long, you too can dry fruits and vegetables outdoors. But those in less sunny regions will want a little help from a kitchen oven (gas, electric, convection, or microwave) or one of the new electric dryers or dehydrators. You can also make your own box dryer.

Oven drying is faster than using an electric dryer or dehydrator, but the electric dryers can handle much larger food loads than any of the ovens. Oven drying is best for small-scale preserving, since the ordinary kitchen model will hold no more than four to six pounds of food at one time. If you've got an extra-big vegetable garden and expect to dry food
in quantity, you may want to investigate the new electric dryers or dehydrators, available in some stores and through seed catalogs. Several of the small convection ovens now on the market also have special racks available for drying vegetables. When using an electric dryer, or a convection or microwave oven for drying vegetables, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Oven drying

Oven drying may be the easiest way for you to dry food, because it eliminates the need for special equipment. If you've never tried dried vegetables before, why not do up a small batch and sample the taste and texture?

Gas and electric ovens. Preheat your gas or electric oven to 140°F for drying vegetables; you'll need an oven thermometer that registers as low as 100°F in order to keep this temperature constant throughout the many hours of the drying process. Since ovens will vary, you'll probably have to experiment until you learn what works best with yours. For example, the pilot light on some gas stoves may provide just enough heat, or the light bulb in the oven may keep it warm enough for drying vegetables. Some electric ovens have a "low" or "warm" setting that may provide the right temperature for drying.
You must keep the oven door open slightly during drying, so moist air can escape. Use a rolled newspaper, wood block, hot pad, or other similar item to prop open the oven door about one inch for an electric oven and four to six inches for a gas oven. Sometimes it also helps to place an electric fan set on "low" in front of the oven door to keep air circulating. Don't use a fan for a gas oven with a pilot light, though; it can blow out the pilot.

You'll be able to read the oven thermometer easily if you put it in the middle of the top tray of vegetables, take a reading after the first 10 minutes, and, if necessary, make adjustments in the door opening or the temperature control. After^ that, check the oven temperature every 30 minutes during the drying process to be sure it remains constant at 140°F.

To keep air circulating around the food, your drying trays should be one to two inches smaller all around than the interior of your oven. If you want to add more trays, place blocks of wood at the corners of the oven racks and stack the trays at least one-and- a-half inches apart. You can dry up to four trays at once in a conventional oven, but remember that a big load takes longer to dry than a smaller one. Don't use the top position of the oven rack in an electric oven for drying, because food on the top tray will dry too quickly.

Since the temperature varies inside the oven, it's important to shift your vegetable drying trays every half-hour. Rotate the trays from front to back, and shift them from top to bottom. Numbering the trays will help you keep track of the rotation order. You'll also need to stir the vegetables every 30 minutes, to be sure the pieces are drying evenly.

Convection ovens. To dry vegetables in a convection oven, arrange them on the dehydrating racks provided, and place the racks in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 150°F for vegetables, 100°F for herbs. The air should feel warm, not hot. Keep an oven thermometer inside the oven, so you can keep track of the temperature. Prop the oven door open one to one-and-a-half inches to allow moisture to evaporate. Set the oven timer to the "stay o n " position. Or, if your oven doesn't have a "stay on" option, set it for maximum time possible, then reset It during drying, if necessary. Drying times in a convection oven are usually shorter, so check
foods for doneness at the lower range of times given in the recipes. Rotate the racks and stir the vegetables as you would using a conventional oven.

Microwave ovens. To dry foods in a microwave oven, follow the directions that come with your appliance. Usually, you arrange the prepared vegetables in a single, even layer on paper towels, cover them with more paper towels, and then dry the food at a reduced power setting. If you have a microwave roasting rack, arrange the vegetables on It before drying. Stir the vegetables and replace the paper towels with fresh ones periodically. Exact drying times can vary widely, depending on the wattage and efficiency of your oven, the food itself, and the humidity, so you'll need to check frequently and keep a record of best drying times for reference.

Food dryers

Both commercial and homemade food dryers provide automatically controlled heat and ventilation. You can buy the new electric dryers or dehydrators in many hardware, housewares, farm supply, and health food stores. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the size of the appliance and other special features. Or you can make your own drying box, following the directions given below.

Electric dryers or dehydrators. These are lightweight metal boxes with drawer racks for drying foods, which will hold up to 14 pounds of fresh vegetables. If you'll be doing a great deal of home drying, look into an electric dryer, because drying large quantities of vegetables could tie up your kitchen oven for days at a time. Although electric dryers use less electricity for drying than would an electric oven for the same amount of vegetables, electric dryers run at lower temperatures and drying times are a bit longer.

When using an electric dryer or dehydrator, always follow the manufacturer's directions for drying foods. 
 
Homemade drying box. A simple-to-make drying box can be constructed from a cardboard box, as in the instructions that follow. Or you may invent some other alternatives. For example, your radiators may send out enough heat to dry foods in winter, or perhaps your attic in the summer is hot and dry enough. Never use space heaters for drying vegetables, though — space heaters stir up dust and dirt, which contaminate the food.

How to make a drying box. A hardware or discount store should have everything you need to make this simple dryer: 
• Either a metal cookie sheet with sides or a jelly- roll pan is needed to hold the food.

• An empty cardboard box (that has the same top dimensions as the cookie sheet) forms the drying box. The sheet should just fit on top of the box, or the rims of the sides should rest on the edges of the open-topped box. 
• A box of heavy-duty or extra-wide aluminum foil is used to line the box.
• A small can of black paint is used to paint the bottom of the cookie sheet; buy a spray can or a small brush.
• A 60-watt light bulb and socket attached to a cord and plug provide the heat. 
 
Line the inside of the box with foil, shiny side up. Cut a tiny notch in one corner for the cord to run out. Set the light fixture in the center, resting it on a crumpled piece of foil. Paint the bottom of the cookie sheet black and let it dry.

Prepare the vegetables according to the recipe. Spread them in a single, even layer on the black- bottomed cookie sheet. Then put the sheet in place on top of the box. Plug in the light bulb to preheat the box and dry until the food is done according to the recipe. Each recipe specifies how to tell when food is sufficiently dry. If you're drying more than one

sheet of food you II have to make more than one drying box. Don't prepare more food than you can dry at one time.

BASIC DRYING EQUIPMENT

Unless you decide to buy an electric dryer or dehydrator, you've probably already got everything necessary for home drying vegetables. In addition to an oven or a box food dryer, you'll need:

• A scale to weigh food before and after drying. • An oven thermometer that will read as low as 100°F for maintaining proper oven temperature. • Sharp stainless steel knives that won't discolor the vegetables, for thin-slicing, paring, or cutting the food in half.

A cutting board for chopping and slicing. Be sure to scrub the board thoroughly before and after use.

Baking or cookie sheets for use as drying trays. Unless you're making a box food dryer, cookie sheets without raised edges are best, since they allow hot air to circulate around all sides of the vegetables. (For microwave or convection oven drying, you'll need a special rack.) Baking or cookie sheets used for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven, so air can circulate.

A blancher for pretreatment of most vegetables. Use a ready-made blancher; or make one using a deep pot with a cover, and a colander or gasket that will fit down inside the pot. For steam blanching, you'll need a rack or steamer basket.

A long, flexible spatula for stirring the vegetable pieces to insure even drying.
Airtight storage containers, with tight-fitting lids, that are also molsture/vaporproof. Use glass canning or other jars, coffee cans lined with plastic bags, freezer containers, or refrigerator-ware.

You can also use double plastic bags; close them tightly with string, rubber bands, or twist ties. An electric fan to circulate the air in front of your oven, if necessary.  
 
 
BASIC INGREDIENTS

Choose perfect vegetables that are tender, mature (but not woody), and very, very fresh. Vegetables must be prepared and dried immediately after harvesting, or they'll lose flavor and quality. Every minute from harvesting to the drying tray counts — so hurry. Never use produce with bad spots, and harvest only the amount of vegetables you can dry at one session.

Since vegetables must be chilled quickly after blanching, you'll need ice at hand to keep the cooling water really cold. Keep a reserve of ice in the freezer and you won't run short. One way is to start filling heavy-duty plastic bags with Ice cubes a few days before you'll be home drying; or rinse out empty milk • cartons, then fill them with water and freeze.

The kitchen sink is a favorite spot for holding ice water to chill vegetables, but if you want to keep it free for other uses, a plastic dishpan or other large,clean container also works very well.

BASIC DRYING TECHNIQUES

Although the techniques for drying vegetables aren't asprecise as those for freezing or canning, there's definitely a right way to go about it. As with all preserving methods, you must always begin with the freshest and highest-quality vegetables to insure good results. Cleanliness and sanitation when handling and preparing the food are also crucial. And, though drying vegetables isn't difficult to do, it demands plenty of careful attention. The vegetables must be stirred, the temperature checked, and tray positions changed about every half hour. That means you must be at home during the whole time it takes to dry your vegetables.

Speed is of the essence when preparing foods to dry. For best results, vegetables should be blanched, cooled, and blotted dry within a very short time of harvesting. And you must never interrupt the drying process once it's begun. You can't cool partly dried food and then start it up again later, because there's a chance bacteria, molds, and yeasts will find a home in it. Always schedule your home drying for a day when you're certain your work won't be interrupted. 
 
Cleaning and cutting

Harvest only as much food as you can dry at one time. Using a kitchen oven, that's about four to six pounds; an electric dryer or dehydrator can handle up to 14 pounds of fresh produce. Wash and drain the vegetables, then cut and prepare as the recipe directs. Depending on the size of the vegetables and the dryer, that could mean slicing, grating, cutting, or simply breaking the food into pieces so it will dry evenly on all sides. Remember that thin pieces dry faster than thick ones. If you have a choice between French-cutting and crosscutting green beans, remember that the French-cut beans will dry faster.

Blanching

Nearly all vegetables must be blanched before drying. Blanching—a brief heat treatment—stops the action of enzymes, those catalysts for chemical change present in all foods. If certain enzymes aren't deactivated before vegetables are dried, the flavor and color of the food will be destroyed. The drying process alone isn't enough to stop enzyme activity.

Although blanching can also help seal in nutrients, some other water-soluble nutrients are leached out into the cooking water. You may want to steam blanch your vegetables; it takes a bit longer, but won't lead to as great a loss of nutrients.

Always follow the blanching times given in the recipes exactly. Overblanching will result in the loss of vitamins and minerals; under blanching won't do the job of stopping enzyme action. Either way, you'll end up with an inferior product.
Boiling water blanching. Heat one gallon of water to boiling in a blancher. Put no more than one pound or four cups of prepared vegetables at a time into the blancher's insert, colander, or strainer, and carefully lower it into boiling water for the time given in the recipe.

Steam blanching. Pour enough water into the blancher to cover the bottom, but not touch the insert. Heat to boiling. Arrange the prepared vegetables in a single layer in the blancher's insert; put them in the blancher over boiling water, cover tightly, and steam for the time given in the recipe. You can use any large pot or kettle for steam blanching by putting a rack about three inches above the bottom to hold the vegetables in the steam and up out of the boiling water. You may also wish to put the vegetables in a cheesecloth bag to keep the pieces together during blanching.

Chilling

You must always chill blanched vegetables before drying them, to be certain the cooking process has stopped. After removing the vegetables from the blancher, immerse the colander or steamer rack full of vegetables in a sink full of ice water or a dishpan full of ice water. The vegetables should be chilled for the same amount of time the recipe gives for blanching in boiling water. Drain well, then blot with paper towels.

Preparing to dry

Spread the blanched and drained vegetable pieces in a single, even layer on the drying tray. (You can dry more than one vegetable at the same time, but strong-smelling vegetables such as onions, cabbage, and carrots should be dried separately.) Put the trays in the oven or electric dryer, leaving at least one to two inches between the trays for air circulation.

Maintaining proper drying temperature

Vegetables must be dried at low, even temperatures — just enough heat to dry the pieces without cooking them. The proper temperature for drying in a conventional oven is 140°F, 1S0°F for convection ovens. Follow the manufacturer's directions for microwave ovens and all other appliances. Maintaining the right temperature steadily, with some air circulation, is the trick to successful drying. Electric dryers and dehydrators automatically maintain the right temperature. For oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, check your oven thermometer every half hour. (To insure even drying, you must also stir the
vegetables every 30 minutes or so, shift the trays from top to bottom, and rotate the trays from front to back.)

Although rapid drying is important, too rapid drying in an oven will result in the outer surface of the food hardening before the moisture inside has evaporated (case hardening). You can prevent case hardening by keeping a constant watch on the oven temperature and doing whatever is needed to maintain the heat at 140°F.

Scorching. Each vegetable has its own critical temperature beyond which a scorched taste will develop. Although there's not much danger of scorching at the start of the drying process, vegetables can scorch easily during the last couple of hours. Even slight scorching will ruin the flavor and affect the nutritive value of dried foods, so be extravigilant about maintaining the proper temperature toward the end of the drying process.

Ventilation. When vegetables are drying, the moisture they contain escapes by evaporating into the surrounding air. If the air around the food is trapped, it will quickly reach a saturation point. Trapped, saturated air won't be able to hold any additional moisture — and drying won't take place. For this reason, ventilation in and around your oven is as important as keeping the temperature constant.

Electric dryers or dehydrators automatically provide proper ventilation. With oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, you'll need to leave the oven door slightly ajar — and possibly use an electric fan to insure good air circulation.

In addition, the cookie sheets or trays you use for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven so air can circulate around the front, sides, and back of the trays. There should also be at least three inches of air space at the top of the oven.

Testing for doneness

In most forms of food preserving, processing times are exact. You know just how long it takes before the food is done. However, the times for drying vary considerably — from four hours to more than 12 — depending on the kind of vegetable, how thinly it's sliced, how much food is on each tray, and how much is being dried in the oven or dryer at one time. The recipes that follow give you the drying time range for each vegetable, but the only way you can be sure the food is sufficiently dry is to test sample pieces. 
 
When you think the vegetables are dry, remove a few pieces from the tray, then return the tray to the oven. Let the sample pieces cool before testing — even food that's perfectly dry will feel soft and
moist while still warm. When the pieces are cool, follow the test for doneness given for the vegetable in each recipe. A rule of thumb is that properly dried vegetables are hard and brittle to the touch. Exceptions to the rule are mushrooms, sweet peppers, and squash, which will feel pliable and leathery when dry. Some food experts recommend the hammer test: if sufficiently dry, the vegetable pieces will shatter when struck with a hammer.

Conditioning

Foods don't always dry evenly, nor does each piece or slice dry at exactly the same rate as all the others. To be sure all the food in a single batch is evenly dried, you'll have to condition it. Put the cooled, dried vegetables into a large, deep crock, dishpan, jar, or coffee can; then store it in a warm, dry room for a week to 10 days. Cover the jar or can lightly with cheesecloth to keep out insects, and stir the dried pieces at least once a day so that the moisture from any underdried pieces will be absorbed by the overdried pieces.

After conditioning, give the vegetables one final treatment to get rid of any insects or insect eggs. Either put the dried vegetables in the freezer for a few hours, or heat them on a cookie sheet in a closed oven at 175°F for 15 minutes. Be sure to let the food cool completely again before packaging.

HOW TO STORE DRIED VEGETABLES

Keeping out air and moisture is the secret to good dried foods. To maintain the quality and safety of your dried vegetables, you'll need to take special care when packaging and storing them.

Even when you're using an oven or an electric dehydrator, you'll have to watch out for the effects of humidity on drying foods. Choose a bright, sunny day for your home drying—that way you'll keep the dried vegetables from picking up moisture from the surrounding air after they leave the oven or dryer.

Packaging

Dried foods are vulnerable to contamination by insects as soon as they're removed from the oven or electric dryer. To protect them, you must package dried vegetables in airtight, moisture/vaporproof containers just as soon as they're completely dry. Canning jars that have been rinsed out with boiling water and dried, of course, make good containers, as do coffee cans and plastic freezer bags. When using a coffee can, first wrap the vegetable pieces in a plastic bag to keep the metal of the can from affecting the flavor of the food.

Pint-size containers or small plastic bags are best for packaging dried vegetables. Try to pack the food tightly but without crushing it. If you're using
plastic bags, force out as much air as possible before closing them. By using small bags, several may be packed into a larger jar or coffee can — that way you can use small portions as needed, without exposing the whole container to possible contamination each time it's opened.

Storing foods safely

Store your packaged, dried vegetables in a cool, dark, dry place. The cooler the temperature of the storage area, the longer foods will retain their high quality. However, dried foods can't be stored indefinitely, since they do lose vitamins, flavor, color, and aroma during storage. Your pantry or kitchen cupboards may provide good storage, if the area remains cool. A dry basement can also be a good spot. Dried vegetables can be stored in the freezer, too — but why take up valuable freezer space with foods that will keep at cool, room temperature?

Many dried vegetables will keep up to 12 months. If properly stored. Carrots, onions, and cabbage will spoil more quickly, so use them up within six months.

To be on the safe side, check the packages of dried vegetables from time to time. If you find mold, the food is no longer safe and should be discarded immediately. If you find a little moisture, but no spoilage, heat the dried vegetables for 15 minutes
in a 175°F oven; then cool and repackage. If you find much moisture, the vegetables must be put through the entire drying process again. Remember, you must always cool dried foods thoroughly before packaging; if packaged while still warm, they'll sweat and may mold.

HOW TO USE DRIED VEGETABLES

To use dried vegetables, you have to reverse the drying or dehydration process to rehydrate them. This is accomplished in water or other liquid. If you soak dried vegetables before using them, they'll cook much faster. To rehydrate, add two cups of water for each cup of dried vegetables; boiling water will shorten the soaking time. After soaking, the vegetables should regain nearly the same size as when fresh. 
 
Rehydrated vegetables are best used in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and other combination dishes. See the recipes that follow for some serving suggestions.  view all
Drying is probably the oldest method of food preservation. Though canned and frozen foods have taken over the major role once played by dried foods, drying is still cheaper and easier by comparison. Some other advantages of dried foods are that they take up less storage space and will keep well for a long time — up to 12 months — if
prepared and stored properly. Unlike frozen foods, they are not dependent on a power source. Though you may find canned and frozen vegetables are closer in taste and appearance to fresh food, you'll like having a stock of dried vegetables on hand to add variety and special flavor to meals. 
 
STOPPING THE SPOILERS

Drying preserves vegetables by removing moisture, thus cutting off the water supply that would nourish food spoilers like bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The moisture content drops so low that spoilage organisms can't grow.
Although there's a definite technique to drying vegetables, it isn't quite as precise as the procedures used for freezing or canning. Unless you'll be using an electric food dryer, you'll have to use trial and error to find the best way to maintain the proper oven temperature throughout the drying process and to provide good ventilation so moisture from the food can escape. Drying times are given in the recipes for the individual vegetables, but these times are only approximate. Every oven is different, and drying times also depend on how many vegetables you're drying at once, how thinly they've been sliced, and how steady you've kept the heat. So you'll have to experiment at first with drying times. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to judging when your vegetables are dry enough to keep the spoilers from contaminating them.

Vegetables for drying

There are a great many vegetables you can dry at home for use in perking up your salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. Good vegetables to dry include green beans, corn, peas, peppers, okra, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and summer squash.
Herbs also drywell. For more information on drying herbs, see "How to Store and Use Herbs," later in this book.

Although many vegetables drywell, some vegetables should be preserved by other methods for best results. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes don't drywell because of their high moisture content. Asparagus and broccoli are better frozen
to retain their flavor and texture. And if you've got the storage space, you may find it more practical to
store fresh carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, and winter squash in cold storage where they'll keep for several months without any special preserving treatment.

FOOD DRYING METHODS

The sun, of course, Is the food dryer our ancestors used. If you live where Old Sol shines long, you too can dry fruits and vegetables outdoors. But those in less sunny regions will want a little help from a kitchen oven (gas, electric, convection, or microwave) or one of the new electric dryers or dehydrators. You can also make your own box dryer.

Oven drying is faster than using an electric dryer or dehydrator, but the electric dryers can handle much larger food loads than any of the ovens. Oven drying is best for small-scale preserving, since the ordinary kitchen model will hold no more than four to six pounds of food at one time. If you've got an extra-big vegetable garden and expect to dry food
in quantity, you may want to investigate the new electric dryers or dehydrators, available in some stores and through seed catalogs. Several of the small convection ovens now on the market also have special racks available for drying vegetables. When using an electric dryer, or a convection or microwave oven for drying vegetables, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Oven drying

Oven drying may be the easiest way for you to dry food, because it eliminates the need for special equipment. If you've never tried dried vegetables before, why not do up a small batch and sample the taste and texture?

Gas and electric ovens. Preheat your gas or electric oven to 140°F for drying vegetables; you'll need an oven thermometer that registers as low as 100°F in order to keep this temperature constant throughout the many hours of the drying process. Since ovens will vary, you'll probably have to experiment until you learn what works best with yours. For example, the pilot light on some gas stoves may provide just enough heat, or the light bulb in the oven may keep it warm enough for drying vegetables. Some electric ovens have a "low" or "warm" setting that may provide the right temperature for drying.
You must keep the oven door open slightly during drying, so moist air can escape. Use a rolled newspaper, wood block, hot pad, or other similar item to prop open the oven door about one inch for an electric oven and four to six inches for a gas oven. Sometimes it also helps to place an electric fan set on "low" in front of the oven door to keep air circulating. Don't use a fan for a gas oven with a pilot light, though; it can blow out the pilot.

You'll be able to read the oven thermometer easily if you put it in the middle of the top tray of vegetables, take a reading after the first 10 minutes, and, if necessary, make adjustments in the door opening or the temperature control. After^ that, check the oven temperature every 30 minutes during the drying process to be sure it remains constant at 140°F.

To keep air circulating around the food, your drying trays should be one to two inches smaller all around than the interior of your oven. If you want to add more trays, place blocks of wood at the corners of the oven racks and stack the trays at least one-and- a-half inches apart. You can dry up to four trays at once in a conventional oven, but remember that a big load takes longer to dry than a smaller one. Don't use the top position of the oven rack in an electric oven for drying, because food on the top tray will dry too quickly.

Since the temperature varies inside the oven, it's important to shift your vegetable drying trays every half-hour. Rotate the trays from front to back, and shift them from top to bottom. Numbering the trays will help you keep track of the rotation order. You'll also need to stir the vegetables every 30 minutes, to be sure the pieces are drying evenly.

Convection ovens. To dry vegetables in a convection oven, arrange them on the dehydrating racks provided, and place the racks in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 150°F for vegetables, 100°F for herbs. The air should feel warm, not hot. Keep an oven thermometer inside the oven, so you can keep track of the temperature. Prop the oven door open one to one-and-a-half inches to allow moisture to evaporate. Set the oven timer to the "stay o n " position. Or, if your oven doesn't have a "stay on" option, set it for maximum time possible, then reset It during drying, if necessary. Drying times in a convection oven are usually shorter, so check
foods for doneness at the lower range of times given in the recipes. Rotate the racks and stir the vegetables as you would using a conventional oven.

Microwave ovens. To dry foods in a microwave oven, follow the directions that come with your appliance. Usually, you arrange the prepared vegetables in a single, even layer on paper towels, cover them with more paper towels, and then dry the food at a reduced power setting. If you have a microwave roasting rack, arrange the vegetables on It before drying. Stir the vegetables and replace the paper towels with fresh ones periodically. Exact drying times can vary widely, depending on the wattage and efficiency of your oven, the food itself, and the humidity, so you'll need to check frequently and keep a record of best drying times for reference.

Food dryers

Both commercial and homemade food dryers provide automatically controlled heat and ventilation. You can buy the new electric dryers or dehydrators in many hardware, housewares, farm supply, and health food stores. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the size of the appliance and other special features. Or you can make your own drying box, following the directions given below.

Electric dryers or dehydrators. These are lightweight metal boxes with drawer racks for drying foods, which will hold up to 14 pounds of fresh vegetables. If you'll be doing a great deal of home drying, look into an electric dryer, because drying large quantities of vegetables could tie up your kitchen oven for days at a time. Although electric dryers use less electricity for drying than would an electric oven for the same amount of vegetables, electric dryers run at lower temperatures and drying times are a bit longer.

When using an electric dryer or dehydrator, always follow the manufacturer's directions for drying foods. 
 
Homemade drying box. A simple-to-make drying box can be constructed from a cardboard box, as in the instructions that follow. Or you may invent some other alternatives. For example, your radiators may send out enough heat to dry foods in winter, or perhaps your attic in the summer is hot and dry enough. Never use space heaters for drying vegetables, though — space heaters stir up dust and dirt, which contaminate the food.

How to make a drying box. A hardware or discount store should have everything you need to make this simple dryer: 
• Either a metal cookie sheet with sides or a jelly- roll pan is needed to hold the food.

• An empty cardboard box (that has the same top dimensions as the cookie sheet) forms the drying box. The sheet should just fit on top of the box, or the rims of the sides should rest on the edges of the open-topped box. 
• A box of heavy-duty or extra-wide aluminum foil is used to line the box.
• A small can of black paint is used to paint the bottom of the cookie sheet; buy a spray can or a small brush.
• A 60-watt light bulb and socket attached to a cord and plug provide the heat. 
 
Line the inside of the box with foil, shiny side up. Cut a tiny notch in one corner for the cord to run out. Set the light fixture in the center, resting it on a crumpled piece of foil. Paint the bottom of the cookie sheet black and let it dry.

Prepare the vegetables according to the recipe. Spread them in a single, even layer on the black- bottomed cookie sheet. Then put the sheet in place on top of the box. Plug in the light bulb to preheat the box and dry until the food is done according to the recipe. Each recipe specifies how to tell when food is sufficiently dry. If you're drying more than one

sheet of food you II have to make more than one drying box. Don't prepare more food than you can dry at one time.

BASIC DRYING EQUIPMENT

Unless you decide to buy an electric dryer or dehydrator, you've probably already got everything necessary for home drying vegetables. In addition to an oven or a box food dryer, you'll need:

• A scale to weigh food before and after drying. • An oven thermometer that will read as low as 100°F for maintaining proper oven temperature. • Sharp stainless steel knives that won't discolor the vegetables, for thin-slicing, paring, or cutting the food in half.

A cutting board for chopping and slicing. Be sure to scrub the board thoroughly before and after use.

Baking or cookie sheets for use as drying trays. Unless you're making a box food dryer, cookie sheets without raised edges are best, since they allow hot air to circulate around all sides of the vegetables. (For microwave or convection oven drying, you'll need a special rack.) Baking or cookie sheets used for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven, so air can circulate.

A blancher for pretreatment of most vegetables. Use a ready-made blancher; or make one using a deep pot with a cover, and a colander or gasket that will fit down inside the pot. For steam blanching, you'll need a rack or steamer basket.

A long, flexible spatula for stirring the vegetable pieces to insure even drying.
Airtight storage containers, with tight-fitting lids, that are also molsture/vaporproof. Use glass canning or other jars, coffee cans lined with plastic bags, freezer containers, or refrigerator-ware.

You can also use double plastic bags; close them tightly with string, rubber bands, or twist ties. An electric fan to circulate the air in front of your oven, if necessary.  
 
 
BASIC INGREDIENTS

Choose perfect vegetables that are tender, mature (but not woody), and very, very fresh. Vegetables must be prepared and dried immediately after harvesting, or they'll lose flavor and quality. Every minute from harvesting to the drying tray counts — so hurry. Never use produce with bad spots, and harvest only the amount of vegetables you can dry at one session.

Since vegetables must be chilled quickly after blanching, you'll need ice at hand to keep the cooling water really cold. Keep a reserve of ice in the freezer and you won't run short. One way is to start filling heavy-duty plastic bags with Ice cubes a few days before you'll be home drying; or rinse out empty milk • cartons, then fill them with water and freeze.

The kitchen sink is a favorite spot for holding ice water to chill vegetables, but if you want to keep it free for other uses, a plastic dishpan or other large,clean container also works very well.

BASIC DRYING TECHNIQUES

Although the techniques for drying vegetables aren't asprecise as those for freezing or canning, there's definitely a right way to go about it. As with all preserving methods, you must always begin with the freshest and highest-quality vegetables to insure good results. Cleanliness and sanitation when handling and preparing the food are also crucial. And, though drying vegetables isn't difficult to do, it demands plenty of careful attention. The vegetables must be stirred, the temperature checked, and tray positions changed about every half hour. That means you must be at home during the whole time it takes to dry your vegetables.

Speed is of the essence when preparing foods to dry. For best results, vegetables should be blanched, cooled, and blotted dry within a very short time of harvesting. And you must never interrupt the drying process once it's begun. You can't cool partly dried food and then start it up again later, because there's a chance bacteria, molds, and yeasts will find a home in it. Always schedule your home drying for a day when you're certain your work won't be interrupted. 
 
Cleaning and cutting

Harvest only as much food as you can dry at one time. Using a kitchen oven, that's about four to six pounds; an electric dryer or dehydrator can handle up to 14 pounds of fresh produce. Wash and drain the vegetables, then cut and prepare as the recipe directs. Depending on the size of the vegetables and the dryer, that could mean slicing, grating, cutting, or simply breaking the food into pieces so it will dry evenly on all sides. Remember that thin pieces dry faster than thick ones. If you have a choice between French-cutting and crosscutting green beans, remember that the French-cut beans will dry faster.

Blanching

Nearly all vegetables must be blanched before drying. Blanching—a brief heat treatment—stops the action of enzymes, those catalysts for chemical change present in all foods. If certain enzymes aren't deactivated before vegetables are dried, the flavor and color of the food will be destroyed. The drying process alone isn't enough to stop enzyme activity.

Although blanching can also help seal in nutrients, some other water-soluble nutrients are leached out into the cooking water. You may want to steam blanch your vegetables; it takes a bit longer, but won't lead to as great a loss of nutrients.

Always follow the blanching times given in the recipes exactly. Overblanching will result in the loss of vitamins and minerals; under blanching won't do the job of stopping enzyme action. Either way, you'll end up with an inferior product.
Boiling water blanching. Heat one gallon of water to boiling in a blancher. Put no more than one pound or four cups of prepared vegetables at a time into the blancher's insert, colander, or strainer, and carefully lower it into boiling water for the time given in the recipe.

Steam blanching. Pour enough water into the blancher to cover the bottom, but not touch the insert. Heat to boiling. Arrange the prepared vegetables in a single layer in the blancher's insert; put them in the blancher over boiling water, cover tightly, and steam for the time given in the recipe. You can use any large pot or kettle for steam blanching by putting a rack about three inches above the bottom to hold the vegetables in the steam and up out of the boiling water. You may also wish to put the vegetables in a cheesecloth bag to keep the pieces together during blanching.

Chilling

You must always chill blanched vegetables before drying them, to be certain the cooking process has stopped. After removing the vegetables from the blancher, immerse the colander or steamer rack full of vegetables in a sink full of ice water or a dishpan full of ice water. The vegetables should be chilled for the same amount of time the recipe gives for blanching in boiling water. Drain well, then blot with paper towels.

Preparing to dry

Spread the blanched and drained vegetable pieces in a single, even layer on the drying tray. (You can dry more than one vegetable at the same time, but strong-smelling vegetables such as onions, cabbage, and carrots should be dried separately.) Put the trays in the oven or electric dryer, leaving at least one to two inches between the trays for air circulation.

Maintaining proper drying temperature

Vegetables must be dried at low, even temperatures — just enough heat to dry the pieces without cooking them. The proper temperature for drying in a conventional oven is 140°F, 1S0°F for convection ovens. Follow the manufacturer's directions for microwave ovens and all other appliances. Maintaining the right temperature steadily, with some air circulation, is the trick to successful drying. Electric dryers and dehydrators automatically maintain the right temperature. For oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, check your oven thermometer every half hour. (To insure even drying, you must also stir the
vegetables every 30 minutes or so, shift the trays from top to bottom, and rotate the trays from front to back.)

Although rapid drying is important, too rapid drying in an oven will result in the outer surface of the food hardening before the moisture inside has evaporated (case hardening). You can prevent case hardening by keeping a constant watch on the oven temperature and doing whatever is needed to maintain the heat at 140°F.

Scorching. Each vegetable has its own critical temperature beyond which a scorched taste will develop. Although there's not much danger of scorching at the start of the drying process, vegetables can scorch easily during the last couple of hours. Even slight scorching will ruin the flavor and affect the nutritive value of dried foods, so be extravigilant about maintaining the proper temperature toward the end of the drying process.

Ventilation. When vegetables are drying, the moisture they contain escapes by evaporating into the surrounding air. If the air around the food is trapped, it will quickly reach a saturation point. Trapped, saturated air won't be able to hold any additional moisture — and drying won't take place. For this reason, ventilation in and around your oven is as important as keeping the temperature constant.

Electric dryers or dehydrators automatically provide proper ventilation. With oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, you'll need to leave the oven door slightly ajar — and possibly use an electric fan to insure good air circulation.

In addition, the cookie sheets or trays you use for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven so air can circulate around the front, sides, and back of the trays. There should also be at least three inches of air space at the top of the oven.

Testing for doneness

In most forms of food preserving, processing times are exact. You know just how long it takes before the food is done. However, the times for drying vary considerably — from four hours to more than 12 — depending on the kind of vegetable, how thinly it's sliced, how much food is on each tray, and how much is being dried in the oven or dryer at one time. The recipes that follow give you the drying time range for each vegetable, but the only way you can be sure the food is sufficiently dry is to test sample pieces. 
 
When you think the vegetables are dry, remove a few pieces from the tray, then return the tray to the oven. Let the sample pieces cool before testing — even food that's perfectly dry will feel soft and
moist while still warm. When the pieces are cool, follow the test for doneness given for the vegetable in each recipe. A rule of thumb is that properly dried vegetables are hard and brittle to the touch. Exceptions to the rule are mushrooms, sweet peppers, and squash, which will feel pliable and leathery when dry. Some food experts recommend the hammer test: if sufficiently dry, the vegetable pieces will shatter when struck with a hammer.

Conditioning

Foods don't always dry evenly, nor does each piece or slice dry at exactly the same rate as all the others. To be sure all the food in a single batch is evenly dried, you'll have to condition it. Put the cooled, dried vegetables into a large, deep crock, dishpan, jar, or coffee can; then store it in a warm, dry room for a week to 10 days. Cover the jar or can lightly with cheesecloth to keep out insects, and stir the dried pieces at least once a day so that the moisture from any underdried pieces will be absorbed by the overdried pieces.

After conditioning, give the vegetables one final treatment to get rid of any insects or insect eggs. Either put the dried vegetables in the freezer for a few hours, or heat them on a cookie sheet in a closed oven at 175°F for 15 minutes. Be sure to let the food cool completely again before packaging.

HOW TO STORE DRIED VEGETABLES

Keeping out air and moisture is the secret to good dried foods. To maintain the quality and safety of your dried vegetables, you'll need to take special care when packaging and storing them.

Even when you're using an oven or an electric dehydrator, you'll have to watch out for the effects of humidity on drying foods. Choose a bright, sunny day for your home drying—that way you'll keep the dried vegetables from picking up moisture from the surrounding air after they leave the oven or dryer.

Packaging

Dried foods are vulnerable to contamination by insects as soon as they're removed from the oven or electric dryer. To protect them, you must package dried vegetables in airtight, moisture/vaporproof containers just as soon as they're completely dry. Canning jars that have been rinsed out with boiling water and dried, of course, make good containers, as do coffee cans and plastic freezer bags. When using a coffee can, first wrap the vegetable pieces in a plastic bag to keep the metal of the can from affecting the flavor of the food.

Pint-size containers or small plastic bags are best for packaging dried vegetables. Try to pack the food tightly but without crushing it. If you're using
plastic bags, force out as much air as possible before closing them. By using small bags, several may be packed into a larger jar or coffee can — that way you can use small portions as needed, without exposing the whole container to possible contamination each time it's opened.

Storing foods safely

Store your packaged, dried vegetables in a cool, dark, dry place. The cooler the temperature of the storage area, the longer foods will retain their high quality. However, dried foods can't be stored indefinitely, since they do lose vitamins, flavor, color, and aroma during storage. Your pantry or kitchen cupboards may provide good storage, if the area remains cool. A dry basement can also be a good spot. Dried vegetables can be stored in the freezer, too — but why take up valuable freezer space with foods that will keep at cool, room temperature?

Many dried vegetables will keep up to 12 months. If properly stored. Carrots, onions, and cabbage will spoil more quickly, so use them up within six months.

To be on the safe side, check the packages of dried vegetables from time to time. If you find mold, the food is no longer safe and should be discarded immediately. If you find a little moisture, but no spoilage, heat the dried vegetables for 15 minutes
in a 175°F oven; then cool and repackage. If you find much moisture, the vegetables must be put through the entire drying process again. Remember, you must always cool dried foods thoroughly before packaging; if packaged while still warm, they'll sweat and may mold.

HOW TO USE DRIED VEGETABLES

To use dried vegetables, you have to reverse the drying or dehydration process to rehydrate them. This is accomplished in water or other liquid. If you soak dried vegetables before using them, they'll cook much faster. To rehydrate, add two cups of water for each cup of dried vegetables; boiling water will shorten the soaking time. After soaking, the vegetables should regain nearly the same size as when fresh. 
 
Rehydrated vegetables are best used in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and other combination dishes. See the recipes that follow for some serving suggestions. 
271
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I need some tomato factories

Buyer Quotesokra posted the article • 0 comments • 271 views • 2017-10-01 20:25 • came from similar tags

I need some tomato factories
Phone:+8618709920515
I need some tomato factories
Phone:+8618709920515
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how I typically espalier single tomato plants that have self-seeded in the garden by making a simple mini trellis from reo mesh and a star picket.

ExperienceSelf Sufficient Me posted the article • 0 comments • 247 views • 2017-09-27 16:14 • came from similar tags

 

 
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today I'm like from self-sufficient me and I'm in the garden here I was just working on this mini tomato trellis and I thought you know what what I'd do some filming you guys might be interested in what I'm doing here and yeah let's just get right on into it a month ago or so there was this seedling that just popped up out of nowhere tomato seedling this is it here it's grown into quite a nice sizable tomato bush it looks like it's some type of larger variety what I need to do is trellis it up it's only one plant and I thought I'd show you how easy it is to knock up one of these many espalier tomato trellises just out of Rio mesh and a simple star picket the end of the day it's pretty easy yeah yeah whack the star pick it into the ground so it's you know fairly sold maybe a better foot down so it won't fall over too easy and I've got these smaller pieces of mesh just for individual plants like this just cut out and I've folded the sides over so that they're you know that I poked anyone's eye out when they're sort of getting in the garden it's only about a meter wide three feet or less than that and about the same square high well I like about this rear mesh is it's strong it lasts forever this is probably 10 years old this piece or more on the top of these stuff it gets you know how you have a slot from where normal wire goes when you're doing fencing well the Rio bar or the Rio mesh just fits nicely into that and if you line up the star picket with the center of the mesh just use a couple of zip ties or a piece of wire if you want but zip ties are nice and easy to get on and off you zip it together at the top together at the bottom through these holes here in the star picket and it becomes quite ace secure and fast way to set up a mini trellis so what I've got to do now is just pick this tomato plant up and attach it to the trellis so that it can grow and espalier out and of course if you leave it just flop into the garden like this it's just the fruits going to right because it's going to touch the green and slugs and snails will be able to get to the fruit easier so it's best off picking a plant up like this and obviously growing it up something as with most tomato plants use some of this twine that I've got here just blue gardening twine it degrades in the Sun after a while and I will tie the plant up to this and we'll see how we go so this is the main central leader and I'll try to centralize that main leader up the strongest part here so that the weight is distributed in the middle so you basically want to tie a knot that doesn't slip so a non-slip granny knot so that it doesn't shake the bottom of the stem off and we'll just start wrapping that through and twisting it around the main leader stem careful that I don't burn the plant or cut through it going in between the laterals the laterals will help support the twine as well though that what twine doesn't slide up it's bending over because of the position it's in he doesn't know which way to gray because it wasn't being supported in in any way at all the way it was so this will help straighten that leader stem up as well there we go now I can easily pull that up see right up to the top here go around and cut off any diseased leaves I can see and now I've got that secondary that I can that's all so you can see starting to curl around because it was going nowhere it was just sort of spiraling in the bed here it's still gonna grow out that way so I'll keep it sort of going on that trajectory another one on the other side here got some good fruit there what I'll do is I'll trim that it looks a bit bushy and train that up this side see even the kookaburras are happy and then pull that up and that'll train up to that and that's pretty much it nice and short keep it simple that plant there was myself cedar came out of nowhere I don't know how it got to that part of the garden but I'm glad I kept it because I'm interested to see how this fruit turns out looks like it's going to be a really nice variety and this is the right time for tomatoes now coming into our spring although we can grow them through winter and I do but they don't grow as well as this warmer time of the year is you're coming into spring before summer hits so I'm keen to see how this one works out I think it's going to be a good plant yeah thanks a lot for watching hope you enjoyed the video if you did give it a thumbs up go to self-sufficient muqaam subscribe obviously if you haven't already bye for now
 
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today I'm like from self-sufficient me and I'm in the garden here I was just working on this mini tomato trellis and I thought you know what what I'd do some filming you guys might be interested in what I'm doing here and yeah let's just get right on into it a month ago or so there was this seedling that just popped up out of nowhere tomato seedling this is it here it's grown into quite a nice sizable tomato bush it looks like it's some type of larger variety what I need to do is trellis it up it's only one plant and I thought I'd show you how easy it is to knock up one of these many espalier tomato trellises just out of Rio mesh and a simple star picket the end of the day it's pretty easy yeah yeah whack the star pick it into the ground so it's you know fairly sold maybe a better foot down so it won't fall over too easy and I've got these smaller pieces of mesh just for individual plants like this just cut out and I've folded the sides over so that they're you know that I poked anyone's eye out when they're sort of getting in the garden it's only about a meter wide three feet or less than that and about the same square high well I like about this rear mesh is it's strong it lasts forever this is probably 10 years old this piece or more on the top of these stuff it gets you know how you have a slot from where normal wire goes when you're doing fencing well the Rio bar or the Rio mesh just fits nicely into that and if you line up the star picket with the center of the mesh just use a couple of zip ties or a piece of wire if you want but zip ties are nice and easy to get on and off you zip it together at the top together at the bottom through these holes here in the star picket and it becomes quite ace secure and fast way to set up a mini trellis so what I've got to do now is just pick this tomato plant up and attach it to the trellis so that it can grow and espalier out and of course if you leave it just flop into the garden like this it's just the fruits going to right because it's going to touch the green and slugs and snails will be able to get to the fruit easier so it's best off picking a plant up like this and obviously growing it up something as with most tomato plants use some of this twine that I've got here just blue gardening twine it degrades in the Sun after a while and I will tie the plant up to this and we'll see how we go so this is the main central leader and I'll try to centralize that main leader up the strongest part here so that the weight is distributed in the middle so you basically want to tie a knot that doesn't slip so a non-slip granny knot so that it doesn't shake the bottom of the stem off and we'll just start wrapping that through and twisting it around the main leader stem careful that I don't burn the plant or cut through it going in between the laterals the laterals will help support the twine as well though that what twine doesn't slide up it's bending over because of the position it's in he doesn't know which way to gray because it wasn't being supported in in any way at all the way it was so this will help straighten that leader stem up as well there we go now I can easily pull that up see right up to the top here go around and cut off any diseased leaves I can see and now I've got that secondary that I can that's all so you can see starting to curl around because it was going nowhere it was just sort of spiraling in the bed here it's still gonna grow out that way so I'll keep it sort of going on that trajectory another one on the other side here got some good fruit there what I'll do is I'll trim that it looks a bit bushy and train that up this side see even the kookaburras are happy and then pull that up and that'll train up to that and that's pretty much it nice and short keep it simple that plant there was myself cedar came out of nowhere I don't know how it got to that part of the garden but I'm glad I kept it because I'm interested to see how this fruit turns out looks like it's going to be a really nice variety and this is the right time for tomatoes now coming into our spring although we can grow them through winter and I do but they don't grow as well as this warmer time of the year is you're coming into spring before summer hits so I'm keen to see how this one works out I think it's going to be a good plant yeah thanks a lot for watching hope you enjoyed the video if you did give it a thumbs up go to self-sufficient muqaam subscribe obviously if you haven't already bye for now
 
 
139
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How To Grow Ton Of Mushrooms Even If You Have No Garden

ExperienceNatural Ways posted the article • 0 comments • 139 views • 2017-09-27 05:13 • came from similar tags

 

 
Mushrooms grow quickly compared to most fruits and vegetables, and don't take up precious space in your garden. Most hobbyists start out with oyster mushrooms because they are the easiest to grow. Mushrooms are a healthy addition to any diet, as they are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and contain high amounts of potassium and selenium Mushrooms are best grown indoors where the temperature and light conditions can be more readily managed. Things You’ll Need to grow your own oyster mushrooms are: • Straw (Wheat Straw Works Best) • Robust plastic bags, medium or large size • Oyster mushroom spawn (which you can get online or You may need to find your local supplier) • Spray bottle and water Method. Before you begin, wash your hands and clean all your surfaces well. It’s very important to be hygienic when cultivating mushrooms, as you do not want to grow the wrong types of fungi. Once you’ve got all the materials, the first thing you need to do is pasteurize the straw. this essentially means heating the straw in water to around 70-75 degrees Celsius and holding it at that temperature for around 45-60 minutes. Pasteurization kills the bacteria. Before you put the straw in the pot, cut up into small pieces, around 1 to 3 inches in length. Once you’ve pasteurized the straw, take it out of the heating pot with tongs and let it sit in a clean tub while it cools down. It’s important you don’t put the mushroom spawn into the straw until the straw is at room temperature otherwise you will kill the spawn. When the straw has cooled down, pack your robust plastic bags with straw quite tightly, and then distribute some of the mushroom spawn throughout the straw. put about three or four pieces of spawn-covered dowel in each bag. The straw should not be dripping wet, but it should still be damp from the pasteurization. At this stage, sterilize a skewer or a nail by pouring boiling water over it and jab holes in the bags every 3 inches or so. This lets some air in, but not too much. The mouth of the bag should be closed with rubber-band or tread. You now have to find a home for you mushrooms. Keep them out of direct sunlight. They like some indirect light and grows best at around 15-20 degrees Celsius. Now you wait while the mushroom spawn develops into mycelium and begins taking over the entire bag. Mycelium looks a bit like white furry cobwebs, and you should start seeing it develop in the first couple of weeks. It’s important that your bags of straw stay moist, but not dripping wet. spray some water if required. About 4 weeks later the mycelium should have spread across the entire bag of straw and your mushrooms should start forming. cut some slightly larger holes in the bag if necessary. The mushrooms will decide that they want to grow out of one or more of the holes you’ve created, and they’ll usually grow in one or two clusters. Now comes the fun part. The mushrooms essentially double in size every day, so within a week or so you should have good-sized oyster mushrooms. Mist them with water two or three times a day over this period – again, not so they are dripping, just so they are moist. The mushrooms should be harvested while their rims are still curled over a little and pointing downwards. If their rims seem to be turning upward, it’s probably time to harvest. To harvest the mushrooms give them a twist at the base. This ensures that you leave the very bottom of the mushroom still in the bag. You want to leave that part behind as it is needed for the subsequent flushes of mushrooms. If you keep the mushrooms moist and in suitable conditions, you should get three or four flushes of mushrooms, When your bags stop producing, the straw can be used as mulch for the garden. Alternatively, you can distribute some of your straw into new bags of fresh straw and the growing process begins again. If there are any mushroom experts out there, be sure to share your advice in the comments below.
 
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Mushrooms grow quickly compared to most fruits and vegetables, and don't take up precious space in your garden. Most hobbyists start out with oyster mushrooms because they are the easiest to grow. Mushrooms are a healthy addition to any diet, as they are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and contain high amounts of potassium and selenium Mushrooms are best grown indoors where the temperature and light conditions can be more readily managed. Things You’ll Need to grow your own oyster mushrooms are: • Straw (Wheat Straw Works Best) • Robust plastic bags, medium or large size • Oyster mushroom spawn (which you can get online or You may need to find your local supplier) • Spray bottle and water Method. Before you begin, wash your hands and clean all your surfaces well. It’s very important to be hygienic when cultivating mushrooms, as you do not want to grow the wrong types of fungi. Once you’ve got all the materials, the first thing you need to do is pasteurize the straw. this essentially means heating the straw in water to around 70-75 degrees Celsius and holding it at that temperature for around 45-60 minutes. Pasteurization kills the bacteria. Before you put the straw in the pot, cut up into small pieces, around 1 to 3 inches in length. Once you’ve pasteurized the straw, take it out of the heating pot with tongs and let it sit in a clean tub while it cools down. It’s important you don’t put the mushroom spawn into the straw until the straw is at room temperature otherwise you will kill the spawn. When the straw has cooled down, pack your robust plastic bags with straw quite tightly, and then distribute some of the mushroom spawn throughout the straw. put about three or four pieces of spawn-covered dowel in each bag. The straw should not be dripping wet, but it should still be damp from the pasteurization. At this stage, sterilize a skewer or a nail by pouring boiling water over it and jab holes in the bags every 3 inches or so. This lets some air in, but not too much. The mouth of the bag should be closed with rubber-band or tread. You now have to find a home for you mushrooms. Keep them out of direct sunlight. They like some indirect light and grows best at around 15-20 degrees Celsius. Now you wait while the mushroom spawn develops into mycelium and begins taking over the entire bag. Mycelium looks a bit like white furry cobwebs, and you should start seeing it develop in the first couple of weeks. It’s important that your bags of straw stay moist, but not dripping wet. spray some water if required. About 4 weeks later the mycelium should have spread across the entire bag of straw and your mushrooms should start forming. cut some slightly larger holes in the bag if necessary. The mushrooms will decide that they want to grow out of one or more of the holes you’ve created, and they’ll usually grow in one or two clusters. Now comes the fun part. The mushrooms essentially double in size every day, so within a week or so you should have good-sized oyster mushrooms. Mist them with water two or three times a day over this period – again, not so they are dripping, just so they are moist. The mushrooms should be harvested while their rims are still curled over a little and pointing downwards. If their rims seem to be turning upward, it’s probably time to harvest. To harvest the mushrooms give them a twist at the base. This ensures that you leave the very bottom of the mushroom still in the bag. You want to leave that part behind as it is needed for the subsequent flushes of mushrooms. If you keep the mushrooms moist and in suitable conditions, you should get three or four flushes of mushrooms, When your bags stop producing, the straw can be used as mulch for the garden. Alternatively, you can distribute some of your straw into new bags of fresh straw and the growing process begins again. If there are any mushroom experts out there, be sure to share your advice in the comments below.
 
 
351
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In U.S,Can the locals buy fresh vegetables only in rural or small towns?

Questionswinlaw replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 351 views • 2017-09-11 20:14 • came from similar tags

300
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What are the common vegetables in German supermarkets?

QuestionsIsidore replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 300 views • 2017-08-26 07:13 • came from similar tags

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Who can introduce the potato varieties and the base planting details of McDonald's and KFC?

Reply

QuestionsKakarot posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 352 views • 2017-08-13 15:43 • came from similar tags

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How to cultivate artificial potatoes and how to grow potatoes in tropical area?

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QuestionsKakarot posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 328 views • 2017-08-13 15:43 • came from similar tags

334
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Recently ,I have some fresh mushrooms need to export to US.Do I need some essential qualiafications

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QuestionsJohan posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 334 views • 2017-07-18 19:15 • came from similar tags

359
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How to grow fennel from Seeds

ExperienceVern posted the article • 0 comments • 359 views • 2017-06-11 09:54 • came from similar tags

Description

Florence fennel or finocchio is the same as the common or sweet fennel that is grown for use as a herb. The leaves and seeds of both are used the same way for seasoning, but Florence fennel is grown primarily for its bulbous base and leaf stalks, which are used as vegetables. Florence fennel is a member of the parsley family. It's a stocky perennial grown as an annual, and looks rather like celery with very feathery leaves. The plant grows four to five feet tall and has small, golden flowers, which appear in flat-topped clusters from July to September. The whole plant has an anise flavor. 
 
Where and when to grow

Fennel will grow anywhere in the United States. It tolerates both heat and cold, but should mature in cold weather. Grow it from seed sown two to three weeks before your average date of last frost.

How to plant
 
The type of fennel you choose to grow will depend on what part of the fennel plant you wish to use -- the bulb, the fronds or the seeds.Florence Fennel is grown for its bulbous stem, which can be eaten raw, grilled or baked. It is also possible to eat the thicker stalks which sprout from the bulb, as they are similar to celery.Herb fennel does not produce the same bulbous stem. It is grown for its delicate leaves, which are used as a herb. Herb fennel also produces seeds which have a licorice-like flavor (as does the rest of the plant) and are used for seasoning.

Fennel needs well-drained soil that's high in organic matter. When you're preparing the soil for planting, work in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet.Plant the seeds a quarter of an inch deep, in rows two to three feet apart, in full sun. When the seedlings are growing strongly, thin them to stand 12 inches apart.

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden.Keep fennel on the dry side.Water plants especially during dry spells, keeping the soil permanently moist. Watering will also help to prevent bolting. Weed often, and cover the stems with soil as they grow to blanch and make them sweeter.

Special handling

Fennel plants grow four to five feet tall; you may need to stake them if they are becoming unwieldy. It's not often necessary, so don't bother to set stakes at the time of planting. Fennel grows best in full-sun or partial shade and should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist. Be careful not to overwater though, as this may cause the roots to rot. There is no need to fertilize the soil during growing season.Once the bulb begins to form at the base of the stem, hill up the surrounding soil to cover it. This shades it from the sun and prevents it from turning green. This is known as "blanching", as it keeps the bulb white and sweet (which is only necessary if you intend to eat the bulb).Fennel is not usually affected by pests or disease, but occasionally you will spot aphids or whiteflies on the leaves. If so, you can use a pyrethrin-based insecticidal soap to get rid of them.

Pests

Since fennel is a member of the parsley family, the parsley caterpillar may appear. Remove
it by hand. It has no other serious pest problems, so fennel is a good bet for the organic gardener.

Diseases

Fennel has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

You can start harvesting a few sprigs as soon as the plant is well- established and growing steadily; use them for flavoring. Harvest the bulbous stalk when it is three inches or more in diameter; cut the whole stalk like celery, just below the point where the individual stalks join together.Don't take too many leaves at once though, or you might harm the plant.The fennel leaves can be used to add an aromatic, anise flavor to soups, salads and other Mediterranean-style diets.Instead of harvesting fennel by pulling it straight from the ground, cut the swollen stems off just above ground level with a sharp knife. Unless you need the space for other crops, leave the roots in the ground to regrow and produce a second crop of leaves.

Storing and preserving

Fennel leaves can be frozen or dried as herbs; crumble the dried leaves and store them in an airtight container. You'll probably want to eat the stalks fresh; store them in the refrigerator up to one week or in a cold, moist place for two to three months. The stalks can also be frozen or dried; handle them like celery.

Serving suggestions

Fennel is featured in many Italian dishes. The leaves add flavor to soups and casseroles, and fennel goes well with fish. You can prepare Florence fennel in many ways as you do celery. Cut the fennel stalks into slices, simmer them in water or stock until tender, and serve buttered. Bake slices of fennel with cheese and butter as an accompaniment to a roast, or eat the stalks raw as a dipping vegetable. French and Italian cooks have been using fennel for generations — hence the variety of names by which it's known. The French served grilled sea bass on a bed of flaming fennel stalks, and the dried stalks can be used for barbecuing, too. 
 
Tips
Consider an exclusive patch for your fennel as it is known to impede the growth of other plants.Fennel plants can be started from cuttings. Once a plant matures, the roots can be snipped and replanted.Be sure not to start your plants where any coriander, caraway or wormwood is growing as these will impede the fennel's growth.Fennel can be an integral part of an expectant or nursing mother's diet, as nutrients that are exclusive to this plant aid in milk production.Plant your fennel during the fall in warm climates, and during the spring in cooler places.Verify that your soil's pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0 as fennel grows best in less acidic soil.Fennel can grow up to five feet tall, which leaves the thin stems susceptible to breakage. Stake your fennel to support it against the wind.To thresh the seeds, slap the stalk against a hard surface.Creating your own compost will maintain the organic integrity of your plants, and is a wonderful way to benefit the environment.Mix any additives into the soil in advance, making certain that it has time to neutralize before planting season. view all
Description

Florence fennel or finocchio is the same as the common or sweet fennel that is grown for use as a herb. The leaves and seeds of both are used the same way for seasoning, but Florence fennel is grown primarily for its bulbous base and leaf stalks, which are used as vegetables. Florence fennel is a member of the parsley family. It's a stocky perennial grown as an annual, and looks rather like celery with very feathery leaves. The plant grows four to five feet tall and has small, golden flowers, which appear in flat-topped clusters from July to September. The whole plant has an anise flavor. 
 
Where and when to grow

Fennel will grow anywhere in the United States. It tolerates both heat and cold, but should mature in cold weather. Grow it from seed sown two to three weeks before your average date of last frost.

How to plant
 
The type of fennel you choose to grow will depend on what part of the fennel plant you wish to use -- the bulb, the fronds or the seeds.Florence Fennel is grown for its bulbous stem, which can be eaten raw, grilled or baked. It is also possible to eat the thicker stalks which sprout from the bulb, as they are similar to celery.Herb fennel does not produce the same bulbous stem. It is grown for its delicate leaves, which are used as a herb. Herb fennel also produces seeds which have a licorice-like flavor (as does the rest of the plant) and are used for seasoning.

Fennel needs well-drained soil that's high in organic matter. When you're preparing the soil for planting, work in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet.Plant the seeds a quarter of an inch deep, in rows two to three feet apart, in full sun. When the seedlings are growing strongly, thin them to stand 12 inches apart.

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden.Keep fennel on the dry side.Water plants especially during dry spells, keeping the soil permanently moist. Watering will also help to prevent bolting. Weed often, and cover the stems with soil as they grow to blanch and make them sweeter.

Special handling


Fennel plants grow four to five feet tall; you may need to stake them if they are becoming unwieldy. It's not often necessary, so don't bother to set stakes at the time of planting. Fennel grows best in full-sun or partial shade and should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist. Be careful not to overwater though, as this may cause the roots to rot. There is no need to fertilize the soil during growing season.Once the bulb begins to form at the base of the stem, hill up the surrounding soil to cover it. This shades it from the sun and prevents it from turning green. This is known as "blanching", as it keeps the bulb white and sweet (which is only necessary if you intend to eat the bulb).Fennel is not usually affected by pests or disease, but occasionally you will spot aphids or whiteflies on the leaves. If so, you can use a pyrethrin-based insecticidal soap to get rid of them.

Pests

Since fennel is a member of the parsley family, the parsley caterpillar may appear. Remove
it by hand. It has no other serious pest problems, so fennel is a good bet for the organic gardener.

Diseases

Fennel has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

You can start harvesting a few sprigs as soon as the plant is well- established and growing steadily; use them for flavoring. Harvest the bulbous stalk when it is three inches or more in diameter; cut the whole stalk like celery, just below the point where the individual stalks join together.Don't take too many leaves at once though, or you might harm the plant.The fennel leaves can be used to add an aromatic, anise flavor to soups, salads and other Mediterranean-style diets.Instead of harvesting fennel by pulling it straight from the ground, cut the swollen stems off just above ground level with a sharp knife. Unless you need the space for other crops, leave the roots in the ground to regrow and produce a second crop of leaves.

Storing and preserving

Fennel leaves can be frozen or dried as herbs; crumble the dried leaves and store them in an airtight container. You'll probably want to eat the stalks fresh; store them in the refrigerator up to one week or in a cold, moist place for two to three months. The stalks can also be frozen or dried; handle them like celery.

Serving suggestions

Fennel is featured in many Italian dishes. The leaves add flavor to soups and casseroles, and fennel goes well with fish. You can prepare Florence fennel in many ways as you do celery. Cut the fennel stalks into slices, simmer them in water or stock until tender, and serve buttered. Bake slices of fennel with cheese and butter as an accompaniment to a roast, or eat the stalks raw as a dipping vegetable. French and Italian cooks have been using fennel for generations — hence the variety of names by which it's known. The French served grilled sea bass on a bed of flaming fennel stalks, and the dried stalks can be used for barbecuing, too. 
 
Tips
  1. Consider an exclusive patch for your fennel as it is known to impede the growth of other plants.
  2. Fennel plants can be started from cuttings. Once a plant matures, the roots can be snipped and replanted.
  3. Be sure not to start your plants where any coriander, caraway or wormwood is growing as these will impede the fennel's growth.
  4. Fennel can be an integral part of an expectant or nursing mother's diet, as nutrients that are exclusive to this plant aid in milk production.
  5. Plant your fennel during the fall in warm climates, and during the spring in cooler places.
  6. Verify that your soil's pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0 as fennel grows best in less acidic soil.
  7. Fennel can grow up to five feet tall, which leaves the thin stems susceptible to breakage. Stake your fennel to support it against the wind.
  8. To thresh the seeds, slap the stalk against a hard surface.
  9. Creating your own compost will maintain the organic integrity of your plants, and is a wonderful way to benefit the environment.
  10. Mix any additives into the soil in advance, making certain that it has time to neutralize before planting season.

249
Views

You can follow this tutorial to grow endive in your garden

ExperienceIwan Wijono posted the article • 0 comments • 249 views • 2017-06-11 09:28 • came from similar tags

Description

Endive is a half-hardy biennial grown as an annual, and it has a large rosette of toothed curled or wavy leaves that are used in salads as a substitute for lettuce. Endive is often known as escarole, and they're varieties of the same plant; escarole has broader leaves. Endive should not be confused with Belgian endive, which is the young blanched sprout of the chicory plant. Both endive and chicory, however, belong to the genus Cichorium.

Where and when to grow

Like lettuce, endive is a cool- season crop, although it's more tolerant of heat than lettuce. Grow it from seed planted in your garden four to six weeks before your average date of last frost. Long, hot summer days will force the plants to bolt and go to seed. If your area has a short,hot growing season, start endive from seed indoors and transplant it as soon as possible so that the plants will mature before the weather gets really hot. Sow succession crops, beginning in midsummer. In a mild-winter climate, you can grow spring, fall, and winter crops.

Sow

Although the minimum soil temperature for germination is 15°C (59°F), endive germinates best at 20-22°C (68-72°F).Sow early crops under glass in pots and modules, and transplant. Plants tend to bolt if temperatures fall below 5C (41°F) for too long, but bolt-resistant cultivars are often successful for early sowings. Sow thinly from April to August, 1cm (½in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart, thinning to 23-38cm (9-13in) apart within the rows.Sow from mid to late August for winter crops, transplant and grow in glasshouse or use cloches from October- November.Sow from February to October for ‘cut and come again’ seedlings, if the soil is warm enough, or under glass or horticultural fleece, sowing every three weeks. Sow ‘cut and come again’ crops in broad drills or containers.


How to plant

Endive needs well-worked soil with good drainage and moisture retention. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If you're using transplants, start them from seed eight to 10 weeks before the average date of last frost in your area. If you're direct-seeding endive in the garden, sow seeds a quarter inch deep in wide rows 18 to 24 inches apart, and when the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them to nine to 12 inches apart. Thinning is important because the plants may bolt if they're crowded. Plant transplants nine to 12 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. 

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti. Water regularly to keep the plants growing quickly; lack of water will slow growth and cause the leaves to become bitter. 
 
Special handling

Endive tastes better in salads if you blanch it to remove some of the bitter flavor. Blanching deprives the plants of sunlight and 
discourages the production of chlorophyll. Blanch two to three weeks before you're ready to harvest the plants. You can do this in several ways: Tie string around the leaves to hold them together; lay a board on supports over the row; or put a flowerpot over each plant. If you tie the endive plants, do it when they're dry; the inner leaves may rot if the plants are tied up while the insides are wet.
 
 Pests

Cutworms, slugs, and snails can be troublesome. You may also have to deal with aphids. Put a collar around each plant to discourage cutworms, and trap slugs and snails with a saucer of stale beer set flush to the soil. To control aphids, pinch out infested foilage, or hose the aphids off the plants. You can also spray them with Malathion or Diazinon, taking care to spray the undersides of the leaves. 
 
Diseases

Endive has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 90 to 100 days from seed. To harvest, cut off the plant at soil level.

Storing and preserving

Like lettuce, endive can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but you can't freeze, can, or dry it. Share your harvest with friends. 
 
Serving suggestions

Chill endive and serve it with an oil-and-vinegar dressing; add chunks of blue cheese or croutons. Mix it with other salad greens to add a distinctive flavor. The French use endive in a salad with heated slices of mild sausage, diced bacon, and croutons.  view all
Description

Endive is a half-hardy biennial grown as an annual, and it has a large rosette of toothed curled or wavy leaves that are used in salads as a substitute for lettuce. Endive is often known as escarole, and they're varieties of the same plant; escarole has broader leaves. Endive should not be confused with Belgian endive, which is the young blanched sprout of the chicory plant. Both endive and chicory, however, belong to the genus Cichorium.

Where and when to grow

Like lettuce, endive is a cool- season crop, although it's more tolerant of heat than lettuce. Grow it from seed planted in your garden four to six weeks before your average date of last frost. Long, hot summer days will force the plants to bolt and go to seed. If your area has a short,hot growing season, start endive from seed indoors and transplant it as soon as possible so that the plants will mature before the weather gets really hot. Sow succession crops, beginning in midsummer. In a mild-winter climate, you can grow spring, fall, and winter crops.

Sow

Although the minimum soil temperature for germination is 15°C (59°F), endive germinates best at 20-22°C (68-72°F).Sow early crops under glass in pots and modules, and transplant. Plants tend to bolt if temperatures fall below 5C (41°F) for too long, but bolt-resistant cultivars are often successful for early sowings. Sow thinly from April to August, 1cm (½in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart, thinning to 23-38cm (9-13in) apart within the rows.Sow from mid to late August for winter crops, transplant and grow in glasshouse or use cloches from October- November.Sow from February to October for ‘cut and come again’ seedlings, if the soil is warm enough, or under glass or horticultural fleece, sowing every three weeks. Sow ‘cut and come again’ crops in broad drills or containers.


How to plant

Endive needs well-worked soil with good drainage and moisture retention. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If you're using transplants, start them from seed eight to 10 weeks before the average date of last frost in your area. If you're direct-seeding endive in the garden, sow seeds a quarter inch deep in wide rows 18 to 24 inches apart, and when the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them to nine to 12 inches apart. Thinning is important because the plants may bolt if they're crowded. Plant transplants nine to 12 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. 

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti. Water regularly to keep the plants growing quickly; lack of water will slow growth and cause the leaves to become bitter. 
 
Special handling

Endive tastes better in salads if you blanch it to remove some of the bitter flavor. Blanching deprives the plants of sunlight and 
discourages the production of chlorophyll. Blanch two to three weeks before you're ready to harvest the plants. You can do this in several ways: Tie string around the leaves to hold them together; lay a board on supports over the row; or put a flowerpot over each plant. If you tie the endive plants, do it when they're dry; the inner leaves may rot if the plants are tied up while the insides are wet.
 
 Pests

Cutworms, slugs, and snails can be troublesome. You may also have to deal with aphids. Put a collar around each plant to discourage cutworms, and trap slugs and snails with a saucer of stale beer set flush to the soil. To control aphids, pinch out infested foilage, or hose the aphids off the plants. You can also spray them with Malathion or Diazinon, taking care to spray the undersides of the leaves. 
 
Diseases

Endive has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 90 to 100 days from seed. To harvest, cut off the plant at soil level.

Storing and preserving

Like lettuce, endive can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but you can't freeze, can, or dry it. Share your harvest with friends. 
 
Serving suggestions

Chill endive and serve it with an oil-and-vinegar dressing; add chunks of blue cheese or croutons. Mix it with other salad greens to add a distinctive flavor. The French use endive in a salad with heated slices of mild sausage, diced bacon, and croutons. 
294
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My gardening skills on how to plant eggplant

ExperienceIwan Wijono posted the article • 0 comments • 294 views • 2017-06-11 09:09 • came from similar tags

Description

Eggplant is a very tender perennial plant with large grayish- green hairy leaves. The star- shaped flowers are lavender with yellow centers, and the long, slender or round, egg-shaped fruit is creamy-white, yellow, brown, purple, or sometimes almost black. Eggplants will grow two to six feet tall, depending on the variety. They belong to the solanaceous family, and are related to tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, and were first cultivated in India.

Where and when to grow

Eggplant is very sensitive to cold and needs a growing season with day temperatures between 80° and 90°F and night temperatures between 70° and 80°F. Don't plant eggplant seedlings until two to three weeks after your average date of last frost, or when daytime temperatures reach 70°F.

How to plant

You can grow eggplant from seed, but you'll wait 150 days for a harvest. It's easier to grow from transplants, started inside about two months before your outside planting date. Don't put your transplants into the garden until two or three weeks after the average date of last frost for your area — eggplants won't be rushed, and if you plant them too early they won't develop. Eggplants must have full sun. They'll grow in almost any soil, but they do better in rich soil that is high in organic matter, with excellent drainage. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Set the plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. 

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.Eggplants are very fussy about temperature and moisture and must be treated with solicitude until they're well established. Try to maintain even soil moisture to ensure even growth; eggplants are susceptible to root rot if there's too much moisture in the soil. 
 
Special handling

If you live in an area where an unpredictable late frost may occur, provide protection at night until all danger of frost is past. In hot climates the soil temperature may become too warm for the roots; in this case, mulch the plants about a month after you set them outside. Plants that are heavy with fruit may need to be staked.

Pests

Eggplants are almost always attacked by one pest or another, so they're not the ideal crop for the organic gardener. The pests you're most likely to encounter are cutworms, aphids, flea beetles, Colorado potato bugs, spider mites, and tomato hornworms.
Hand-pick hornworms off the plants; control aphids and beetles by hand-picking or hosing them off the plants and pinching out infested areas. Collars set around the plants at the time you transplant them will discourage cutworms. Spider mites are difficult to control even with the proper chemicals; spray the undersides of the foliage with Diazinon before the populations get too large. Detailed information on pest control is given in "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.  
 
Diseases

Fungus and bacterial diseases may attack eggplants. Planting disease-resistant varieties when possible and maintaining the general cleanliness and health of your garden will help lessen the incidence of disease. If a plant does become infected, remove it before it can spread disease to healthy plants. Protect the plants against soilborne diseases by rotating your crops and planting vegetables from a different plant family in the eggplants' spot the following season. 
 
When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 100 to 150 days from seed, 70 to 85 days from transplants. Harvest the fruit young, before the flesh becomes pithy. The fruit should be firm and shiny, not streaked with brown. The eggplant fruit is on a sturdy stem that does not break easily from the plant; cut it off with a sharp knife instead of expecting it to fall into your hand. 


Storing and preserving

Whole eggplant will store up to one week at 50°F; don't refrigerate it. You can also freeze or dry it. 

Serving suggestions

Eggplant is very versatile and combines happily with all kinds of other foods — cheese,tomatoes, onions, and meats all lend distinction to its flavor. The French use it in a vegetable stew called ratatouille, with tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs. Ratatouille is a good hot side dish or can be served cold as a salad. Eggplant is also a key ingredient of the Greek moussaka, layered with ground meat and topped with a bechamel sauce. Or coat slices in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fry them. To remove excess moisture from eggplant slices before you cook them, salt them liberally,let them stand about half an hour, wash them, and pat them dry.Or weight the slices with a heavy plate to squeeze out the moisture.  view all
Description

Eggplant is a very tender perennial plant with large grayish- green hairy leaves. The star- shaped flowers are lavender with yellow centers, and the long, slender or round, egg-shaped fruit is creamy-white, yellow, brown, purple, or sometimes almost black. Eggplants will grow two to six feet tall, depending on the variety. They belong to the solanaceous family, and are related to tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, and were first cultivated in India.

Where and when to grow

Eggplant is very sensitive to cold and needs a growing season with day temperatures between 80° and 90°F and night temperatures between 70° and 80°F. Don't plant eggplant seedlings until two to three weeks after your average date of last frost, or when daytime temperatures reach 70°F.

How to plant

You can grow eggplant from seed, but you'll wait 150 days for a harvest. It's easier to grow from transplants, started inside about two months before your outside planting date. Don't put your transplants into the garden until two or three weeks after the average date of last frost for your area — eggplants won't be rushed, and if you plant them too early they won't develop. Eggplants must have full sun. They'll grow in almost any soil, but they do better in rich soil that is high in organic matter, with excellent drainage. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Set the plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. 

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.Eggplants are very fussy about temperature and moisture and must be treated with solicitude until they're well established. Try to maintain even soil moisture to ensure even growth; eggplants are susceptible to root rot if there's too much moisture in the soil. 
 
Special handling

If you live in an area where an unpredictable late frost may occur, provide protection at night until all danger of frost is past. In hot climates the soil temperature may become too warm for the roots; in this case, mulch the plants about a month after you set them outside. Plants that are heavy with fruit may need to be staked.

Pests

Eggplants are almost always attacked by one pest or another, so they're not the ideal crop for the organic gardener. The pests you're most likely to encounter are cutworms, aphids, flea beetles, Colorado potato bugs, spider mites, and tomato hornworms.
Hand-pick hornworms off the plants; control aphids and beetles by hand-picking or hosing them off the plants and pinching out infested areas. Collars set around the plants at the time you transplant them will discourage cutworms. Spider mites are difficult to control even with the proper chemicals; spray the undersides of the foliage with Diazinon before the populations get too large. Detailed information on pest control is given in "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.  
 
Diseases

Fungus and bacterial diseases may attack eggplants. Planting disease-resistant varieties when possible and maintaining the general cleanliness and health of your garden will help lessen the incidence of disease. If a plant does become infected, remove it before it can spread disease to healthy plants. Protect the plants against soilborne diseases by rotating your crops and planting vegetables from a different plant family in the eggplants' spot the following season. 
 
When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 100 to 150 days from seed, 70 to 85 days from transplants. Harvest the fruit young, before the flesh becomes pithy. The fruit should be firm and shiny, not streaked with brown. The eggplant fruit is on a sturdy stem that does not break easily from the plant; cut it off with a sharp knife instead of expecting it to fall into your hand. 


Storing and preserving

Whole eggplant will store up to one week at 50°F; don't refrigerate it. You can also freeze or dry it. 

Serving suggestions

Eggplant is very versatile and combines happily with all kinds of other foods — cheese,tomatoes, onions, and meats all lend distinction to its flavor. The French use it in a vegetable stew called ratatouille, with tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs. Ratatouille is a good hot side dish or can be served cold as a salad. Eggplant is also a key ingredient of the Greek moussaka, layered with ground meat and topped with a bechamel sauce. Or coat slices in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fry them. To remove excess moisture from eggplant slices before you cook them, salt them liberally,let them stand about half an hour, wash them, and pat them dry.Or weight the slices with a heavy plate to squeeze out the moisture. 
288
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How to store and preserve broad bean?

QuestionsBins replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 288 views • 2017-06-06 01:40 • came from similar tags

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when to grow artichoke? June is ok?

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How to plant artichoke in my garden?

QuestionsStefano Cuch replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 332 views • 2017-06-06 00:07 • came from similar tags

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Do we have someone try to grow some potato in your own backyard ?Can you share some experiences about that?

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QuestionsHeinz posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 431 views • 2017-04-25 05:32 • came from similar tags

366
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Is the potato the high-calorie food?

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QuestionsHeinz posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 366 views • 2017-04-25 05:32 • came from similar tags

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Do you have some pragmatic skills on how to increase the potato productivity?

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Questionswinlaw posted a question • 1 users followed • 0 replies • 366 views • 2017-04-24 18:01 • came from similar tags

534
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What is the biggest advantage of growing crops in a greenhouse?

Questionszkarasu replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 534 views • 2017-04-16 12:31 • came from similar tags

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In U.S,Can the locals buy fresh vegetables only in rural or small towns?

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Questionswinlaw replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 351 views • 2017-09-11 20:14 • came from similar tags

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What are the common vegetables in German supermarkets?

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QuestionsIsidore replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 300 views • 2017-08-26 07:13 • came from similar tags

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What is the biggest advantage of growing crops in a greenhouse?

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Questionszkarasu replied • 2 users followed • 1 replies • 534 views • 2017-04-16 12:31 • came from similar tags

15
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It's again that season when the fruit and vegetables are too many to eat, such a headache

VideosLiziqi posted the article • 0 comments • 15 views • 2019-09-17 09:52 • came from similar tags

 

 
 
Similar to last year, this year (we) also set up a pumpkin road. Those which have not had time to eat have grown into sweet and glutenous old pumpkins. Steamed pumpkin, pumpkin rice, salted egg yolk pumpkin, pumpkin milk ~ My grandmother can eat pumpkins three meals a day and won't be fed up. Matched it with Red bean and Coix seed flour to make a drink to get rid of the slightly wet and toxins from staying up late recently. view all
 


 
 
Similar to last year, this year (we) also set up a pumpkin road. Those which have not had time to eat have grown into sweet and glutenous old pumpkins. Steamed pumpkin, pumpkin rice, salted egg yolk pumpkin, pumpkin milk ~ My grandmother can eat pumpkins three meals a day and won't be fed up. Matched it with Red bean and Coix seed flour to make a drink to get rid of the slightly wet and toxins from staying up late recently.
194
Views

How to dry vegetables

ExperienceIsidore posted the article • 0 comments • 194 views • 2017-10-30 17:39 • came from similar tags

Drying is probably the oldest method of food preservation. Though canned and frozen foods have taken over the major role once played by dried foods, drying is still cheaper and easier by comparison. Some other advantages of dried foods are that they take up less storage space and will keep well for a long time — up to 12 months — if
prepared and stored properly. Unlike frozen foods, they are not dependent on a power source. Though you may find canned and frozen vegetables are closer in taste and appearance to fresh food, you'll like having a stock of dried vegetables on hand to add variety and special flavor to meals. 
 
STOPPING THE SPOILERS

Drying preserves vegetables by removing moisture, thus cutting off the water supply that would nourish food spoilers like bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The moisture content drops so low that spoilage organisms can't grow.
Although there's a definite technique to drying vegetables, it isn't quite as precise as the procedures used for freezing or canning. Unless you'll be using an electric food dryer, you'll have to use trial and error to find the best way to maintain the proper oven temperature throughout the drying process and to provide good ventilation so moisture from the food can escape. Drying times are given in the recipes for the individual vegetables, but these times are only approximate. Every oven is different, and drying times also depend on how many vegetables you're drying at once, how thinly they've been sliced, and how steady you've kept the heat. So you'll have to experiment at first with drying times. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to judging when your vegetables are dry enough to keep the spoilers from contaminating them.

Vegetables for drying

There are a great many vegetables you can dry at home for use in perking up your salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. Good vegetables to dry include green beans, corn, peas, peppers, okra, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and summer squash.
Herbs also drywell. For more information on drying herbs, see "How to Store and Use Herbs," later in this book.

Although many vegetables drywell, some vegetables should be preserved by other methods for best results. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes don't drywell because of their high moisture content. Asparagus and broccoli are better frozen
to retain their flavor and texture. And if you've got the storage space, you may find it more practical to
store fresh carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, and winter squash in cold storage where they'll keep for several months without any special preserving treatment.

FOOD DRYING METHODS

The sun, of course, Is the food dryer our ancestors used. If you live where Old Sol shines long, you too can dry fruits and vegetables outdoors. But those in less sunny regions will want a little help from a kitchen oven (gas, electric, convection, or microwave) or one of the new electric dryers or dehydrators. You can also make your own box dryer.

Oven drying is faster than using an electric dryer or dehydrator, but the electric dryers can handle much larger food loads than any of the ovens. Oven drying is best for small-scale preserving, since the ordinary kitchen model will hold no more than four to six pounds of food at one time. If you've got an extra-big vegetable garden and expect to dry food
in quantity, you may want to investigate the new electric dryers or dehydrators, available in some stores and through seed catalogs. Several of the small convection ovens now on the market also have special racks available for drying vegetables. When using an electric dryer, or a convection or microwave oven for drying vegetables, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Oven drying

Oven drying may be the easiest way for you to dry food, because it eliminates the need for special equipment. If you've never tried dried vegetables before, why not do up a small batch and sample the taste and texture?

Gas and electric ovens. Preheat your gas or electric oven to 140°F for drying vegetables; you'll need an oven thermometer that registers as low as 100°F in order to keep this temperature constant throughout the many hours of the drying process. Since ovens will vary, you'll probably have to experiment until you learn what works best with yours. For example, the pilot light on some gas stoves may provide just enough heat, or the light bulb in the oven may keep it warm enough for drying vegetables. Some electric ovens have a "low" or "warm" setting that may provide the right temperature for drying.
You must keep the oven door open slightly during drying, so moist air can escape. Use a rolled newspaper, wood block, hot pad, or other similar item to prop open the oven door about one inch for an electric oven and four to six inches for a gas oven. Sometimes it also helps to place an electric fan set on "low" in front of the oven door to keep air circulating. Don't use a fan for a gas oven with a pilot light, though; it can blow out the pilot.

You'll be able to read the oven thermometer easily if you put it in the middle of the top tray of vegetables, take a reading after the first 10 minutes, and, if necessary, make adjustments in the door opening or the temperature control. After^ that, check the oven temperature every 30 minutes during the drying process to be sure it remains constant at 140°F.

To keep air circulating around the food, your drying trays should be one to two inches smaller all around than the interior of your oven. If you want to add more trays, place blocks of wood at the corners of the oven racks and stack the trays at least one-and- a-half inches apart. You can dry up to four trays at once in a conventional oven, but remember that a big load takes longer to dry than a smaller one. Don't use the top position of the oven rack in an electric oven for drying, because food on the top tray will dry too quickly.

Since the temperature varies inside the oven, it's important to shift your vegetable drying trays every half-hour. Rotate the trays from front to back, and shift them from top to bottom. Numbering the trays will help you keep track of the rotation order. You'll also need to stir the vegetables every 30 minutes, to be sure the pieces are drying evenly.

Convection ovens. To dry vegetables in a convection oven, arrange them on the dehydrating racks provided, and place the racks in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 150°F for vegetables, 100°F for herbs. The air should feel warm, not hot. Keep an oven thermometer inside the oven, so you can keep track of the temperature. Prop the oven door open one to one-and-a-half inches to allow moisture to evaporate. Set the oven timer to the "stay o n " position. Or, if your oven doesn't have a "stay on" option, set it for maximum time possible, then reset It during drying, if necessary. Drying times in a convection oven are usually shorter, so check
foods for doneness at the lower range of times given in the recipes. Rotate the racks and stir the vegetables as you would using a conventional oven.

Microwave ovens. To dry foods in a microwave oven, follow the directions that come with your appliance. Usually, you arrange the prepared vegetables in a single, even layer on paper towels, cover them with more paper towels, and then dry the food at a reduced power setting. If you have a microwave roasting rack, arrange the vegetables on It before drying. Stir the vegetables and replace the paper towels with fresh ones periodically. Exact drying times can vary widely, depending on the wattage and efficiency of your oven, the food itself, and the humidity, so you'll need to check frequently and keep a record of best drying times for reference.

Food dryers

Both commercial and homemade food dryers provide automatically controlled heat and ventilation. You can buy the new electric dryers or dehydrators in many hardware, housewares, farm supply, and health food stores. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the size of the appliance and other special features. Or you can make your own drying box, following the directions given below.

Electric dryers or dehydrators. These are lightweight metal boxes with drawer racks for drying foods, which will hold up to 14 pounds of fresh vegetables. If you'll be doing a great deal of home drying, look into an electric dryer, because drying large quantities of vegetables could tie up your kitchen oven for days at a time. Although electric dryers use less electricity for drying than would an electric oven for the same amount of vegetables, electric dryers run at lower temperatures and drying times are a bit longer.

When using an electric dryer or dehydrator, always follow the manufacturer's directions for drying foods. 
 
Homemade drying box. A simple-to-make drying box can be constructed from a cardboard box, as in the instructions that follow. Or you may invent some other alternatives. For example, your radiators may send out enough heat to dry foods in winter, or perhaps your attic in the summer is hot and dry enough. Never use space heaters for drying vegetables, though — space heaters stir up dust and dirt, which contaminate the food.

How to make a drying box. A hardware or discount store should have everything you need to make this simple dryer: 
• Either a metal cookie sheet with sides or a jelly- roll pan is needed to hold the food.

• An empty cardboard box (that has the same top dimensions as the cookie sheet) forms the drying box. The sheet should just fit on top of the box, or the rims of the sides should rest on the edges of the open-topped box. 
• A box of heavy-duty or extra-wide aluminum foil is used to line the box.
• A small can of black paint is used to paint the bottom of the cookie sheet; buy a spray can or a small brush.
• A 60-watt light bulb and socket attached to a cord and plug provide the heat. 
 
Line the inside of the box with foil, shiny side up. Cut a tiny notch in one corner for the cord to run out. Set the light fixture in the center, resting it on a crumpled piece of foil. Paint the bottom of the cookie sheet black and let it dry.

Prepare the vegetables according to the recipe. Spread them in a single, even layer on the black- bottomed cookie sheet. Then put the sheet in place on top of the box. Plug in the light bulb to preheat the box and dry until the food is done according to the recipe. Each recipe specifies how to tell when food is sufficiently dry. If you're drying more than one

sheet of food you II have to make more than one drying box. Don't prepare more food than you can dry at one time.

BASIC DRYING EQUIPMENT

Unless you decide to buy an electric dryer or dehydrator, you've probably already got everything necessary for home drying vegetables. In addition to an oven or a box food dryer, you'll need:

• A scale to weigh food before and after drying. • An oven thermometer that will read as low as 100°F for maintaining proper oven temperature. • Sharp stainless steel knives that won't discolor the vegetables, for thin-slicing, paring, or cutting the food in half.

A cutting board for chopping and slicing. Be sure to scrub the board thoroughly before and after use.

Baking or cookie sheets for use as drying trays. Unless you're making a box food dryer, cookie sheets without raised edges are best, since they allow hot air to circulate around all sides of the vegetables. (For microwave or convection oven drying, you'll need a special rack.) Baking or cookie sheets used for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven, so air can circulate.

A blancher for pretreatment of most vegetables. Use a ready-made blancher; or make one using a deep pot with a cover, and a colander or gasket that will fit down inside the pot. For steam blanching, you'll need a rack or steamer basket.

A long, flexible spatula for stirring the vegetable pieces to insure even drying.
Airtight storage containers, with tight-fitting lids, that are also molsture/vaporproof. Use glass canning or other jars, coffee cans lined with plastic bags, freezer containers, or refrigerator-ware.

You can also use double plastic bags; close them tightly with string, rubber bands, or twist ties. An electric fan to circulate the air in front of your oven, if necessary.  
 
 
BASIC INGREDIENTS

Choose perfect vegetables that are tender, mature (but not woody), and very, very fresh. Vegetables must be prepared and dried immediately after harvesting, or they'll lose flavor and quality. Every minute from harvesting to the drying tray counts — so hurry. Never use produce with bad spots, and harvest only the amount of vegetables you can dry at one session.

Since vegetables must be chilled quickly after blanching, you'll need ice at hand to keep the cooling water really cold. Keep a reserve of ice in the freezer and you won't run short. One way is to start filling heavy-duty plastic bags with Ice cubes a few days before you'll be home drying; or rinse out empty milk • cartons, then fill them with water and freeze.

The kitchen sink is a favorite spot for holding ice water to chill vegetables, but if you want to keep it free for other uses, a plastic dishpan or other large,clean container also works very well.

BASIC DRYING TECHNIQUES

Although the techniques for drying vegetables aren't asprecise as those for freezing or canning, there's definitely a right way to go about it. As with all preserving methods, you must always begin with the freshest and highest-quality vegetables to insure good results. Cleanliness and sanitation when handling and preparing the food are also crucial. And, though drying vegetables isn't difficult to do, it demands plenty of careful attention. The vegetables must be stirred, the temperature checked, and tray positions changed about every half hour. That means you must be at home during the whole time it takes to dry your vegetables.

Speed is of the essence when preparing foods to dry. For best results, vegetables should be blanched, cooled, and blotted dry within a very short time of harvesting. And you must never interrupt the drying process once it's begun. You can't cool partly dried food and then start it up again later, because there's a chance bacteria, molds, and yeasts will find a home in it. Always schedule your home drying for a day when you're certain your work won't be interrupted. 
 
Cleaning and cutting

Harvest only as much food as you can dry at one time. Using a kitchen oven, that's about four to six pounds; an electric dryer or dehydrator can handle up to 14 pounds of fresh produce. Wash and drain the vegetables, then cut and prepare as the recipe directs. Depending on the size of the vegetables and the dryer, that could mean slicing, grating, cutting, or simply breaking the food into pieces so it will dry evenly on all sides. Remember that thin pieces dry faster than thick ones. If you have a choice between French-cutting and crosscutting green beans, remember that the French-cut beans will dry faster.

Blanching

Nearly all vegetables must be blanched before drying. Blanching—a brief heat treatment—stops the action of enzymes, those catalysts for chemical change present in all foods. If certain enzymes aren't deactivated before vegetables are dried, the flavor and color of the food will be destroyed. The drying process alone isn't enough to stop enzyme activity.

Although blanching can also help seal in nutrients, some other water-soluble nutrients are leached out into the cooking water. You may want to steam blanch your vegetables; it takes a bit longer, but won't lead to as great a loss of nutrients.

Always follow the blanching times given in the recipes exactly. Overblanching will result in the loss of vitamins and minerals; under blanching won't do the job of stopping enzyme action. Either way, you'll end up with an inferior product.
Boiling water blanching. Heat one gallon of water to boiling in a blancher. Put no more than one pound or four cups of prepared vegetables at a time into the blancher's insert, colander, or strainer, and carefully lower it into boiling water for the time given in the recipe.

Steam blanching. Pour enough water into the blancher to cover the bottom, but not touch the insert. Heat to boiling. Arrange the prepared vegetables in a single layer in the blancher's insert; put them in the blancher over boiling water, cover tightly, and steam for the time given in the recipe. You can use any large pot or kettle for steam blanching by putting a rack about three inches above the bottom to hold the vegetables in the steam and up out of the boiling water. You may also wish to put the vegetables in a cheesecloth bag to keep the pieces together during blanching.

Chilling

You must always chill blanched vegetables before drying them, to be certain the cooking process has stopped. After removing the vegetables from the blancher, immerse the colander or steamer rack full of vegetables in a sink full of ice water or a dishpan full of ice water. The vegetables should be chilled for the same amount of time the recipe gives for blanching in boiling water. Drain well, then blot with paper towels.

Preparing to dry

Spread the blanched and drained vegetable pieces in a single, even layer on the drying tray. (You can dry more than one vegetable at the same time, but strong-smelling vegetables such as onions, cabbage, and carrots should be dried separately.) Put the trays in the oven or electric dryer, leaving at least one to two inches between the trays for air circulation.

Maintaining proper drying temperature

Vegetables must be dried at low, even temperatures — just enough heat to dry the pieces without cooking them. The proper temperature for drying in a conventional oven is 140°F, 1S0°F for convection ovens. Follow the manufacturer's directions for microwave ovens and all other appliances. Maintaining the right temperature steadily, with some air circulation, is the trick to successful drying. Electric dryers and dehydrators automatically maintain the right temperature. For oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, check your oven thermometer every half hour. (To insure even drying, you must also stir the
vegetables every 30 minutes or so, shift the trays from top to bottom, and rotate the trays from front to back.)

Although rapid drying is important, too rapid drying in an oven will result in the outer surface of the food hardening before the moisture inside has evaporated (case hardening). You can prevent case hardening by keeping a constant watch on the oven temperature and doing whatever is needed to maintain the heat at 140°F.

Scorching. Each vegetable has its own critical temperature beyond which a scorched taste will develop. Although there's not much danger of scorching at the start of the drying process, vegetables can scorch easily during the last couple of hours. Even slight scorching will ruin the flavor and affect the nutritive value of dried foods, so be extravigilant about maintaining the proper temperature toward the end of the drying process.

Ventilation. When vegetables are drying, the moisture they contain escapes by evaporating into the surrounding air. If the air around the food is trapped, it will quickly reach a saturation point. Trapped, saturated air won't be able to hold any additional moisture — and drying won't take place. For this reason, ventilation in and around your oven is as important as keeping the temperature constant.

Electric dryers or dehydrators automatically provide proper ventilation. With oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, you'll need to leave the oven door slightly ajar — and possibly use an electric fan to insure good air circulation.

In addition, the cookie sheets or trays you use for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven so air can circulate around the front, sides, and back of the trays. There should also be at least three inches of air space at the top of the oven.

Testing for doneness

In most forms of food preserving, processing times are exact. You know just how long it takes before the food is done. However, the times for drying vary considerably — from four hours to more than 12 — depending on the kind of vegetable, how thinly it's sliced, how much food is on each tray, and how much is being dried in the oven or dryer at one time. The recipes that follow give you the drying time range for each vegetable, but the only way you can be sure the food is sufficiently dry is to test sample pieces. 
 
When you think the vegetables are dry, remove a few pieces from the tray, then return the tray to the oven. Let the sample pieces cool before testing — even food that's perfectly dry will feel soft and
moist while still warm. When the pieces are cool, follow the test for doneness given for the vegetable in each recipe. A rule of thumb is that properly dried vegetables are hard and brittle to the touch. Exceptions to the rule are mushrooms, sweet peppers, and squash, which will feel pliable and leathery when dry. Some food experts recommend the hammer test: if sufficiently dry, the vegetable pieces will shatter when struck with a hammer.

Conditioning

Foods don't always dry evenly, nor does each piece or slice dry at exactly the same rate as all the others. To be sure all the food in a single batch is evenly dried, you'll have to condition it. Put the cooled, dried vegetables into a large, deep crock, dishpan, jar, or coffee can; then store it in a warm, dry room for a week to 10 days. Cover the jar or can lightly with cheesecloth to keep out insects, and stir the dried pieces at least once a day so that the moisture from any underdried pieces will be absorbed by the overdried pieces.

After conditioning, give the vegetables one final treatment to get rid of any insects or insect eggs. Either put the dried vegetables in the freezer for a few hours, or heat them on a cookie sheet in a closed oven at 175°F for 15 minutes. Be sure to let the food cool completely again before packaging.

HOW TO STORE DRIED VEGETABLES

Keeping out air and moisture is the secret to good dried foods. To maintain the quality and safety of your dried vegetables, you'll need to take special care when packaging and storing them.

Even when you're using an oven or an electric dehydrator, you'll have to watch out for the effects of humidity on drying foods. Choose a bright, sunny day for your home drying—that way you'll keep the dried vegetables from picking up moisture from the surrounding air after they leave the oven or dryer.

Packaging

Dried foods are vulnerable to contamination by insects as soon as they're removed from the oven or electric dryer. To protect them, you must package dried vegetables in airtight, moisture/vaporproof containers just as soon as they're completely dry. Canning jars that have been rinsed out with boiling water and dried, of course, make good containers, as do coffee cans and plastic freezer bags. When using a coffee can, first wrap the vegetable pieces in a plastic bag to keep the metal of the can from affecting the flavor of the food.

Pint-size containers or small plastic bags are best for packaging dried vegetables. Try to pack the food tightly but without crushing it. If you're using
plastic bags, force out as much air as possible before closing them. By using small bags, several may be packed into a larger jar or coffee can — that way you can use small portions as needed, without exposing the whole container to possible contamination each time it's opened.

Storing foods safely

Store your packaged, dried vegetables in a cool, dark, dry place. The cooler the temperature of the storage area, the longer foods will retain their high quality. However, dried foods can't be stored indefinitely, since they do lose vitamins, flavor, color, and aroma during storage. Your pantry or kitchen cupboards may provide good storage, if the area remains cool. A dry basement can also be a good spot. Dried vegetables can be stored in the freezer, too — but why take up valuable freezer space with foods that will keep at cool, room temperature?

Many dried vegetables will keep up to 12 months. If properly stored. Carrots, onions, and cabbage will spoil more quickly, so use them up within six months.

To be on the safe side, check the packages of dried vegetables from time to time. If you find mold, the food is no longer safe and should be discarded immediately. If you find a little moisture, but no spoilage, heat the dried vegetables for 15 minutes
in a 175°F oven; then cool and repackage. If you find much moisture, the vegetables must be put through the entire drying process again. Remember, you must always cool dried foods thoroughly before packaging; if packaged while still warm, they'll sweat and may mold.

HOW TO USE DRIED VEGETABLES

To use dried vegetables, you have to reverse the drying or dehydration process to rehydrate them. This is accomplished in water or other liquid. If you soak dried vegetables before using them, they'll cook much faster. To rehydrate, add two cups of water for each cup of dried vegetables; boiling water will shorten the soaking time. After soaking, the vegetables should regain nearly the same size as when fresh. 
 
Rehydrated vegetables are best used in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and other combination dishes. See the recipes that follow for some serving suggestions.  view all
Drying is probably the oldest method of food preservation. Though canned and frozen foods have taken over the major role once played by dried foods, drying is still cheaper and easier by comparison. Some other advantages of dried foods are that they take up less storage space and will keep well for a long time — up to 12 months — if
prepared and stored properly. Unlike frozen foods, they are not dependent on a power source. Though you may find canned and frozen vegetables are closer in taste and appearance to fresh food, you'll like having a stock of dried vegetables on hand to add variety and special flavor to meals. 
 
STOPPING THE SPOILERS

Drying preserves vegetables by removing moisture, thus cutting off the water supply that would nourish food spoilers like bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The moisture content drops so low that spoilage organisms can't grow.
Although there's a definite technique to drying vegetables, it isn't quite as precise as the procedures used for freezing or canning. Unless you'll be using an electric food dryer, you'll have to use trial and error to find the best way to maintain the proper oven temperature throughout the drying process and to provide good ventilation so moisture from the food can escape. Drying times are given in the recipes for the individual vegetables, but these times are only approximate. Every oven is different, and drying times also depend on how many vegetables you're drying at once, how thinly they've been sliced, and how steady you've kept the heat. So you'll have to experiment at first with drying times. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to judging when your vegetables are dry enough to keep the spoilers from contaminating them.

Vegetables for drying

There are a great many vegetables you can dry at home for use in perking up your salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. Good vegetables to dry include green beans, corn, peas, peppers, okra, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and summer squash.
Herbs also drywell. For more information on drying herbs, see "How to Store and Use Herbs," later in this book.

Although many vegetables drywell, some vegetables should be preserved by other methods for best results. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes don't drywell because of their high moisture content. Asparagus and broccoli are better frozen
to retain their flavor and texture. And if you've got the storage space, you may find it more practical to
store fresh carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, and winter squash in cold storage where they'll keep for several months without any special preserving treatment.

FOOD DRYING METHODS

The sun, of course, Is the food dryer our ancestors used. If you live where Old Sol shines long, you too can dry fruits and vegetables outdoors. But those in less sunny regions will want a little help from a kitchen oven (gas, electric, convection, or microwave) or one of the new electric dryers or dehydrators. You can also make your own box dryer.

Oven drying is faster than using an electric dryer or dehydrator, but the electric dryers can handle much larger food loads than any of the ovens. Oven drying is best for small-scale preserving, since the ordinary kitchen model will hold no more than four to six pounds of food at one time. If you've got an extra-big vegetable garden and expect to dry food
in quantity, you may want to investigate the new electric dryers or dehydrators, available in some stores and through seed catalogs. Several of the small convection ovens now on the market also have special racks available for drying vegetables. When using an electric dryer, or a convection or microwave oven for drying vegetables, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Oven drying

Oven drying may be the easiest way for you to dry food, because it eliminates the need for special equipment. If you've never tried dried vegetables before, why not do up a small batch and sample the taste and texture?

Gas and electric ovens. Preheat your gas or electric oven to 140°F for drying vegetables; you'll need an oven thermometer that registers as low as 100°F in order to keep this temperature constant throughout the many hours of the drying process. Since ovens will vary, you'll probably have to experiment until you learn what works best with yours. For example, the pilot light on some gas stoves may provide just enough heat, or the light bulb in the oven may keep it warm enough for drying vegetables. Some electric ovens have a "low" or "warm" setting that may provide the right temperature for drying.
You must keep the oven door open slightly during drying, so moist air can escape. Use a rolled newspaper, wood block, hot pad, or other similar item to prop open the oven door about one inch for an electric oven and four to six inches for a gas oven. Sometimes it also helps to place an electric fan set on "low" in front of the oven door to keep air circulating. Don't use a fan for a gas oven with a pilot light, though; it can blow out the pilot.

You'll be able to read the oven thermometer easily if you put it in the middle of the top tray of vegetables, take a reading after the first 10 minutes, and, if necessary, make adjustments in the door opening or the temperature control. After^ that, check the oven temperature every 30 minutes during the drying process to be sure it remains constant at 140°F.

To keep air circulating around the food, your drying trays should be one to two inches smaller all around than the interior of your oven. If you want to add more trays, place blocks of wood at the corners of the oven racks and stack the trays at least one-and- a-half inches apart. You can dry up to four trays at once in a conventional oven, but remember that a big load takes longer to dry than a smaller one. Don't use the top position of the oven rack in an electric oven for drying, because food on the top tray will dry too quickly.

Since the temperature varies inside the oven, it's important to shift your vegetable drying trays every half-hour. Rotate the trays from front to back, and shift them from top to bottom. Numbering the trays will help you keep track of the rotation order. You'll also need to stir the vegetables every 30 minutes, to be sure the pieces are drying evenly.

Convection ovens. To dry vegetables in a convection oven, arrange them on the dehydrating racks provided, and place the racks in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 150°F for vegetables, 100°F for herbs. The air should feel warm, not hot. Keep an oven thermometer inside the oven, so you can keep track of the temperature. Prop the oven door open one to one-and-a-half inches to allow moisture to evaporate. Set the oven timer to the "stay o n " position. Or, if your oven doesn't have a "stay on" option, set it for maximum time possible, then reset It during drying, if necessary. Drying times in a convection oven are usually shorter, so check
foods for doneness at the lower range of times given in the recipes. Rotate the racks and stir the vegetables as you would using a conventional oven.

Microwave ovens. To dry foods in a microwave oven, follow the directions that come with your appliance. Usually, you arrange the prepared vegetables in a single, even layer on paper towels, cover them with more paper towels, and then dry the food at a reduced power setting. If you have a microwave roasting rack, arrange the vegetables on It before drying. Stir the vegetables and replace the paper towels with fresh ones periodically. Exact drying times can vary widely, depending on the wattage and efficiency of your oven, the food itself, and the humidity, so you'll need to check frequently and keep a record of best drying times for reference.

Food dryers

Both commercial and homemade food dryers provide automatically controlled heat and ventilation. You can buy the new electric dryers or dehydrators in many hardware, housewares, farm supply, and health food stores. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the size of the appliance and other special features. Or you can make your own drying box, following the directions given below.

Electric dryers or dehydrators. These are lightweight metal boxes with drawer racks for drying foods, which will hold up to 14 pounds of fresh vegetables. If you'll be doing a great deal of home drying, look into an electric dryer, because drying large quantities of vegetables could tie up your kitchen oven for days at a time. Although electric dryers use less electricity for drying than would an electric oven for the same amount of vegetables, electric dryers run at lower temperatures and drying times are a bit longer.

When using an electric dryer or dehydrator, always follow the manufacturer's directions for drying foods. 
 
Homemade drying box. A simple-to-make drying box can be constructed from a cardboard box, as in the instructions that follow. Or you may invent some other alternatives. For example, your radiators may send out enough heat to dry foods in winter, or perhaps your attic in the summer is hot and dry enough. Never use space heaters for drying vegetables, though — space heaters stir up dust and dirt, which contaminate the food.

How to make a drying box. A hardware or discount store should have everything you need to make this simple dryer: 
• Either a metal cookie sheet with sides or a jelly- roll pan is needed to hold the food.

• An empty cardboard box (that has the same top dimensions as the cookie sheet) forms the drying box. The sheet should just fit on top of the box, or the rims of the sides should rest on the edges of the open-topped box. 
• A box of heavy-duty or extra-wide aluminum foil is used to line the box.
• A small can of black paint is used to paint the bottom of the cookie sheet; buy a spray can or a small brush.
• A 60-watt light bulb and socket attached to a cord and plug provide the heat. 
 
Line the inside of the box with foil, shiny side up. Cut a tiny notch in one corner for the cord to run out. Set the light fixture in the center, resting it on a crumpled piece of foil. Paint the bottom of the cookie sheet black and let it dry.

Prepare the vegetables according to the recipe. Spread them in a single, even layer on the black- bottomed cookie sheet. Then put the sheet in place on top of the box. Plug in the light bulb to preheat the box and dry until the food is done according to the recipe. Each recipe specifies how to tell when food is sufficiently dry. If you're drying more than one

sheet of food you II have to make more than one drying box. Don't prepare more food than you can dry at one time.

BASIC DRYING EQUIPMENT

Unless you decide to buy an electric dryer or dehydrator, you've probably already got everything necessary for home drying vegetables. In addition to an oven or a box food dryer, you'll need:

• A scale to weigh food before and after drying. • An oven thermometer that will read as low as 100°F for maintaining proper oven temperature. • Sharp stainless steel knives that won't discolor the vegetables, for thin-slicing, paring, or cutting the food in half.

A cutting board for chopping and slicing. Be sure to scrub the board thoroughly before and after use.

Baking or cookie sheets for use as drying trays. Unless you're making a box food dryer, cookie sheets without raised edges are best, since they allow hot air to circulate around all sides of the vegetables. (For microwave or convection oven drying, you'll need a special rack.) Baking or cookie sheets used for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven, so air can circulate.

A blancher for pretreatment of most vegetables. Use a ready-made blancher; or make one using a deep pot with a cover, and a colander or gasket that will fit down inside the pot. For steam blanching, you'll need a rack or steamer basket.

A long, flexible spatula for stirring the vegetable pieces to insure even drying.
Airtight storage containers, with tight-fitting lids, that are also molsture/vaporproof. Use glass canning or other jars, coffee cans lined with plastic bags, freezer containers, or refrigerator-ware.

You can also use double plastic bags; close them tightly with string, rubber bands, or twist ties. An electric fan to circulate the air in front of your oven, if necessary.  
 
 
BASIC INGREDIENTS

Choose perfect vegetables that are tender, mature (but not woody), and very, very fresh. Vegetables must be prepared and dried immediately after harvesting, or they'll lose flavor and quality. Every minute from harvesting to the drying tray counts — so hurry. Never use produce with bad spots, and harvest only the amount of vegetables you can dry at one session.

Since vegetables must be chilled quickly after blanching, you'll need ice at hand to keep the cooling water really cold. Keep a reserve of ice in the freezer and you won't run short. One way is to start filling heavy-duty plastic bags with Ice cubes a few days before you'll be home drying; or rinse out empty milk • cartons, then fill them with water and freeze.

The kitchen sink is a favorite spot for holding ice water to chill vegetables, but if you want to keep it free for other uses, a plastic dishpan or other large,clean container also works very well.

BASIC DRYING TECHNIQUES

Although the techniques for drying vegetables aren't asprecise as those for freezing or canning, there's definitely a right way to go about it. As with all preserving methods, you must always begin with the freshest and highest-quality vegetables to insure good results. Cleanliness and sanitation when handling and preparing the food are also crucial. And, though drying vegetables isn't difficult to do, it demands plenty of careful attention. The vegetables must be stirred, the temperature checked, and tray positions changed about every half hour. That means you must be at home during the whole time it takes to dry your vegetables.

Speed is of the essence when preparing foods to dry. For best results, vegetables should be blanched, cooled, and blotted dry within a very short time of harvesting. And you must never interrupt the drying process once it's begun. You can't cool partly dried food and then start it up again later, because there's a chance bacteria, molds, and yeasts will find a home in it. Always schedule your home drying for a day when you're certain your work won't be interrupted. 
 
Cleaning and cutting

Harvest only as much food as you can dry at one time. Using a kitchen oven, that's about four to six pounds; an electric dryer or dehydrator can handle up to 14 pounds of fresh produce. Wash and drain the vegetables, then cut and prepare as the recipe directs. Depending on the size of the vegetables and the dryer, that could mean slicing, grating, cutting, or simply breaking the food into pieces so it will dry evenly on all sides. Remember that thin pieces dry faster than thick ones. If you have a choice between French-cutting and crosscutting green beans, remember that the French-cut beans will dry faster.

Blanching

Nearly all vegetables must be blanched before drying. Blanching—a brief heat treatment—stops the action of enzymes, those catalysts for chemical change present in all foods. If certain enzymes aren't deactivated before vegetables are dried, the flavor and color of the food will be destroyed. The drying process alone isn't enough to stop enzyme activity.

Although blanching can also help seal in nutrients, some other water-soluble nutrients are leached out into the cooking water. You may want to steam blanch your vegetables; it takes a bit longer, but won't lead to as great a loss of nutrients.

Always follow the blanching times given in the recipes exactly. Overblanching will result in the loss of vitamins and minerals; under blanching won't do the job of stopping enzyme action. Either way, you'll end up with an inferior product.
Boiling water blanching. Heat one gallon of water to boiling in a blancher. Put no more than one pound or four cups of prepared vegetables at a time into the blancher's insert, colander, or strainer, and carefully lower it into boiling water for the time given in the recipe.

Steam blanching. Pour enough water into the blancher to cover the bottom, but not touch the insert. Heat to boiling. Arrange the prepared vegetables in a single layer in the blancher's insert; put them in the blancher over boiling water, cover tightly, and steam for the time given in the recipe. You can use any large pot or kettle for steam blanching by putting a rack about three inches above the bottom to hold the vegetables in the steam and up out of the boiling water. You may also wish to put the vegetables in a cheesecloth bag to keep the pieces together during blanching.

Chilling

You must always chill blanched vegetables before drying them, to be certain the cooking process has stopped. After removing the vegetables from the blancher, immerse the colander or steamer rack full of vegetables in a sink full of ice water or a dishpan full of ice water. The vegetables should be chilled for the same amount of time the recipe gives for blanching in boiling water. Drain well, then blot with paper towels.

Preparing to dry

Spread the blanched and drained vegetable pieces in a single, even layer on the drying tray. (You can dry more than one vegetable at the same time, but strong-smelling vegetables such as onions, cabbage, and carrots should be dried separately.) Put the trays in the oven or electric dryer, leaving at least one to two inches between the trays for air circulation.

Maintaining proper drying temperature

Vegetables must be dried at low, even temperatures — just enough heat to dry the pieces without cooking them. The proper temperature for drying in a conventional oven is 140°F, 1S0°F for convection ovens. Follow the manufacturer's directions for microwave ovens and all other appliances. Maintaining the right temperature steadily, with some air circulation, is the trick to successful drying. Electric dryers and dehydrators automatically maintain the right temperature. For oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, check your oven thermometer every half hour. (To insure even drying, you must also stir the
vegetables every 30 minutes or so, shift the trays from top to bottom, and rotate the trays from front to back.)

Although rapid drying is important, too rapid drying in an oven will result in the outer surface of the food hardening before the moisture inside has evaporated (case hardening). You can prevent case hardening by keeping a constant watch on the oven temperature and doing whatever is needed to maintain the heat at 140°F.

Scorching. Each vegetable has its own critical temperature beyond which a scorched taste will develop. Although there's not much danger of scorching at the start of the drying process, vegetables can scorch easily during the last couple of hours. Even slight scorching will ruin the flavor and affect the nutritive value of dried foods, so be extravigilant about maintaining the proper temperature toward the end of the drying process.

Ventilation. When vegetables are drying, the moisture they contain escapes by evaporating into the surrounding air. If the air around the food is trapped, it will quickly reach a saturation point. Trapped, saturated air won't be able to hold any additional moisture — and drying won't take place. For this reason, ventilation in and around your oven is as important as keeping the temperature constant.

Electric dryers or dehydrators automatically provide proper ventilation. With oven drying or when using a homemade box dryer, you'll need to leave the oven door slightly ajar — and possibly use an electric fan to insure good air circulation.

In addition, the cookie sheets or trays you use for drying should be at least one to two inches smaller all around than the inside of your oven so air can circulate around the front, sides, and back of the trays. There should also be at least three inches of air space at the top of the oven.

Testing for doneness

In most forms of food preserving, processing times are exact. You know just how long it takes before the food is done. However, the times for drying vary considerably — from four hours to more than 12 — depending on the kind of vegetable, how thinly it's sliced, how much food is on each tray, and how much is being dried in the oven or dryer at one time. The recipes that follow give you the drying time range for each vegetable, but the only way you can be sure the food is sufficiently dry is to test sample pieces. 
 
When you think the vegetables are dry, remove a few pieces from the tray, then return the tray to the oven. Let the sample pieces cool before testing — even food that's perfectly dry will feel soft and
moist while still warm. When the pieces are cool, follow the test for doneness given for the vegetable in each recipe. A rule of thumb is that properly dried vegetables are hard and brittle to the touch. Exceptions to the rule are mushrooms, sweet peppers, and squash, which will feel pliable and leathery when dry. Some food experts recommend the hammer test: if sufficiently dry, the vegetable pieces will shatter when struck with a hammer.

Conditioning

Foods don't always dry evenly, nor does each piece or slice dry at exactly the same rate as all the others. To be sure all the food in a single batch is evenly dried, you'll have to condition it. Put the cooled, dried vegetables into a large, deep crock, dishpan, jar, or coffee can; then store it in a warm, dry room for a week to 10 days. Cover the jar or can lightly with cheesecloth to keep out insects, and stir the dried pieces at least once a day so that the moisture from any underdried pieces will be absorbed by the overdried pieces.

After conditioning, give the vegetables one final treatment to get rid of any insects or insect eggs. Either put the dried vegetables in the freezer for a few hours, or heat them on a cookie sheet in a closed oven at 175°F for 15 minutes. Be sure to let the food cool completely again before packaging.

HOW TO STORE DRIED VEGETABLES

Keeping out air and moisture is the secret to good dried foods. To maintain the quality and safety of your dried vegetables, you'll need to take special care when packaging and storing them.

Even when you're using an oven or an electric dehydrator, you'll have to watch out for the effects of humidity on drying foods. Choose a bright, sunny day for your home drying—that way you'll keep the dried vegetables from picking up moisture from the surrounding air after they leave the oven or dryer.

Packaging

Dried foods are vulnerable to contamination by insects as soon as they're removed from the oven or electric dryer. To protect them, you must package dried vegetables in airtight, moisture/vaporproof containers just as soon as they're completely dry. Canning jars that have been rinsed out with boiling water and dried, of course, make good containers, as do coffee cans and plastic freezer bags. When using a coffee can, first wrap the vegetable pieces in a plastic bag to keep the metal of the can from affecting the flavor of the food.

Pint-size containers or small plastic bags are best for packaging dried vegetables. Try to pack the food tightly but without crushing it. If you're using
plastic bags, force out as much air as possible before closing them. By using small bags, several may be packed into a larger jar or coffee can — that way you can use small portions as needed, without exposing the whole container to possible contamination each time it's opened.

Storing foods safely

Store your packaged, dried vegetables in a cool, dark, dry place. The cooler the temperature of the storage area, the longer foods will retain their high quality. However, dried foods can't be stored indefinitely, since they do lose vitamins, flavor, color, and aroma during storage. Your pantry or kitchen cupboards may provide good storage, if the area remains cool. A dry basement can also be a good spot. Dried vegetables can be stored in the freezer, too — but why take up valuable freezer space with foods that will keep at cool, room temperature?

Many dried vegetables will keep up to 12 months. If properly stored. Carrots, onions, and cabbage will spoil more quickly, so use them up within six months.

To be on the safe side, check the packages of dried vegetables from time to time. If you find mold, the food is no longer safe and should be discarded immediately. If you find a little moisture, but no spoilage, heat the dried vegetables for 15 minutes
in a 175°F oven; then cool and repackage. If you find much moisture, the vegetables must be put through the entire drying process again. Remember, you must always cool dried foods thoroughly before packaging; if packaged while still warm, they'll sweat and may mold.

HOW TO USE DRIED VEGETABLES

To use dried vegetables, you have to reverse the drying or dehydration process to rehydrate them. This is accomplished in water or other liquid. If you soak dried vegetables before using them, they'll cook much faster. To rehydrate, add two cups of water for each cup of dried vegetables; boiling water will shorten the soaking time. After soaking, the vegetables should regain nearly the same size as when fresh. 
 
Rehydrated vegetables are best used in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and other combination dishes. See the recipes that follow for some serving suggestions.