Monday, November 16, 2015

Carrots, Carrots and More Carrots

I started with 24 lbs. of carrots that were on sale for 99 cents per 2 lb. bag.  That's a really good price for my area.  If they were carrots I had grown myself or had bought at the Farmers Market, I would have just scrubbed them clean.  But commercially grown produce often has been treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting between field and market, so I peeled them.

Next the carrots were cut to fit my Vidalia food chopper.  For canning I often slice carrots, but the diced ones hold up better in soup, so I chopped them into 1/2 inch dices.  I ended up with 18 quarts of diced carrots.

These were going to be dehydrated.  You can dehydrate carrots without blanching, but they rehydrate faster if blanched for three minutes before drying.  And they hold their color better.

Dehydrated vegetables shrink down considerably, so I use plastic mesh inserts on my trays to prevent the small pieces from falling through.  I have 14 inserts, so I filled 14 trays, using 15 quarts of the diced carrots.  The other three quarts went into the freezer.  I set both dehydrators at 135 degrees.  I am not sure how long the drying process took.  The length of time depends a lot on humidity.  Vegetables dry faster on clear days than on rainy ones.  I started these early in the afternoon and just let them run all night.  They carrots were completely dried by noon the next day.  The 15 quarts of diced carrots dried down in volume to about 1 - 1/2 quarts.

There are several ways to store dehydrated vegetables.  Some use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.  Others use canning jars and still others use Food Savers to remove the air in the bags and to seal them.  I have tried the Food Saver method, but often dehydrated food has sharp edges that can easily puncture the bags.  And canning jars take up too much shelf space.  I found that if I store the dried vegetables in freezer bags, sometime using double bags if there are a lot of sharp edges, that works just fine.  I am not recommending this method - just saying what I do.  Air and light are not the friend of dehydrated foods.  So I bought a bunch of those cardboard bankers boxes with the lids - the kind that can be found at most office supply stores.  If you have read previous posts here, you know that I whine a lot about my lack of storage space.  But I have one of those heavy duty plastic, snap together shelving units that fits nicely behind my bedroom door.  Each shelf holds 3 boxes.  I can fit 15 boxes on the shelves - 18 if I stack the top boxes two high.  Each is labeled with the contents, and that whole setup works well for me.  I have used dried vegetables that are 5 years old, with no difference in looks or taste from those recently dried.

If I want carrots as a vegetable for a meal, I will use my canned carrots.  But if I am making soup, which I do often in the fall and winter, I use the dried carrots.  I don't have a recipe.  I just put two or three quarts of water in the crock pot, some bouillon for flavor, a pint jar of whatever canned meat sounds good to me, and several handfuls of whatever vegetables I like.  The biggest problem is remembering that a large handful of carrots will rehydrate into at least a pint of carrots, so I need to use them sparingly.

I really like having the dried vegetables in my pantry.  They work so well for soups and stews and, if soaked in boiling water, most will rehydrate well enough for use as a side dish.  And it just gives me another option for food storage without taking up as much space as the canned vegetables do.  Works well for me.


  1. I really haven't dehydrated food very much as I only have a small inexpensive dehydrator that I picked up at a second hand store and it has seen limited use, although it did get used a bit this year for some onions and peppers. Curious as to what brand/make of dehydrator's that you have or your recommendations in this area.

    I'm reading this post at 3:00 a.m. as I haven't been able to sleep tonight as I've been listening to the wind howl at 35 to 40 mph outside and it's rattling the house. Oh, well at least being retired now I don't need to head off to work in a couple of hours.

  2. lol - Sometimes, I wonder how you have room for furniture in your apartment.

  3. There is a gentleman in our area that dehydrates just about everything for the same reason you do. Takes up less space and doesn't require a canner, jars, etc. One challenge I see in a collapse situation to dehydrated foods is the need for water. As long as there is a potable, dependable water supply, that's great, if there isn't, it could be a problem. Your advantage is having both canned and dehydrated foods. Hopefully the liquid from the canned items will be enough to rehydrate the dried ones. Just a thought.


  4. Jim...I have two Nesco Snackmaster Pro dehydrators. They run about $60 each at Fleet Farm. The heating element and fan are in the lid. In others I have used, these were at the bottom and bits of dried food would fall into the motor, shortening the life of the machine. I think a person can use up to 10 trays on each. The only drawback I have found is that the food on the top trays dries faster than on the bottom trays, but I just rotate trays about halfway through the drying cycle. The main thing to look for is a way to set the temperature. Some foods dry better at a higher heat and some, like parsley leaves, do better on a lower heat setting.

    Some folks swear by the Excalibur dehydrator and I understand it is a good machine, but I just couldn't justify the expense. Both of my Nesco dehydrators together cost about the same as an Excalibur, and they work just fine for me.

    You must have read this post about the time I added it. In my dotage I find that sometimes I sleep and sometimes, not so much. That's one of the lovely things about retirement, isn't it. If we don't sleep at night, we can nap during the day and nobody cares! :)

  5. Gorges...I still have room for furniture. I just stash stuff behind or under it. :)

  6. Fern...The reasons you mentioned for dehydrating vegetables are the main reasons I preserve some foods this way. And I like having more than one option for storing food.

    I store water in soda and juice bottles stashed behind my couch and behind other furniture, most of which is set cattywampus in corners, giving me room behind for that purpose. Stackable water jugs are on my short list of things I need to buy.

    I live one block from the Minnesota River and, although the water is not the cleanest in the world, a good water filter and boiling should make it usable. I am researching water filtering solutions and hope to have one in place shortly.

    There is also an artesian well about a mile away. Over the years pipes have been added to make filling jugs from this free-flowing well an easy task. It is accessible by vehicle and even if that were not possible, it is still close enough to access on foot, pulling a cart or wagon if need be.

    For short term water, I keep several empty buckets handy. We can lose power due to summer storms and winter blizzards and once due to a drunk driver who took out a power pole, the fool. When the power goes out I fill the buckets while I still have water pressure.

    Between these solutions, I think I will be OK for water.

  7. I bought my dehydrator at the thrift store for $5. Don't think it had ever been used. It has the motor on the bottom and is subject to food falling into it. I just have to be more careful when I load the trays. For the money, it's been great. I bought it initially to dry tomatoes as I love 'sun-dried' in pasta but they were too pricey in the store. I've since expanded to apples and just recently dried frozen veggies. Love your idea about the banker's boxes and using ziplock bags. I had the same problem using my Foodsaver; some bags didn't seal because of small holes. Love what you write, I'm always learning. Am going to wander around my apartment and see what I can tuck behind the furniture and walls. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  8. SJ...Most of what I have learned about prepping (I don't really like that word, [too Doomsday Prepper, I suppose] but there it is.) I've learned from bloggers or those who post YouTube Videos. And sometimes it is just having to find solutions due to my living conditions. I decided to try the bankers boxes because I just didn't have the spare cash to go out and buy Rubber Maid containers to hold all of the dehydrated foods like many have done. And the Foodsaver bags are pretty spendy. I use them for other things, but the heavy freezer bags work just fine for dehydrated foods.

    I, too, have dried lots of the frozen vegetables. When there is a sale on them, I buy lots to dry. (I can lots of them, too - corn, green beans, peas, mixed vegetables.) I particularly like the frozen corn. It rehydrates really well to use as a vegetable, but I mostly grind it up using my little electric food chopper (like a mini food processor, sort of) or my blender and use it half and half with cornmeal for cornbread. It makes wonderful cornbread.

    I have learned so much from others and I am happy when I am able, in my own small way, to help someone else in return. Kind of makes it all worthwhile. :)

  9. My dehydrator is also a Nesco with the round tray's, however I can't adjust the temperature it just runs on one setting. I have been rotating the trays so I guess I'm doing similar to what you are doing. I'll keep using what I have as I paid $4.00 for this unit and it seems to be working well so far.

  10. Jim...You know that old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I used a dehydrator like yours for a long time before buying a replacement when the old one finally died. I am very blessed to have a son who furnished me with the second dehydrator when I was up to my ears in tomatoes that were about to go bad and I couldn't dry them fast enough. And even with being able to adjust the temperature, I still rotate trays to insure that the food all gets dry at about the same time. Wish I could have found a $4 dehydrator. :)

  11. You know I think you should sell have of what you can to make money to buy different things.... LOL Sorry a liberal moment..LOL. you are amazing I can't get my wife to do any more then piss the family off. Time to get ready for CAP.

  12. Rob...You scared me there for a minute. Thought you had turned Democrat! :)
    I guess it might be easier for me to do this food preservation thing because it is something I enjoy doing. Not everyone does a happy dance at the sight of 24 lbs. of carrots to deal with. I don't think it matters how we prepare - whether we can and dehydrate food or if we buy extra when it is on sale - as long as we are in some way getting ready for what is coming.

  13. I had a WM dehydrator and hated it. When I had a largish windfall, I decided not to squander it on little things, so I got the nine-tray Excalibur and love it. I have about four pounds of carrots to dehydrate right now. I have been eating dehydrated bananas from two years ago and have not been poisoned. I keep jars of canned or dehydrated foods behind cabinet doors not on open shelves. That keeps the light out.

    Dehydrating is the greatest thing ever!