Country Living Series

Monday, September 21, 2020

Dehydrating onions

Boy howdy, did the onions do well this year in the garden.
Now that it's time to harvest, I'm tasked with preserving this abundance. To this end, I decided to dehydrate most of them. Because there are so many onions, I'm harvesting just one bed at a time so I don't get overwhelmed.
I trimmed off all the greens...
...and weighed out 4.5 lbs., which I knew from previous experience is about all my six-tray dehydrator can handle at a time.
Then I started chopping the onions, a very weepy process.
Spreading the onions on the trays. I made sure to use the mesh screen inserts in the trays so smaller pieces wouldn't fall through.
Then -- and this is no joke -- I put the dehydrator outside. Believe me, the smell of onions would have knocked us out of the house otherwise. As it was, the entire yard smelled of onions during the drying process.
The booklet that came with the dehydrator suggested eight hours of drying at 125F. After some experimentation, I bumped it to 135F for ten hours, rotating the trays at the five-hour mark. But still, the onions felt a bit leathery as I peeled them off the mesh. So I consulted my faithful food preservatin bible...
...which recommended pasteurizing the dried onions in the oven at 175F for 10 minutes or so. I upped this to 15 minutes. I was delighted with the results. The pasteurization process took away the leathery texture and made the onions nice and brittle.
Four and a half pounds of onions yields a quart and a half of dried onions.
As I type this, I'm on my third batch of onions and have finished one garden tire's worth of harvest. I'm in for a long haul of drying onions, but when this is all finished, I will have gallons of dehydrated produce. God bless harvest time!

15 comments:

  1. When I dehydrated Vidalia onions, I had to leave them in the house. But, it was a sweet smell. I loved it.

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  2. I like to dry the tops separately too. Turn out nice dark green and save well.

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  3. When you said you pasteurized, did that just mean that you upped the temp and did it for 10 minutes in the dehydrator or did you put on trays in the oven. I’ve been contemplating a dehydrator....just not sure what type or number of trays to get, etc. thank you for clarification.....

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    1. I put the onions in the oven on cookie sheets. Thank you, I clarified that in the post.

      - Patrice

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  4. Did you get accepted to write some more books for Love Inspired? Looking forward to more. Jo in Wa.

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    1. My next Love Inspired book (entitled "Amish Baby Lessons") comes out in March. I'm waiting on a contract for a third book, and have three more manuscripts in the pipeline. It's exciting!

      - Patrice

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    2. Glad to hear that. Finished your first last night, liked it alot! More substance regarding Amish faith than most i've read. It's more than kapps and buggies, which comes through.

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    3. Glad to hear that. Finished your first last night, liked it alot! More substance regarding Amish faith than most i've read. It's more than kapps and buggies, which comes through.

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  5. I have a a kitchen machine which has a slicer which slices very thin. I cut the onion in about four pieces, works so quickly! Would this be suitable for the dehydrator?

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    1. Absolutely. In fact, most people dehydrate slices rather than chopped onions. Me, I use more chopped onions than slices, so this process works better for me.

      - Patrice

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  6. Good work. I have 8 trays for my dehydrator because I bought some extras. I am thinking about drying the components for salsa since I don't have a pressure canner yet,and there is not enough left in the garden to can anyway. I used most of my chili peppers to can cowboy candy and hot pepper relish.

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  7. Will they not dehydrate properly in the oven alone? In fact, isn't the oven a bigger and better dehydrator? Have you ever tried it in competition with the dehydrator? One machine enters, one machine goes to the cornfield, and it's a good thing.

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    1. I might be able to dehydrate them just in the oven alone, but as it is I couldn't fit more than twice the amount of onions into our oven than already fits into the dehydrator. Plus the smell would knock us out of the house. Plus I don't want the oven running for ten hours at a time. Overall, I prefer to use the dehydrator for its stated purpose.

      - Patrice

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  8. How do you get your onions to grow so well? Do you add anything to the soil? Thanks.

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    1. I don't add anything to the soil except another layer of compost every other year or so. The beds were originally filled with a nice mixture of topsoil, compost, and a bit of sand, and it's worked very well ever since.

      - Patrice

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