I’ve been experimenting with drying foods recently, and today I’m sharing a meh moment, a salvaged snafu and a smash hit.
The meh moment comes with dried parsley. (“Meh” is an interjection signifying apathy, indifference or boredom; dried parsley is an almost tasteless but pretty accent to savory dishes of all sorts).
I used our food dehydrator to dry oodles of parsley growing in our garden. I picked it, I washed it, I removed all the stems, I placed it in the dehydrator and I waited 48 hours to dry it. It was tedious and the result is not the crumbly stuff I expected — it’s whole dried leaves. That might be prettier, I don’t know, but I’ve got a whole gallon bag of it. So far, I’ve used it in a vegetable soup and a tomato salad.
The salvaged snafu involves mulberries (“snafu” is military slang for Situation Normal All F***ed Up; mulberries are the fruit of the mulberry tree in my backyard). The tree doesn’t deliver fruit every year, but I’ve harvested enough to make two pans of mulberry crisp this year. The season is almost done, but I picked a couple dozen ripe berries this afternoon to dry with a pan of grapes (more on that in a minute). They dried for 2.5 hours in a 200-degree oven which, for the record, is too long.
The result cooked all the plump out of my small berries, but the crispy chip-like result reminded me of those dehydrated strawberries in Special K Red Berries cereal (only mine weren’t Purple Berries — they were real). Even devoid of all moisture, they were flavorful. I will try this approach again with the intention of using my dried mulberries in some sort of eccentric granola bar recipe.
The smash hit involves a bunch of wrinkly red grapes past their prime (a smash hit is a baseball reference to a home run and the red grapes were purchased with this Couscous Salad With Grapes and Feta in mind; it never happened). I should have eaten these grapes weeks ago, and today it was time to clear them out of the fridge.
Coincidentally, the latest issue of Food Network magazine mentioned drying grapes to make raisins. Brilliant solution! So I washed them, removed the stems, placed them on my well-seasoned stoneware cookie sheet (along with the mulberries there on the right), and baked them in a 200-degree oven for four hours.
They look just like raisins!
I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly, but I am reassured that Big Food Conglomerates haven’t started creating some sort of Frankenstein raisins in their factories.
I’m planning to use these fresh raisins (is that an oxymoron?) on a chicken salad this week. I’ll keep you posted if it’s as amazing at the lowly raisins.