17 October 2013

Green Stuff

By far this past year the best grower in my garden has been the silverbeet. It hasn't stopped growing for almost 12 months. I don't know whether it was because I picked a few leaves every day or the odd winter we've endured, but it has grown, and grown, and grown some more and even now it hasn't gone to seed.

The warm, wet days we've had for the last few weeks have given it a little boost and it's been growing faster than I have been able to cut and use it. And I need the spot for beetroot for summer.

So on Sunday, which was quite an odd day weather-wise, I picked all the silverbeet. Two huge washing baskets full of it. I was able to pull out the roots and turn the soil over for my beetroot.

But what to do with all that silverbeet? I offered some to Mum, but she has her own growing. I offered some to a friend for her father, but he is growing his own too. I had to do something with it. It wasn't going into the compost.

After a cup of tea and a think I decided to wash it and dry it.

Dried and powdered, those washing baskets of silverbeet won't take up much space and it will last on the shelf for at least twelve months. Then it's easy to add a couple of tablespoons to soups or stews or casseroles and the nutrition boost will do us all good and no one need know they're getting their serve of silverbeet.

Out came the dehydrator. Now I only have a little three tray dehydrator that I bought at Aldi a few years ago, but it does a great job. But three trays at a time was going to take a while to get through all this green stuff. Or so I thought.

Before I could even think of drying it, I had to wash it and make sure there were no slugs hiding anywhere (I evicted a few from their leafy homes as I picked it). The kitchen sink was way to small. The laundry sink was too small, so the bath it was.  Two washing baskets of silverbeet half fill a normal bathtub, just in case you were wondering.

Once it was all washed it needed to be dried. Even I realised it would take ages to put that much green leafy stuff through the salad spinner so I compromised. I took the mesh laundry bags, shoved the silverbeet into them, zipped them up and pegged them to the clothesline. Then I spun it around and around and watched the water fly out. I wish I'd taken a photo, anyone looking over the back fence would wonder what on earth was going on. Anyway, it worked, the end result was spun dry silverbeet.

To dry the leaves I ripped them off the stalks. It was easy, just by holding the stalk in my right hand and running my left hand down it, the green leaves came away. The stalks I composted, and was happy to do so.

Then into the dehydrator the leaves went. Three trays at a time. It took two days, but it's all done. Leaves were crisp and dry, and really small.  

By the time they were whizzed through the food processor two washing baskets of silverbeet had been condensed down to this.

Dried foods have a long shelf life and they don’t take up a lot of space. I love my freezer, but I also love my dehydrator. They both serve a purpose in maintaining my stockpile.

As well as over-loads of silverbeet, I regularly dry onions, kale, apples and tomatoes for easy long-term storage.

Do you dry foods? Do you use the oven or do you have a dehydrator? What foods do you dry?

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  1. Hi Cath, thanks for this post. I grew silverbeet 3 or 4 years ago, and was amazed at how it just kept growing and growing. I ate and froze silverbeet for 12 months or more. Amazingly though, it STILL comes up in my garden every year even though it is several years since I last planted it. Thanks for the idea of dehydrating it

  2. Cath, I would like to know how to dry then use various fruit and vegies,please. My deepfreeze cannot always cope with the abundance from the garden. I do not have a dehydrator.

  3. CATH, what a great idea for silver beet to dehydrate it, this hadn't occurred to me 😳 🤔, but I am sure going to be a convert, we're just getting set up for the dehydrator experience.


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