Monday, November 29, 2010

Dehydrating Celery

The week of Thanksgiving the local store put celery on sale. My hubby thought I was crazy as I walked up behind him carrying six bunches of celery, and so did a few other people in the store. LOL Little did he know that I would be going back for more.

Earlier in the year I dried my first batch of celery. Hand slicing at a quarter inch and carefully placing each piece flat and not touching on my trays. My back was killing me! All that work produced a pint of dried celery, but soon learned that dehydrated celery was a big plus as we were continually loosing fresh produce in our aging refrigerator. Every time I needed some it had gone soggy and a last minute run to the store was necessary.

Decided to try slicing my celery on an old meat slicer acquired at a garage sale. Washed the celery then adjusting the dial to a quarter inch slice... and it zoomed through the bunches! (First batch I picked all the leaves out, and regretted the loss of food later.) Placed the celery raw onto the trays and later vacuum sealed into canning jars when dry.

Second trip to the store for celery and for this batch I adjusted the cut a bit smaller but processed leaves and all. This time I wasn't so careful about spacing, tossing leaves and chunks on the trays, laying the celery flat with gloved hands. The dehydrator took a bit longer to dry with the chopped leaves included, but why waste food? My twelve shelf unit held five bunches of celery and filled 2/3 of a quart dried, but with the leaves it held four bunches and I filled a quart!

Third trip to the store on the last day of the sale. Yes, another batch of celery to dehydrate. This time I learned a neat lesson... Left my celery out at over Thanksgiving day and processed it the next day. Hey! It was Thanksgiving! Who had room in their refrigerator for anything besides leftovers? The following day I started the third batch which was now at room temperature. This time the celery retained a brighter green color when dried! The bunches that had been in the refrigerator had a yellower tint. Neat trick I'll be doing room temperature celery from now on.

Three batches later... hubby wondering if the house smelling of celery was ever going to end. Although I was feeling quite accomplished... Had two quarts and a pint of dehydrated celery, that were vacuum sealed for freshness. Just hoping they last till the next sale on celery. :) You know what I'll be doing then.

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