Most moms are familiar with cans of vegetables and bags of frozen veggies, but you might not be aware of how convenient dehydrated vegetables can be. Dried vegetables don't require any special storage space like frozen foods do, and they can last for months in your pantry. While they're not useful for veggie trays or other places where fresh vegetables shine, dehydrated vegetables can be used in many dishes.
Unlike canned or frozen vegetables, dehydrated vegetables must be soaked in boiling water before being cooked, or the cooking time will be significantly longer. The amount of time you need to soak the veggie pieces depends on the size of the slices or cubes and the type of vegetable you want to cook. The time can range from 1/2 hour for smaller pieces such as peas or corn to 1 1/2 hours for tougher fibrous foods like beets. You can cook dried vegetables without soaking them first, but keep the other ingredients in mind in case they can't handle a longer cooking time.
The texture of cooked dehydrated vegetables is softer than fresh cooked vegetables because of the changes the plant cells go through with drying out and soaking. They aren't as palatable as side dishes on their own, but work well cooked in other foods. Add dried vegetables to soups, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes for the best results.
Take a variety of dried vegetables on your next family camping trip for easy storage and a good variety of healthy meals. Mix dried vegetables together in meal-sized recipes and store them in zip-top bags. When it's time to start cooking dinner, add them to the stock pot and relax by the fire. You'll have a tasty vegetable soup or chicken stew without any extra work.
Dehydrated vegetables may be more shelf-stable than frozen or canned varieties, but you'll still have the best quality if you store your veggies properly. Place the pieces of food into airtight plastic bags or sterilized glass jars. Seal the containers tightly to prevent any air or moisture from getting in. Label the dried food packages with the name of the food and the date it was dried and packaged. Store the containers in a cool, dark place and use the vegetables within 6 to 12 months.
Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.