Drying [verb] Definition: To preserve fruit, veg and herbs by letting them dry out or dehydrate at room temperature, in the sun, or in a low oven.

Ingredients

  • Fruit & Veg
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • A few sterilised jars
  • Lemon juice

Over to you… Tell us about your drying adventures on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with #schoolofveg or email us at schoolofveg@abelandcole.co.uk

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Method

1. Why? Dried fruit and veg make wonderful gifts and it’s an ace way to celebrate bumper harvests. Drying also intensifies the flavour.
2. What? Clementines, all citrus zest, courgettes, aubergines, apples, mushrooms, herbs, leeks, beetroot, tomatoes and more.
3. How? Slice your fruit or veg as thinly as possible. Halve or quarter tomatoes, then sprinkle with a little salt. Herbs can be left whole or finely chopped. Citrus zest can be finely grated or zested. For apples, squeeze over lemon juice to stop them browning.
4. Oven drying Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put your prepped fruit or veg in a single layer. Heat your oven to 50°C/Fan 30°C/Gas 0. Bake the fruit/veg for 1 hr. Turn the oven off and leave in overnight to finish drying. Store in a container for up to 1 year.
5. Tomatoes need more heat. Cook at 100°C/ Fan 80°C/Gas ¼ for 2-3 hrs till most of the moisture is gone (they’ll be semi-dried). Pack in sterilised jars. Cover with oil. Seal and store in a cool place for up to 6 months.
6. Courgettes and aubergines Slice as thinly as possible. Set a dry frying pan over a high heat. Once it’s smoking hot, add the veg (sprinkled with salt first). Cook till charred on both sides. Pack in jars as above.
7. Air drying Line a baking tray with a clean tea towel. Arrange your fruit, veg or herbs in a single layer and set in a warm, dry place till fully dried. Herbs are best dried this way.
8. Then? Dried apples make fabulous snacks and beautiful gifts. Dried clementines are stunning added to mulled wine. Turn dried beetroot into a powder using a spice or coffee grinder. Add to cakes or icing. Use dried leeks and mushrooms in soups, stews and risottos. Or turn into a powder and mix with herbs and salt to garnish dishes. Mix dried citrus zest with salt or sugar. Use in baking, as a garnish, or in cocktails. Dried tomatoes and courgettes make a perfect party nibble or sandwich filling.
9. Flavour matches... Apples are luscious if you dust a little ground cardamom over them before drying. Mushrooms are gorgeous dried with thyme and rosemary. Tomatoes rock if you add finely grated ginger before drying. Courgettes come alive with chilli flakes and cumin seeds added to the jar with the oil. Beetroot, once dried and powdered, is fun to pair with sugar and ground star anise. Sprinkle over iced cupcakes for wow factor.
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