Cold nights are in the forecast for northeast Ohio and that means it’s time to harvest everything you can off your frost-sensitive garden plants. What are you going to do with your end of season bounty?
There are many ways to preserve the crops you can’t eat right away, including freezing, canning, pickling, and fermenting. Dehydration is one of my favorite preservation methods because it’s fun, easy, and the final product doesn’t take up a ton of space in your fridge, freezer, or pantry shelves.
For bigger projects, like drying my basil plants (which are the size of small bushes by this point), I pull out the behemoth. This dehydrator was a gift from my dad, who was a man of excess when it came to spoiling his kids.
For smaller projects, like this following meager chile pepper harvest at Old Trail Farm, a needle and some string is all you need. We used embroidery floss because it’s a little heftier than thread.
Just run the string through the tops of the peppers like this:
and hang them up like this:
Be sure the room is well-ventilated and not too hot or cold – any temperature you feel comfortable at should be fine. We think these make a cheerful decoration on our classroom wall. A ristra, like this one from the Hatch Chile Store, is an even fancier arrangement you can make if you have an abundance of peppers to dehydrate.
Once the peppers are fully dried, you can rehydrate them as needed for recipes or powder them to use as a seasoning. At my house, we use chile powder to make enchilada sauce. Here’s a great recipe if you’d like to give it a try!