The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Wednesday 8 July 2015

Building up your pantry with dehydrating. By Teri.


  I’ve been canning, freezing and drying foods for years, to add to our food storage.  I was also taught not to waste extras and use food that was on hand.  These ideas all work for us, plus I’ve “gleaned” ideas from others over the years!

Investing time now will save time later.  (When you have too much of any one food to use, dehydrate the rest for later)!  This saves time and money.  “Waste not, want not” is a saying I’ve heard all my life!  So, I hope the following tips will help each of you:

  1. Make your own bread crumbs by drying leftover bread.  Use a small processor to grind the dried bread or use a rolling pin.  Add dried herbs and seasonings, if you want.  (I like to keep a big container of crumbs in my pantry/freezer and then season only what I take out).Many of you already do this I know but it’s worth repeating!  J 
  2. Dry lemon peel, grind and add to black pepper for your own lemon-pepper mixture. (You can also add citric acid for a more “tart” taste but I don’t do this).
  3. We grow a variety of herbs in our garden and I dry them to use plus give for gifts.  Even if you buy fresh parsley or other herbs, use what you want fresh and dry the rest. (I’ve also bought bulk herbs/spices from San Francisco Herb Co., Bulk and WinCo, which has bulk spices for very reasonable prices).
  4. Celery leaves can be dried and used in soups, stews, etc. And, I also chop up celery to dry. I make my own celery salt (celery leaves, some spinach or lettuce and salt. Be sure the dried veggies are ground first).   (When using dehydrated veggies in soups and stews, re-hydrate first unless you are using a slow cooker). I use a small bowl, microwave the water with the veggies in it for about 1 minute, and then let it sit on the counter. By the time I need them for dinner, they are rehydrated.
  5. Cabbage, chopped; summer squash and zucchini, diced or sliced; green beans and carrots all work well when added to soups, etc. (I blanch green beans and carrots first). Cabbage darkens a bit over time but is still delicious rehydrated and added to casseroles, soups, stews, etc.
  6. Also, potatoes can be sliced and dried, just blanch them first.  Otherwise, they will turn a very dark color.
When I open a bottle of fruit, we often drink the juice and I make fruit leather in my dehydrator with the mashed up fruit, unless we eat itJ. When I open a bottle of cherries or peaches, I dry the fruit, if we are 

  1. not using it for another use.  I also add applesauce and spices to my fruit leather.  Applesauce takes on the flavor of any fruit and thickens.
  2. Store your dehydrated foods in recycled, clean glass jars; zip top storage bags; plastic cans or canisters. (I like to use my recycled glass jars for dried foods but plastic bags or tins work too.

  1. Also, keep in mind that bargain foods can be purchased from the grocery store in large quantities, when the cost is low and fruits and vegetables are in season.  The harvest of summer gardens, and produce from roadside stands, also offer foods to buy and “put by”.
  2. Dehydration Made Simple by Mary Bell is the book I use most, and I have a book by Deanna DeLong titled How to Dry Foods.  There are many books about canning, freezing, dehydrating and food storage that have wonderful information.  I use my Ball Blue Book for many canning recipes and one called Food Storage by Carol Happing and the Rodale Staff.  Both these books are full of information.  All of these books have “tons” of information for putting food by and I’m sure the library has many books also. Of course the internet has useful information too.
  3. When you start dehydrating, I would suggest fruits such as bananas or apples.  (You may want to pre-treat them). Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on them prior to drying, if you want a yummy treat!   Always rotate your trays and turn each piece of fruit every couple hours.  Fruit leather is easier with leather trays and pureed tomatoes can be dried on leather trays and then ground to use for seasoning soups and sauces. (I dry my extra tomatoes and grind them, unseasoned, for tomato sauce and using in spaghetti sauce, meatballs/meatloaf, etc.)
  4. There are several ways to dry food.  Besides a dehydrator, an oven can be used (although more expensive).  I often use a sunny window for small amounts of food.  I recently dried my citrus peel this way.  Window screens can be using outside with netting/tulle to cover the food.  Just bring your food in at night.
  5. When drying onions, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage etc., I put my dehydrator outside on the porch or in the garage.  These smell very “fragrant” and I prefer the smell to stay outside!  lol 
  6. I have been making my own dry onion soup mix for years.  There are many recipes but this is the one I use:  4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules/powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 8 teaspoons dried, chopped onions and about 1 Tablespoon of dry parsley, crumbled.  Mix together and store in a small glass jar.  (I double, triple or 4x this recipe and I like to powder all the dry chopped onion.  I measure it into a small food processor and chop/grind it.  I use beef cubes, as it is less expensive than granules/powder, and run them through my coffee grinder first, then add to the onions in the processor.)

  1. Another dry mix that I always keep in my pantry is the Soup or Sauce mix (SOS) I referred to in my first pantry post.  Annabel linked to it in that post and it’s a great way to save money, handy to have, shelf stable and can be used in many recipes.  This is how I make my creamed soup, “hamburger helper”, etc. I adjust the dry herbs to our liking and for the bouillon powder; I run the cubes through my coffee grinder. 

  1. When our kids were home, they enjoyed cauliflower/broccoli with cheese sauce.  At that time, I bought one #10 can of dried cheese powder to make a quick cheese sauce mix for the pantry.  It was cheaper than the packets from the supermarket and I knew it could sit in the pantry.  It called for butter powder which I could not find at that time, so I would just add a pat of butter when I made the sauce.  I noticed Brandy, at the prudent homemaker blog, put cheese powder on her grocery list for July.  It can be used in many recipes, so I will need to check prices again.
  2. Drying your own food and then using it daily, will save you money, trips to the store, less waste and helps build your pantry! (After cooking a whole chicken last week, I put the bones, seasonings and dried veggies in the slow cooker to make broth. (Later, soaked pinto beans will go into the strained broth for more economical meals)! It’s so easy to pull jars from the pantry and add all my veggies!
  3.  Adding a variety of dried fruits, vegetables and herbs to your pantry will make mealtime enjoyable and tasty!!  Keeping the spices your family uses on hand also makes meals/baked goods, etc. taste yummy.  Rotation, labeling dates and using our food storage are all very important!
  4. Because it requires water to rehydrate food, it’s a good idea to store extra, so you will have enough for drinking, cooking and rehydrating.
  5. If you find packages of frozen veggies on sale at your supermarket and don’t have freezer space (or just want more shelf stable food), put them on your dehydrator, no blanching necessary.  I’ve also done this with my excess frozen veggies that I’ve blanched. And, recently, I drained my own canned zucchini and yellow squash, blotted dry and dehydrated.  These were ground into powder and added to my veggie mix in the pantry.  (We didn’t care for the squash canned as a vegetable, so instead of tossing them, I dried them.)  Waste not!!       

To me, the possibilities are endless and so worthwhile.  What better way to add to your food storage and feed your family snacks and meals with far less additives.  While drying food will take up less space, remember to re-hydrate it when cooking (each recipe will be a little different).  Dried fruits are a great snack and can be mixed with nuts to make a “trail mix” or tossed into a bowl of granola. Experiment!  That’s what I have been doing for years.  Some things work, some don’t but you are learning a new skill or adding new ideas! I hope this helps each of you!  And thank you for all your wonderful, encouraging comments!!  J  Teri

(Thank you so much Teri! I am going to be dehydrating many more things. I am sorry the numbers are out of whack, they would not cooperate no matter what I tried!) xxx


  1. oh wow Teri, that is fantastic information. Really wonderful. I'm going to print that out and add it to my reading matter. Thank you for sharing.
    Thank you Annabel for all of this. Fi xx

    1. Fiona, You're welcome! I'm glad you will be able to use this information! Teri

  2. Annabel, you did a fantastic job! Thank you so much!!! The numbers aren't important, I just appreciate you for giving me this opportunity! :)

    Love, Teri

    1. and again, this is what I love about Annabel's blog - the generosity - there you are Teri, thanking Annabel for the opportunity to share. But in reality, we are all grateful to YOU for sharing with us. Fi xx

  3. Thanks Teri, such great information. I have lost the book I got with my dryer but remember seeing that you could dehydrate even meat based meals. have you done much of that? I am going to try dehydrating my stock concentrate as I am trying to make a soup base to take camping that I just have to add boiling water to.

    1. Garden Del, You may be able to find and print your dryer manual off the internet? We have done this for other things. I have tried drying cooked turkey/chicken. I think I left it on too long but we added warm broth and used it for our dog. lol
      That said, I have made beef jerky many times with great success. That would be good to take camping! I would be interested in knowing how your stock concentrate turned out? I have not tried that yet.
      Have a fun time! Teri

  4. Thanks so much Teri, this is wonderful information! I really need to print it out and have a thorough read of it. I am sure it will be a wonderful reference in the days to come. xoxo

    Annabel, I didn't even notice the numbers! Lol! Had to look carefully over the post to know what you meant by it. :-)

    1. KayeB, I'm glad this was useful information for you! :) Teri

  5. I love this post, thank you so much Teri and Annabel. I'm new to drying food, about 3 years or so in and learning all the time. I love it. This year I've dried basil from my garden and we are using it in our cooking now and it is so much more fragrant than what I've been buying.

    I also dried tomatoes from our garden and have them in jars with garlic and basil for us to nibble on. They're great with soft cheese on crusty bread.

    I put the dehydrator outside too, mostly to keep the heat out in summer, but because some foods can be a little pungent, mushrooms are particularly fragrant when they're drying :)

    I started by using the oven, nowadays I have a two tray Aldi dehydrator but it works like a charm for this beginner. I'm sure once it collapses from over-use I'll be looking and saving for something more substantial.

    1. Cath, it sounds like you are trying lots of goodies in your dehydrator My first one used a small light bulb! lol Drying your own herbs is so handy and much tastier! I do dry mushrooms outside! lol I do love Annabel's idea of stringing mushrooms like garland where the warmth of the fire dries them! The window sill works great on sunny days! Thanks, Teri

  6. Thank you Teri for the great post and Annabel for sharing it with us. I am hoping when things are more organised to dehydrate some foods. My stockpile is slowly growing. Today while picking up a prescription I heard the pharmacist tell a customer that the tablets he needed for his blood pressure were out of stock in Victoria, this man only had a 4 day supply left. Unfortunately the PBS system is set up so that we can't stockpile prescription medications.

    1. Maggie, I'm glad you are adding to your stockpile! Dehydrating is a great way to add to it also. I find I waste less too.
      That would be scary to not be able to get a prescription refilled! I will be asking our doctor/pharmacy about any shortages.
      Thank you for your comment! Teri

  7. Thanks Teri, what a lot of good information. That will come in handy for me as I don't have much freezer space. We can always learn something new from each other can't we?

    1. Nanna Chel, Yes, we can! I learn or am reminded of something each time I read a post from Annabel's blog and others. Thank you! Teri

  8. What a really informative post Teri.

    I own a dehydrator and have had it quite a few years but I have been a little apprehensive in using it (it is still brand new). After reading this post, I will be getting it out tomorrow and setting up in my laundry, and then, let the dehydrating begin! I would prefer to do it naturally outdoors and I have asked my husband nicely to make a dryer for me. Hopefully I wont have to ask too many times lol! I dried parsley and thyme recently by our fireplace. It dried them out beautifully and I have put them in glass jars for storage. I did the same with breadcrumbs on trays on the top of the fireplace, it worked perfectly :)

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this subject, it has helped me so much.


    1. Tania, I'm so glad this post has inspired you to start dehydrating!! Marvelous!! You are off to a great start already though, by drying your herbs and breadcrumbs! Let us know what's on the dehydrator, please!! Teri

  9. Thank you Teri and Annabel ... this is a really great post that has lots of useful, practical info. I'm printing it out too and sharing with others about it. We need this kind of info!

    1. Patsi, Thank you for your comment! I'm so glad you will be sharing this information with others!!! Teri

  10. Dear Teri and everyone, I have really been drying much more lately even in winter. Hanging up my herbs to dry inside on my ladder works really well and they keep a good color.
    Mum always dried apple slices and mushrooms threaded on cotton and hung near the fire. They looked like garlands and then when dry went into jars. This is using the heat you have for free drying. Dried mushrooms are awesome to pop into casseroles.
    Now I use every bit of left over bread. After the oven has been on cooking something I throw any left over bread etc onto a tray and in it goes. The left over heat does most of the drying. I make croutons from neat bits and bread crumbs from messy odds and ends.
    Mum also made bread cases. Think what a vol au vent case looks like... so you cut crusts off left over sliced bread or use something to cut a circle. Grease a muffin tin. Press your bread in to line the muffin trays. Press them so they hold shape. Now dry them out. Not long in the oven does it. Once cold sit them out so they dry through. They look like hard little cups or vol au vents. Once dry stack them into tins or jars. These are great ... fill with tuna mornay, or mince or casserole left overs, or an egg and some bacon and re bake to cook the egg. Just as a little case for all kinds of things. Really lovely for children.
    In summer I am going to do sun dried tomatoes out in the sun. Our dry heat is perfect just like in Italy!
    Hilde has a lot of dried goods in her panty. She pointed out to me that they take up way less of your space. This is true. A big advantage.
    Thank you Teri. We all have heaps to learn and I am learning everyday! Love

    1. Annabel, I learned something from you! I had to look up what a vol au vent is! lol Great idea! I used to do this with biscuits and serve with a savory cream sauce but I like your fancy name better!! :)
      Hilde is so right! When I make my veggie powder, it condenses several jars into one. I also love how both you and your mom dry things! Creative and beautiful!

      Thank you again Annabel! Love, Teri

  11. Wonderful information, Teri. Thank you for taking the time to write it up and share it. Thank you, as always, Annabel, for your caring and sharing spirit and for your time.

    We do a lot of dehydrating normally. We have a ten tray stainless steel dehydrator, which works great for veggies and fruit; but honestly, I prefer to hang my herbs from the garden. They seem to have a lot more taste that way. In the previous house we had two fireplaces with mantles to hang them from; here I am trying to figure it out still.

    Dehydrating is a great way to go for people with limited space. It allows a lot of food to be preserved for cooking soups, stews, or snacks. I found a really good recipe for dehydrated apple pie, so tried it and it worked great.

    Thanks again, Teri, for sharing both the information and the photos. Great job!!

    1. Glenda, thank you! Would you mind sharing your dehydrated apple pie recipe?
      I do like to hang herbs also! Plus, it's quick and easy to just bundle and hang them! Teri

  12. Dear Teri,
    I feel like I've been to class! A good one, the kind where you love every bit of it and are disappointed when it's ended, LOL! I've only dried some herbs. You make this seem so doable. Ive often thought of veggie powder, onions and mushrooms. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!
    Thank you Annabel for bringing us together to learn!
    Lots of Love,
    Colette xxx

    1. Colette, LOL Thank you! You are doing a great job! Try bananas or apples first. :) Teri

  13. I dried some peas and beans today. Just the frozen ones from Coles (as they seem to be australian). They are between $2 and $3 per kg. In the dehydrator they took around 9 hours. The peas ended up with 250g weight and the beans 140g weight. I'm not sure if you can buy dehydrated beans anymore but suprise peas of the same weight are around $8. I am doing them to take camping as we will have very limited fridge space.


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