This section is from the book "Save It For Winter.", by Frederick Fry Rockwell. Also available from Amazon: Save It For Winter; Modern Methods Of Canning, Dehydrating, Preserving And Storing Vegetables And Fruit For Winter Use, With Comments On The Best ... For Saving, And When And How To Grow Them.
While the drying of vegetables is a general term which applies to this method of keeping food products, regardless of the details of how the work is done, the newer terms of evaporation and dehydrating have come into use, and through common usage have come to express or stand for different methods of drying. In the following pages they are employed with more specific meanings, as follows:
This refers to the practice of sun drying, or drying by exposure to the sun.
Drying out the prepared product in the apparatus which has been prepared to utilize either sun heat, artificial heat, or air-blast.
This refers to the method of drying by artificial heat.
This refers to the method of removing the surplus moisture by artificial air-blast. The third term, however, often includes the second, as drying by a blast or current of air is more rapid where the air is heated. The air, however, is the chief agency in removing the moisture and the temperature used is usually much less than that where evaporation alone is done, as the air-current method naturally tends to keep the temperature down.
Dehydrating, or the new method of drying, has, like the newer methods in canning vegetables, brought the introduction of some newer terms which are not as yet universally known to the housewife. Some of these are as follows:
Getting the vegetables ready for drying by carefully sorting; discarding all that are old and tough or injured, carefully washing or scrubbing, etc.
Many vegetables and fruits need this preliminary treatment for drying or dehydrating as well as for canning.
Plunging into cold water after blanching, to start the skins or fix the color and flavor.
This is a very important part of fixing vegetables by the drying method. They must be cut into thin pieces or small parts to dry out evenly, were the attempt made to dry them in large sections, they would merely wilt or shrivel on the surface, while the interior would be little changed; in fact, one of the chief reasons for the existence of the skin on most fruits and vegetables is to prevent evaporation. The vegetables should be sliced thin enough, but not too thin-1/8 to 1/4 of an inch is about right. This will be thin enough to expose a large amount of surface to the air to dry, without giving a product that cannot be handled without sticking together and being in general "messy." when sliced too thin or cut into too small pieces the product is likely to lose its flavor and also fail to "come back" when re-soaked for use, so that it can be used to advantage in cooking.
Fig. 9 - The first step in preparing the product is to put it, after cleaning and cutting, in cheesecloth (or a wire basket) for "blanching".
Fig. 10 - It is then dipped into boiling water for the required time to blanch it.