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When you have a garden and you love growing things (or at least attempting to grow things), you get sad at the thought of any of your hard work going to waste.

For example yesterday, I had to trim back my parsley because it had gotten too big and you don’t really want to eat the old, big stalks. I didn’t want to just throw them away in the swamp so I decided to be completely ridiculous and put them in a vase like flowers. They were a little droopy when I put them in but after sitting in some fresh water for a few minutes they stood straight up like they were a bouquet of flowers. I was pretty pleased with myself because it’s a little bit of green inside, smells good, and I don’t feel wasteful.

However, we can’t do that with all the herbs and fruit we grow. Also, we are physically unable of eating all our produce as we grow it. It comes too fast and abundant and will perish when we even attempt to save it for too long.

So last summer we made the best investment for someone living in a humid climate. We bought a dehydrator. If you live in an arid climate you can use the sun and time to dry out your herbs and peppers but for us, we didn’t have that luxury. Plus, we really wanted to dry a lot of the peppers and herbs for cooking. We already loved crushed red pepper but we knew we wanted to expand. For example, last year we dried anaheim, jalapeno, cayenne, and poblano peppers…YUM!

After scoring a great deal on a Nesco from Amazon, we quickly realized it was money well spent. Now, we get requests for more of our dried crushed pepper because it’s deliciously yummy and provides great heat to food. Not really spicy but the kind of heat that builds in your mouth and makes you happy. My favorite kind!

Now I aspire to be more like my favorite spice shop in Ann Arbor, MI – The Spice Merchants – and practice making my own spice blends. 🙂

Here’s our Nesco dehydrator. Looks fancy but you just plug in and pick the temperature and it blows hot air down through the trays. I like that we can take out or put in what trays we need.

Then I go out to the garden and pick some herbs.

Parsley is arranged on a layer. I usually space out more but there was a lot to dry out.

Oregano! You can tell I don’t bother to pick off the leaves until after it’s dried.

And honestly, that’s it. Once you put it on the layers, you turn it on and wait. I check it every 6-10 hours. Instead of weeks to dry out, most things dry out in under 24 hours and it’s not that noisy at all.

A good investment for sure! I realize there’s a lot more you can do with a food dehydrator but I’m just trying to learn as I go and make sure we don’t let our fruits, herbs, and vegetables go to waste.

Do you ever use your dehydrator for anything else (dried fruit, jerky, etc)?