The jar on the left in the photo above holds orangy yellow heirloom tomatoes that dried a pretty deeper shade of orange. Dried food , if it is going to be stored longer term, should be kept in a dark dry place. However, if you plan on using them within the year, they look beautiful stored on countertops and hutches....but out of direct light. The jar in the middle contains eggplant on the bottom and dried yellow squash near the top. And of course the jar on the right is filled with dried corn that was once fresh corn on the cob bought from a local farmer.The corn rehydrates well and tastes delicious with butter, salt and pepper! The corn, in particular, will last for years...especially if you pull out the air with either a FoodSaver V2244 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer, Black or oxygen absorbers Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage ....or some people use both. There are special attachments for drawing the air out of jars. Foods are most often dried in an oven or dehydrator but they can also be dried outside or even in the backseat of a car near the back window. Some people have made solar dryers. This is the dehydrator I like and use.
It's also fun and practical to grow and dry your own herbs. When you grow and dry your own, it is much more economical, fresher, and you know exactly what kind of soil and fertilizer was used. Herbs are fairly easy to grow and have many health benefits. The photo below shows the sage I was drying this year. Aren't the purple flowers gorgeous against the green?
Nettles are another superior herb/green for the health. I started a nettle patch ...oh...maybe three years ago now from just two little plants that a friend gave me from her patch. I now have enough to dry and last all winter. Nettles spread so if you plant them, put them in a spot where you can mow around them to keep them controlled. Imagine...a health-food weed! Nettles make a wonderful infusion/green drink that is basically free! The dried nettles can also be added to soups and stews...or even crumbled up fine into dishes like chili. They add great flavor and nourishment! Young nettles can be cooked from fresh nettles also...like spinach. But watch out...before they are dried or cooked they will sting! Wearing long sleeves, pants and gloves is a must when gathering nettles.
My most exciting project for this year was finally having enough elderberries from our own 3 year old bush to dry enough for making a medicinal tincture and with two jars left over of dried elderberries to add to herbal teas. The first photo shows our three year old bush, the next photo shows the berries and the third photo shows the elderberries soaking in alcohol which becomes our winter flu prevention.
The herb I was drying in the photo below is lemon verbena. I cook it with rice and add it to my herbal teas. It is very easy to grow!
There are many you tube videos on the subject of dehydrating. Check them out and join the fun!
If you can't wait to begin growing your own food to dehydrate.... Mountain Rose Herbs has all the herbs I have spoken of here and much much more.