Preserving Bits of This and That – Part 2: Dehydration

Now that milking has begun, and therefore cheese making has begun, I’m starting to think about what sorts of things I can add to chevre for flavor. My all time favorite is still fresh dill, garlic, salt and a pinch of sugar but I’ve been experimenting with other flavors as well. Most of the time I use at least a few dried ingredients, especially garlic and onion. Yes, you can use fresh raw onion and garlic but in my opinion the flavor is too strong and harsh. I much prefer the flavor of dried garlic and onion which is much more like to roasted or cooked garlic and onion than raw. So yesterday I chopped up an onion and some garlic that I had previously roasted, covered in olive oil and then froze and put them in my dehydrator.





I didn’t take any pictures of them before dehydrating, but you can probably use your imagination. I dried them on a low heat setting for a long time (overnight). If you don’t dry them long enough they will create a mushy paste when you try to grind them rather than a powder.

I use an old coffee grinder for grinding my dried herbs/spices/etc. It works really well but one my complaint is that its difficult to clean. When grinding garlic and onion its really important that I get it VERY clean before using the grinder for something milder like herbs or something that would taste horrible with garlic like citrus rind.


Powdered dehydrated lime zest and lime simple syrup

Since I had the dehydrator running anyway, I decided to throw a few other things on to dry (and cleaned out the fridge and fruit basket as well). We had a bag of limes that were starting to get some age on them so I cut off the outer rind and dried it, and then used the juice to make syrup. I also found a bunch of carrots in the fridge that needed to be used up so I sliced them up really thinly with a vegetable peeler and dried them up. They made a really pretty orange powder. This may seem like a weird thing to make, but carrot powder actually adds a nice bit of depth to herb and spice mixes. When a little is used in a mix you don’t really taste “carrot”, it just makes the mix taste kind of “gardeny”. It’ll be interesting to see how the bright orange color affects the color of the cheese!


Lime zest, orange zest, carrot powder, garlic powder, onion powder

Finally, I chopped up some left over fish that had been in the fridge just a little bit too long and dehydrated it. Anytime we have left over cooked meat I toss the scraps in the dehydrator and it makes the best dog treats. Both dogs have been very attentive and well behaved today — all I have to do is shake my little mason jar of treats and they come running! 2015-05-20 14.51.37 Oh and I almost forgot. I found a jar of bread and butter pickles in the fridge that was nearly empty and taking up valuable shelf space so I decided to experiment a bit and see what would happen if I dried them. They have the consistency of gummy bears but taste like pickles and I can’t decide if they are delicious or disgusting. DSC_0408

Homemade Garlic Powder

Earlier this summer our friend Zhan Ye gave us several heads of garlic that he and his father grew in his garden. We have been enjoying using it in lots of different ways (like in pesto!) but one of my favorite uses of garlic is in chevre. The only things is…I don’t like fresh garlic in my chevre. The spiciness of it is just too much for me; I prefer garlic powder which has a milder and sweeter flavor more like cooked garlic. Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that I take my fresh, homemade chevre and my garden fresh herbs and then I go and sprinkle a bunch of commercial garlic powder on it which contains who knows what preservatives and likely comes from half way around the world. It just seems a bit wrong, somehow! So I looked into making my own garlic powder and guess what? Its really easy! It would be even easier if I had a dehydrator, but I don’t, so I used the oven instead.

  1. Peel a bunch of garlic and slice it into very thin slices. Its best if they are all about the same thickness so that they will all dry at the same rate. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Lay your slices out in a single layer on some aluminum foil on a baking tray.
  3. Turn your oven down to its lowest setting. Mine is 170 which is still pretty hot, some ovens will go down to 120. I was worried that at 170 my oven might cook (and burn) rather than just dry so I left the oven door propped open a little bit with a wooden spoon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Let the garlic slices dry out for several hours. I think mine took about 4 hours. If you have to leave the house or go to bed during this time just turn the oven off and shut the door, leaving the garlic inside. The heat retained in the oven will keep working until you come back and turn it back on!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Once the slices are 100% dry and not at all bendy, use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind them into powder. Store in an airtight container*



See how simple? And if I had a real dehydrator and spice grinder it would be even easier! Discovering this “trick” makes me want to dry all sorts of things now. Making up mixes to flavor my chevre is just the tip of the iceberg….




*I only made a small quantity and plan on using it up really quickly. If you don’t plan on using it immediately I’d suggest storing it in the freezer. Even though it has been dehydrated there may still be some oils left in the garlic that could go rancid over time, especially if any extra humidity soaks into the powder. The reason that dried spices from the store last forever is due to the preservatives that are mixed in!