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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dehydrating Carrots - Great for Soups, Salads and Toppings

The carrots are arriving in droves in the backyard, and at the Farmer's Markets.  Fresh carrots have so much more flavor that the "fresh" carrots that you buy in the store.  We usually make soups to preserve, and eat tons fresh, but there are still lots left over, so I freeze and dehydrate them for winter.  The dehydrated carrots hold most of the flavors of fresh carrots, and they make a wonderful addition to many soups, stews, and casseroles.  I even add them to veggie lasagna for a bit of color.  Dehydrated carrots can also add some crunch to a fresh salad, or can be sprinkled in a Caesar Chicken Roll-up.  Carrots top the "Favorites" list in this house, so they are used in many different dishes.

Carrots do need a small bit of preparation before being placed on the dehydrator, and how they are prepared depends on what they are going to be used for later.  If they are for soups and stews, you will want sliced carrots, and for salads, toppings or veggie lasagna, you will want shredded carrots.

Once you have decided how you are going to prepare them, you can get to work.  I usually do both shredded and sliced at the same time, because I only have two herb tray inserts for my dehydrator, and that leaves lots of room for sliced carrots as well.

To begin, I clean and peel my carrots, and then shred some of them in a food processor, enough to fill two trays in my dehydrator.  If you do not have herb inserts you can use cheese cloth.

Shredded Carrots

After I shred enough to fill two trays, I slice the rest of the carrots, or just enough to fill the rest of the trays.  Carrots can be sliced and then refrigerated for a day or so, if you are doing large quantities, but carrots are known for losing flavor fast in the fridge, so I try to cut only what is needed for one day.

Sliced Carrots

I try to slice the carrots 1/8th of an inch thick, and I like to use a knife.  The mandolin is not so good with carrots, and with a knife I can cut them at an angle so that skinny carrots will be a bit longer.

After the carrots are cut and shredded, I put the shredded carrots in a strainer, and set them aside until I am done processing the slices.  I put the sliced carrots in my veggie steamer, and drop them into a pot of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes.  I use the steamer because it is easy to remove the slices without damaging them.  I just pull up the steamer and place it in a bowl to drain.

Carrot Slices in Boiling Water

Drained Carrot Slices

To finish processing the shredded carrots, I place in the sink the strainer containing the shredded carrots, and pour the boiling water that was used to blanch the carrot slices, slowly over all the shredded carrots, making sure that they all get a good dousing.

  Shredded Carrots ready for a good dousing!

Once this is done, both sets of carrots are ready to be placed in the dehydrator.  I like to put my shredded carrots on the herb trays, but cheese cloth will work just as well.  Make sure that you spread them out, but do not worry about keeping every shred separate.  I just scatter them thinly around the trays.

Shredded Carrots on the Trays

I place the sliced carrots on the regular trays, and this is also why I like to cut them on an angle to make them a bit longer.  The very skinny carrots, when sliced without an angle, would fall through the larger openings on the regular trays.

Sliced Carrots on the Trays

I set the dehydrator at 135°F, and start checking back in about 8 -10 hours.  Carrots dry quicker than some other veggies because there is less water content.  Depending on the thickness, they may take a few extra hours. This is a great project to set up before heading to bed, and by the time the kids are off to school the next morning, the carrots are about done.

Dehydrated Shredded Carrots

Dehydrated Sliced Carrots

Once the carrots are done, I place them in a zip close bag and put them in the pantry in an air tight container.  I can use them for a couple months.  The slices do re-hydrate nicely, and I use them in many different recipes.  They are also a part of my "Instant Soup".  If you would like to read about making your own, check out my post "Powdered Beef Stock - Making Instant Soup with homemade Beef Bouillon.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for making this blog. i'm going to use several of your tutorials for storing food for my family :)