by Tammy Taylor
Have you ever noticed when you go into the store that there are rows & rows of identical produce, all perfectly shaped & sized. But if you grow a garden or stroll through a farmer’s market you’ll realize that perfect produce is just a fairy tale. Real produce has variation in sizes and colors. Some produce isn’t very pretty so the stores (and even some farmer’s market vendors) don’t like to sell it due to consumer-perceived imperfections. Such a sad waste!
But I’m here to tell you that the fairy tale has a happy ending when I play fairy godmother.
I take those ugly misshapen carrots and make them beautiful. And it’s not hard at all to do. I like to dehydrate much of my fresh produce excess so today I’ll be dehydrating some of these soon-to-be-beautiful carrots. Bibbidy-bobbidy-boo!
Ugly Produce Changed
First I pull out the ugly carrots – some are way too large, some have several points grown into one carrot, some are twisted and shaped strangely. I’ll peel them all then rinse them clean. Now I dice them up and although I’ve read that it’s ideal to cut them into roughly 1-centimeter chunks. But I’m just haphazardly cutting them into small chunks and not paying too much attention to perfection. Hey, that’s just the way I roll! I could use a mandolin for this slicing chore but since RancherMan had a mishap several years ago it was banished from the Taylor kingdom. No worries, a sharp knife completes this task quickly.
First Blanch Carrots To Be Dehydrated
After the carrots are all diced I blanch them for about 3 minutes. This will prepare them for dehydrating & make them quicker to cook when rehydrated. A quick way to blanch my carrots is to use my vegetable steamer. It heats up quicker than a pan of water on the stove would. Plus I can steam a few handfuls of carrots, toss them into a bowl of ice water to stop the heating process on them and throw another handful of carrots into the steamer. I just repeat until all my carrots are steamed. This is my very
lazy, I mean efficient way to steam veggies for dehydration. (read update)
UPDATE: I’ve read that raw carrots that are simply chopped & dehydrated lose their bright color and flavor in storage. I’ve found that to be true with this steaming process as well. I’m now properly blanching my raw carrots in a pot of boiling water and they store much better. Read my findings in an updated carrot-preservation post HERE
Dehydrating Your Blanched Produce
Now I’ll layer the carrots on my dehydrator trays. It’s best to spread them all out where they don’t touch but again, perfection is not the way I roll… I know as the veggies dehydrate they will shrink & won’t be touching anyway. So I just load up the dehydrator and spread them quickly, then turn the dehydrator on & walk away for awhile.
I usually rotate the trays about once every 2-3 hours. But again, no schedule (see above proclamation regarding my lack of perfection) Depending upon how evenly the carrots were sliced they will usually dehydrate in about 10-12 hours.
When my carrots are fully dehydrated I let them air dry for another day just to make sure there’s no moisture remaining. Then I toss them into a glass jar, label the top & place them in my pantry for future use. I like to use these bread yeast jars since they’re dark and I read that carrots lose some of their nutrition in light. It’s a perfect way to repurpose these perfect-sized jars!
Dehydrated carrots will obviously last substantially longer than fresh carrots. And storing them in my pantry takes no additional energy like storing fresh carrots in the refrigerator or prepared carrots in the freezer would. Rehydrating these carrots is as easy as pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to sit for about 15 minutes.
Using Dehydrated Carrots
There are many uses for my now-rehydrated carrots – if I’m making a carrot side dish I can sprinkle dried dill and a little butter, salt & pepper then microwave them for about 2 minutes. If I’m adding them to homemade soup I toss the dehydrated carrots into the soup pot as it simmers. They’ll rehydrate right there in the soup! Or if some of these dehydrated carrots are ground in my coffee grinder to make veggie granules. I can sprinkle them directly into my pot whether I’m cooking rice or pasta sauce to add a little more nutrition and a deeper flavor to those dishes.
Whew, this fairy godmother has performed well today so it’s time to take a coffee break. Oh so many uses for these now-beautiful carrots!
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