I have a little trick I would like to share with you today for dehydrating greens, such as dandelion, kale, spinach and escarole.
Some of you may have watched the video on YouTube I titled, Garbage Soup. That is where I toss all kinds of old veggies or cuttings into a bag in the freezer until I have a gallon bag full. Then I put them in a pot with several gallons of water, and simmer them to create a delicious vegetable broth. It is a simple habit to build that helps reduce your family waste and gives you a kitchen staple you have created yourself. No more buying stock or broth from the store for recipes. I have another example to share with you today of the old-fashioned adage, waste not, want not!
Pretty much every grocery trip, we buy a bag or two of spinach to eat sauteed, in omelets, soups or as salads. Sometimes we also buy kale or turnip greens. We grow our own escarole and dandelion greens, too. We always have the best of intentions when we grab those greens – we intend to eat them right away. But often we end up with more than we will eat in a week, and greens can go south very quickly.
What do I do with them when they are starting to look a little weary?
One of two things…
a) I simply wash them & shake them dry. If you have a salad spinner, you can use that because they get the leaves very nicely dry. Next, I lay the leaves in a thin layer on the drying racks. You want to have good air circulation, so don’t lay them on thick. You may chop them lightly to reduce drying time if you would like.
Set the dehydrator for the proper temperature (125 F if not humid, 130-135F if humid), and let the greens dry completely. This will likely take several hours. I like don’t like to set this up in the evenings because I do check on them multiple times to see if any greens have stuck together. This is better for me as a morning task.
When checking, you want to make sure to pull apart any thick areas of leaves so that there is no hidden moisture. Moisture could trigger your greens to mold in storage. Then, simply allow them to dry completely.
b) If I am short on time and can’t prep them for dehydrating right away, I often just grab the bag, close it tightly, and toss it into the freezer for a few days until I CAN dehydrate them. Taking greens, like spinach, from the freezer is sometimes a little easier for me to fit them into my day for drying. I can break the frozen greens into smaller pieces and sprinkle them on the mesh drying trays, rather than the racks. Again, making certain that the greens are laid out in a thin layer. I set the dehydrator a bit higher at the beginning for frozen greens. I start out at 135F degrees because they are already humid coming out of the freezer – they will seem to have a bit more moisture than fresh greens. After a couple of hours, I reduce the temperature to 125F degrees, and allow to dehydrate until completely dried.
A lot of people do not know what to do with this dried spinach once it is done. It is so easy to use in soups, sprinkled on salads, in casseroles, made into powder to be added to smoothies, tossed into muffin or sweet bread mixes – it works best in blueberry or zucchini muffins and breads. The possibilities are endless!
Please note that your dried spinach is recommended to be stored 6 months or less based on optimum conditions. But if you keep a rotation of jars in your pantry, always adding the newest to the back of the shelf, you will have a constant supply of greens hidden in your food supply! Just think of the hidden nutrition you could be adding to your meals!
Can you also dehydrate spinach in your oven? Yes – if your temperature goes as low as 150F degrees you can! Above this temp your spinach will likely cook, rather than dry. But if you haven’t been able to pick up a dehydrator for yourself as yet, this might be a great option for you to try!
I hope this sparks you to start storing dried greens for YOUR family as well!
Blessings and Shalom!
Judith has over 30 years experience in food storage, herbs, essential oils, and prepping. She was a captain in the USAF-AUX, FEMA trained, Community Emergency Response Team member and NRA marksmanship award recipient. She shares her experiences with her readers offering tips and recipes.
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