Although the techniques for drying vegetables aren't as precise as those for freezing or canning, there's definitely a right way to go about it. As with all preserving methods, you must always begin with the freshest and highest-quality vegetables to insure good results. Cleanliness and sanitation when handling and preparing the food are also crucial. And, though drying vegetables isn't difficult to do, it demands plenty of careful attention. The vegetables must be stirred, the temperature checked, and tray positions changed about every half hour. That means you must be at home during the whole time it takes to dry your vegetables.
Speed is of the essence when preparing foods to dry. For best results, vegetables should be blanched, cooled, and blotted dry within a very short time of harvesting. And you must never interrupt the drying process once it's begun. You can't cool partly dried food and then start it up again later, because there's a chance bacteria, molds, and yeasts will find a home in it. Always schedule your home drying for a day when you're certain your work won't be interrupted.
Harvest only as much food as you can dry at one time. Using a kitchen oven, that's about four to six pounds; an electric dryer or dehydrator can handle up to 14 pounds of fresh produce. Wash and drain the vegetables, then cut and prepare as the recipe directs. Depending on the size of the vegetables and the dryer, that could mean slicing, grating, cutting, or simply breaking the food into pieces so it will dry evenly on all sides. Remember that thin pieces dry faster than thick ones. If you have a choice between French-cutting and crosscutting green beans, remember that the French-cut beans will dry faster.
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