|My recent foraging trip: Curly Dock Seeds, English Plantain, Curly Dock Leaves and Yucca Flowers.|
I have a secret. I am not very good with fresh vegetables. They have a tendency to rot in my fridge. I will put them in the vegetable drawer with great expectations and two weeks later I rediscover them only to end up in my compost bin. You would think someone interested in foraging and plants would be on top of this but, alas, it is not so. I have, however, discovered a way that I can easily preserve my greens and use them on a regular basis. While I do poorly at sauteing them when they are fresh, I am great at throwing a handful into spaghetti, chili or a crockpot of beans. Even my kids will eat them then.
If you have a dehydrator, then you should follow the directions of the dehydrator. I do not have one. I use my oven. Fortunately, it has a convection option which makes it easier, but you can also do it with bake though it may take longer. First, I pick, wash and cut up the greens.
|Curly Dock leaves ready for dehydrating.|
I then put them on a metal pizza pan that has small holes in it. I recently purchased mesh pizza pans on eBay that I think will work even better.
Turn your oven on to convection at 130 degrees. It takes between 3 to 4 hours for me to completely dehydrate greens. You should mix them up every hour.
Store in a jar and toss a handful into whatever you are cooking to add nutrition and a bit of flavor. I have found that greens lose some of their really strong flavors when you dehydrate them. I personally like that as it is easier to put into recipes. Also, if you are working with greens that are stringy, like plantain, it no longer is an issue once dehydrated. The leaves easily crumble. Remember to check the bottom of your oven after dehydrating for any stray dehydrated greens. It makes an unpleasant odor when you use it to cook with next. Guess how I know?
You can dehydrate most greens in this way. Curly Dock seeds should be destemmed and and rinsed in several changes of water and drained. I do not take the husk off of the seeds. Layer them on your pan and placed in a 170 degree oven until completely dried. Mix them up every hour or so. Once dried, I have found that a blender works the best to grind up for use in baked goods. However, certain grain mills would probably work better. My hand crank grain mill would have taken me all day to grind a few cups. I also tried my food processor which did basically nothing. In my experience, you can add two tablespoons of ground curly dock seed into most bread recipes without changing the flavor much and you add nutrition and fiber. There are recipes that use Curly Dock flour as a primary ingredient which I will share later.
|Adding dried watercress to pasta sauce. Yumm.|