Gift Worthy: DIY Dried Herbs And Spices
Here’s a DIY food gift you probably haven’t considered before: Dried herbs and spice blends. Your dehydrator can be used to dehydrate everything from parsley to garlic to onion. The herbs and spices can be used on their own or combined to make unique spice blends.
Have you ever dried your own herbs, spices or vegetables?
I’m relatively new to the art, but it’s quickly becoming a fun and practical hobby.
This Christmas, I’m giving away an assortment of dried herbs, spices, and spice blends to friends and family. Spoiler alert!
Why Dry Your Own Herbs, Spices, And Veggies?
- Drying your own herbs, spices, and vegetables is easy if you have a dehydrator. But there are other methods of dehydrating, including the oven and microwave.
- In my opinion, homemade dried herbs and spices are so much better than the little jars or bags you buy at the grocery store.
- Home-dried spices are fresher – and in many cases, they’re also more potent.
- You can dry SO MANY THINGS, from parsley to dill to tomatoes to bananas – and so much more.
- You can experiment and make your own spices mixes, like a taco seasoning or garden veggie mix.
Dried Herbs, Spices, And Vegetables Make A Great Gift
I love giving homemade gifts for Christmas, but often end up giving sweets.
There’s definitely nothing wrong with giving homemade sweets (like cookies or candy) as a gift, but if you’re looking for a lighter, longer-lasting, and more versatile homemade gift, consider drying your own herbs and spices.
How To Dehydrate Green Tomatoes
If you have an abundance of green tomatoes left at the end of tomato season, dehydrate them!
Dried tomato powder can be used in soups, casseroles, meatloaf, meatballs, and pretty much any savory dish.
- Wash tomatoes and remove stems
- Slice into 1/4″ thick pieces
- Place in a single layer on dehydrator trays
- Dehydrate at 140F until tomatoes are dried and crisp
- When cool, transfer to a food processor and pulse until it reaches a powder consistency
To make the tomato herb spice mix pictured above, use 1/2 dried tomato and 1/2 dried parsley.
How To Make Onion Powder
My favorite vegetable to dehydrate is onions.
I use onion powder all the time in everything from soup to casseroles to salsa.
Homemade onion powder made with yellow onions is much sweeter than the typical onion powder you buy at the grocery store.
Warning: When you dehydrate onion in a dehydrator, your kitchen will smell pretty strong, until most of the water content is out of the onions.
- Cut the ends off of onions
- Remove skin
- Slice into 1/4″ slices and lay in a single layer on dehydrator trays
- Dehydrate at 125F until onions are completely dried and crunchy
- When cool, transfer to a food processor and pulse until onions reach a powder consistency
How To Make Garlic Powder
Making your own garlic powder by dehydrating garlic cloves is easy if you keep a couple of things in mind:
- Buy ready-peeled garlic cloves: I bought three packages of peeled garlic from the grocery store. All in all, I used 122 garlic cloves to make one glass spice container of garlic powder. It seems excessive, but this garlic powder is potent!
- Slice the garlic thin: You’ll want to slice each garlic clove into 4 or 5 pieces. Don’t dehydrate whole cloves – it will take a very long time!
- Peel garlic cloves
- Slice each clove into 4 or 5 pieces
- Place sliced cloves on dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 125F
- Turn off when garlic is completely dehydrated and crunchy
- When cool, transfer to a food processor and pulse until garlic reaches a powder consistency
Please note: This garlic powder is much more potent than the garlic powder you buy at the grocery store. So you can use much less and still get great flavor!
How To Dehydrate Celery
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Make your own celery powder through dehydration!
Celery powder can be used in soups, sauces, meatloaf, meatballs, and other savory dishes.
You can also combine celery powder with salt to make celery salt. Simply place both in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fine consistency.
- Separate leaves from celery stalks – both can be dehydrated
- Slice each celery stalk into 4 thin pieces
- Place celery leaves on one dehydrator tray, and place stalks on the others
- Dehydrate at 140F until dried and crisp
- Place cooled celery in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a powdery consistency
Avoid Food Waste: Dehydrate Instead Of Throwing Away
Before I go on vacation or leave town for an extended amount of time, I inventory my fridge to find out what perishable foods I can dry:
- Tomatoes (especially firm green tomatoes)
- Bell peppers
- Fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, etc.)
Instead of throwing almost-expired foods away, dehydrate them!
When it comes to deciding what to dehydrate, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are many other foods that can be dehydrated. Just keep in mind the more moist the food item, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
Do I Need A Dehydrator To Dry Veggies & Herbs?
While technically there are other ways to dehydrate vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices, a dehydrator is the easiest, fuss-free way to do the job.
I would highly recommend investing in a dehydrator if you plan on doing a higher volume of dehydrating.
But if you only plan on dehydrating once or twice, you have two options:
- Oven-dry: Wash vegetables & herbs. Slice vegetables thin. Herbs can be dried whole/intact. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake on low (180F) for 2 to 4 hours. Herbs are ready when they crumble in your hand with gentle pressure. Vegetables are ready when they are crunchy.
- Microwave-dry: Wash vegetables & herbs. Place herbs on a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 30-second intervals until dry (herbs will crumble in your hand). The process is the same for fruits and vegetables. Just slice thin, place on a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave in 30-second intervals until dry.
There you have it: A complete guide to dehydrating herbs, spices, and vegetables in a dehydrator, oven or microwave – to make DIY dried spices and blends for the holidays!