Is your freezer getting full of packages of frozen veggies? You can take those frozen vegetables that are taking up so much space and dehydrating them for long-term storage.
If you’ve recently gotten a dehydrator and just are too confused on what to start with, or are unsure about what is easy to do – try this. Dehydrate the frozen veggies you have in your freezer.
Why Frozen Vegetables are a great beginning dehydrator project:
- The vegetables have already been blanched.
- They’ve already been cut to perfect dehydrating size.
- They are ready to open and pop on a tray.
Vegetables that are in your grocer’s frozen food aisle are usually picked and flash frozen immediately after the blanching process. They aren’t on a corn cob, in a shell, needing to be processed in any way. Nor are they sitting in your basket growing weird sprouts or fuzz from not being attended to, waiting for you to figure out a way to cut, clean, and cook them.
You also want to maintain a good rotating inventory of freezer stock so that you aren’t sitting on fifteen bags of frozen veggies that you’ve forgotten about when you need more space to add water bottles for the upcoming power outage due to a hurricane or city shut-off. Sure, packaged veggies are already frozen, but they aren’t great insulators.
Really. This is super easy to do. Just don’t do any of the heavy cream based ‘sides’ or your own vegetables that may be heavy with butter or oil since dehydrating + oil isn’t food storage friendly.
Quick Tip #1 for Dehydrating: If you normally eat it cooked, blanch it before dehydrating. The easy part of doing frozen vegetables – they’ve already been blanched for you! So no need to do the big pot full of boiling water, tossing your prepared and cut up veg in for a minute, then putting them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process, etc. This is quick and easy!
Quick Tip #2 for Dehydrating Frozen Vegetables – if your package has been in your freezer a bit, you’ll likely have some ice crystals. Simply whack your package on the counter a few times to loosen up those nuggets. The ice will quickly evaporate in the dehydrating process. I usually have a nonstick dehydrator sheet on the bottom of my machine just in case of any dripping.
HOW TO DEHYDRATE FROZEN VEGETABLES
1. Open a pack of frozen vegetables.
2. Spread out on your dehydrator tray.
3. Set dehydrator to 125F.
4. Begin to check for doneness at the 6-hour mark. Some frozen vegetables dehydrate more quickly than others. If you are using a bulky mix of vegetables, you might want to pull out the fully dehydrated vegetables to let the bulky ones keep going.
5. Remove a few, allow to cool, and test for doneness. Add additional dehydrating time if needed.
► Tip: If you have larger chunks of vegetables (like okra or lima beans), you can separate them ahead of time and give them their own try. This will facilitate more even drying across the board.
How to Store Dehydrated Vegetables
- Allow produce to fully cool;
- Place in an airtight container and allow to condition — letting the relative humidity to even out between all pieces (most important for fruit which has a 20% moisture level ideal – see Point #6 on this post where I talk about how to use these humidity indicators in your produce). If you find condensation building in your jar, put everything back into the dehydrator and dry again.
- Package for storage. Whether you use vacuum sealed jars, vacuum sealed mylar bags, other airtight containers with moisture absorbers, or into long-term vacuum sealed bags/jars. Do not use zipper top bags as storage solutions for more than a few days as they are not airtight.
How to Use Dehydrated Frozen Vegetables
- Throw a few handfuls in a soup or stew. This will bulk up your vegetable quotient and you don’t have to prepare anything ahead of time. Make sure you add a little extra liquid to your stew for the dehydrated vegetables.
- Throw some into ramen, rice dishes, meatloaf, and other savory dishes just as with soups and stews. Make sure to rehydrate ahead of time (place in a bowl of boiling water for 20-40 min.), or add enough extra liquid into your dish to allow the produce to rehydrate during cooking;
- Create Just Add Water gift jars with soups or stews to give to friends or keep in your pantry.
- Grind it to make a vegetable powder that you can toss into things like meatloaf, any casseroles, curries, burgers, smoothies, etc., to bulk up your vegetable intake. Much like making a green powder that I do here. You can even add the vegetable powder to sour cream or soft tofu or yogurt to create a dipping sauce.
- Use the corn to grind and make cornmeal.
What Equipment Do I Need to Dehydrate Frozen Vegetables?
Here is the dehydrator that I use, though I’ve also used this one for years and loved it. I have this Food Saver for vacuum sealing my jars and use both the wide mouth and regular mouth attachments. If you’re a book person and would love to have a book in your kitchen full of awesome ways to dehydrate all kinds of foods and make meals from them, check out the Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook. You can find a list of other budget-friendly tools for your dehydrator here.
GIVE IT A TRY!
Go ahead. Give it a try. Go to your freezer and pull out those old, lumpy frozen vegetable bags and do something with them! Vegetables a little freezer burned? It’s okay. Fresh is always best, but in this instance, no one is ever going to know! And it’s SOOOOO easy!