Drying forage for herbivores using a Dehydrator
Why use a Dehydrator?
When you remove the moisture from foods they keep for longer, and you don’t need to use any preservatives in the process. A dehydrator costs around £1 for 24 hours to run but most foods can be dried in 4-6 hours, equivalent to 25p per batch.
By dehydrating herbs, vegetables, grasses and fruit when there is a glut, you should have plenty for the winter months. Drying your own also means you’ll have dried forage that you could not buy in the shops.
My advice is to cut the vegetables into pieces that will dry evenly. I remove the leaves from the stalk of green vegetables and shave strips off of root vegetables. If you try to dry the entire leaf, either the leaf part will dry and shatter, or the stalk will be too damp.
I’d recommend quartering broccoli stems length-ways and then into thinner sticks. The instruction manual will tell you to blanch vegetables but you don’t need to do that when drying for forage.
Herbs, Leaves and Grasses
As these are most abundant during the summer months you can dry them in the sun. Most people won’t need to use the dehydrator during the summer. I only use the dehydrator for leaves when I want them to dry flat (most leaves will curl up when dried naturally).
Dandelion flowers are best dried in a dehydrator as they go to seed rapidly once picked.
You can make a soft green grass forage in the dehydrator that you pets will love you for. Your pets will benefit from the higher vitamin C and chlorophyll levels. Rabbits fed on a mainly grass diet miss out on these in the winter months.
Shop on Amazon for VonShef Dehydrators
Kale, carrot, apple & celery dried in the VonShef dehydrator.
Average price around £40
Drying vegetables and herbs reduces them from 90% moisture to 10% moisture. Vegetables with a high initial moisture content can be particularly disappointing. Cucumber, lettuce and celery, for example, will shrink to a tiny percentage of their original size.