Tip #2 – Make the most of your harvest - Get a dehydrator!
Dried Habanero Peppers
Since I have gotten into the whole gardening thing, every year I am absolutely overloaded with herbs and peppers. I always go a little overboard on the planting – so I am left with more than I can use or give away. The first year I had my garden I let a lot of herbs go to waste, which is when I decided to purchase a dehydrator. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, you’d be surprised how much some can cost, but I found a cheap suitable one online with plenty of racks with plastic trays. Plus, a dehydrator can be used for so many different purposes like making jerky, fruit rolls, and dried fruit, so it was easy to justify the purchase cost.
Dried Mixed Hot Pepper Flakes
I started out only with chopped herbs, but the process was so effective that I began to experiment with surplus peppers from the garden…and in turn discovered how easy it was to make my own pepper flakes! My boyfriend is a HUGE chili pepper head, so every year I stock him up on mixes of all the hot peppers we grew that season, and it lasts him through the winter until we’re planting again. This year I grew 12 different types of hot peppers, some of which we even dried whole. So, if you’re interested in some serious heat, why use chili powder when you can use chili pepper powder?
Dried Chili Peppers
Whether drying herbs or peppers, I first puree them in a food processor if chopping, then spread on the plastic trays (or racks if whole) in the dehydrator. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but actually the “kitchen gadgets” do the work for me. The food processor creates only a little clean up and is very quick, with no chopping effort at all. So about 3 times during the summer I will harvest herbs from my garden and dry them in batches, creating enough herbs and peppers to keep my spice cabinet stocked until the following year. Try drying your own herbs, or even fresh herbs from the supermarket, and taste the difference. The flavor is so much more acute since the herbs are so fresh, and it also costs very little, for me virtually nothing! My herb plants grow like wildfire each year, so for the cost of only one pack of seeds per variety, I have either fresh or dried herbs year round for five years now and counting. Talk about economizing!