Dehydration is an easy and cost-effective way to make fruits and vegetables last longer, but what about Microgreens? Growing them is a quick process, and once they are harvested, you can store them fresh for up to two weeks. You may find yourselves having more microgreens than you can eat and don’t want them to go to waste. There are ways to make your microgreens last longer.
Can microgreens be dehydrated? Certainly! In fact, dehydrating or drying microgreens is a great way to preserve the nutritional value and make them last longer. Dehydrating your microgreens allow you to use them in a variety of ways. Plus, it is an affordable way to extend the life of your produce.
Microgreens are one of the most flexible foods that we can consume, and they are used in many types of cuisine. The problem, however, is that they may go bad before we can eat them all. But microgreens can last longer with a few steps.
Continue reading to learn more about dehydration, different methods, including how you can do it yourself at home.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is one of the oldest forms of preserving food. It’s a way to conserve the food by extracting water. It’s done by placing the food in an environment where the heat makes the water evaporate. When drying food, it eliminates the growth of bacteria and mold, and therefore they can be used for a long time.
Dehydration is a method that has been practiced by people in the Middle East and Asia already 12000 BC. Using high heat from fires or even the sun has been commonly practiced throughout history. Today we can use electric food dehydrators that help to speed the drying process and ensure more consistent results.
How can you use dehydrated microgreens?
Same as with other types of vegetables, by dehydrating your microgreens, you are increasing the ways that you can use them.
Some of the most popular ways that microgreens are used are by creating a powder that you can put in different smoothies or soups. They can also be stored as a flake similar to traditional dry herbs that can be added to salads or be used as seasonings in various recipes.
Some great ways to use dehydrated microgreens are:
- Sprinkle over soup
- Use as ingredients for risotto, paellas, casseroles, and stews
- Mix in tomato sauce and add some extra taste
- Blend in smoothies
- Crispy topping for baked potatoes
- Seasoning for what you put on the BBQ
Fresh microgreens are jampacked with nutrition, and they hold up to 40% more than their full-grown counterparts. As you dehydrate, you will experience that the flavor is not as intense. You may also find that there will be some nutrient loss, but they will still be amazingly healthy. And it’s a great way to extend the shelf-life.
What are the benefits of dehydration?
The main benefit of dehydration is that it makes your microgreens last longer. It’s a great way to preserve them because it removes moisture, which is the main reason why foods go bad. Without moisture, they will not create fungi and bacteria.
It’s also very convenient to use dehydrated microgreens when you are out hiking or traveling. Removing the humidity makes the microgreens much lighter than fresh veggies, and you can use it as a snack or add as taste and nutrition to other meals. They are lightweight, require less space, and you don’t need to pack them in a cooler.
How do you dehydrate microgreens?
Basically, dehydration is the process of removing moisture/water from the plant/food, helping to preserve it for storage.
There are many different methods used for dehydration. They vary in their simplicity and, depending on the type of food you are drying, in their effectiveness.
We will go through three ways you can do it at home in a simple way:
- Using a Dehydrator
- Using a household oven
- Using the sun
How to dehydrate microgreens with a dehydrator
Thanks to modern technology, dehydrating microgreens is not only a quick and easy process, but anyone can do it. The easiest way is to use a dehydrator. They come in different sizes, brands, speeds, and pricing levels. Pick one that works for you. Once you have a dehydrator, you are ready to start!
Prepare the dehydrator
Just like using an oven, it’s recommended to turn on your dehydrator to warm up to the required temperature before adding the microgreens. While it’s getting heated up, you can make all the preparations.
Prepare your microgreens
Before you place your microgreens in the dehydrator, wash them and ensure that they are clean from any medium (such as soil). Remove the stems and just use the part of the microgreens you want to dry.
Place your microgreens between sheets of paper towel to dry. The less moisture there is on the leaves, the less time they’ll need in the dehydrator.
Get it started
Make sure you have set the right temperature. Depending on the type of dehydrator you are using, the temperature and time required may vary. Always check the guidelines/manuals to ensure that it’s prepared for microgreens. If there is no guidance for microgreens, you can refer to herbs and set the temperature just slightly higher.
In general, you would use a temperature of 100F to 130F.
Spread the microgreens in a single layer in your dehydrator and make sure they don’t overlap. You have to consider that it will take a couple of hours for it to be ready. If you see that the microgreens are still soft, you can run them for a while longer. Once they are done, you will find that you have some crunchy microgreens in reduced size.
If you use your dehydrator between two and three times, you should be able to fill a quart-sized jar quickly. The total volume you will end up with is depending on the size of your dehydrator. It’s not unlikely that you will have to dedicate at least a full day to have a suitable amount.
The final result
You can consume your dried microgreens as they come out from the dehydrator, or you can turn them into powder or flakes. To do this, you simply put your dried leaves in a blender. You keep it running until you get the result you want. If you don’t have a blender, you can also lightly crush the dry leaves until you are happy with the outcome.
It takes quite a lot of dehydrated plant matter to make enough powder. Keep in mind that food in general shrinks significantly as it loses moisture.
Different types of dehydrators
As mentioned, they are different types of dehydrators. If you are serious about regularly dehydrating your microgreens and other vegetables, you may want to invest in one which gives you better efficiency and control. There are also more economical options which work perfectly well.
Regardless of your choice, there are different features you should consider before making your buy:
- It should have a good fan that enables your food to dry evenly throughout the entire dehydrator.
- Automatic shut-off timer is a feature to ensure that you are left with the perfect result depending on the type of you are dehydrating.
- Getting the right-sized equipment depending on how much you are planning to use it.
How to dehydrate microgreens with an oven
If you don’t want to invest money but don’t mind spending time, you can use your household oven. Compared to using an electrical dehydrator it’s not as efficient, however, it can get the job done. It will require a longer time, and you will find that it’s more challenging to control the heat and hence the result.
Set the right temperature
Preheat your oven to the lowest heat, ideally at 140F. This will make the microgreens crisp and tasty. If it cannot be set that low, it must be less than 180F. Higher temperatures can cause your microgreens to cook and become burned, rather than dried.
Remove the stems and wash the leaves. Always remove as much water as you can before you put them in the oven. This will reduce the drying time. Place the leaves on a tray on baking paper, evenly spread out. Don’t stack them on top of each other.
Ready for the oven
Many ovens won’t give an even heat, and that can cause some areas to dry faster than the others. What you can do to ensure that all microgreens are dried evenly is to rotate the tray.
Using the oven can take anywhere from five to ten hours to fully dehydrate. As there is no manual, you have to check regularly to see when you believe they are ready. The results should be completely dry and crunchy microgreens that have reduced in size.
Using an oven is not as efficient as using a dehydrator because it requires more attention. Always monitor the drying process regularly, and you will find what works best using your oven.
How to dehydrate microgreens with the sun
This is the oldest method used, and it takes the longest. This is also the most unreliable way to dry microgreens. You can use the sun to dry your microgreens if you live in a climate where the sun is shining throughout the entire day, and the air is dry. The temperature should ideally have reached 86F before you can make use of it.
You need an area where you can guarantee that the leaves are left only with a breeze of wind.
Start by preparing the same way as when using a dehydrator or oven. Wash your microgreens and remove the stems. Dry the leaves to the extent that is possible, as this will shorten the drying time.
Place your microgreens on a rack in a single layer. Place it in a sunny area and cover it with a mesh to avoid bugs or any other unwelcome insects.
Keep them under control
You need to continuously monitor your rack and circulate to ensure it gets an even amount of heat. If it tends to get humid at night, bring the rack inside, and when the morning sun comes up, put them back out.
Be aware that this method can take anywhere between 3 days to a week. Once you find that they are dehydrated, bring the rack inside and let them cool down before you use them.
How can I create my own dehydrator?
If you are not interested in investing in a dehydrator, you can build one on your own. To make your own dehydrators can range from extremely easy to the very complicated. Just a little tool and project knowledge is needed to make very efficient air dehydrators.
Building an Air Dehydrator
The air dehydrator can be built with some wood, wood screws, a saw, some glass or plexiglass, and black paint. You can find free resources online on how to create your own dehydrator.
The principle of air dehydration is simple. Hot air is drawn into a chamber with housing racks where your microgreens have been laid, removing the moisture from them with heat and convection of air. No convection motors are necessary as the design of air dehydrators uses the heating of the air to create airflow.
This home method is doable if you live in moderate or temperate climates. The average cost of even the most elaborate home-built air dehydrators is much less than buying one new.
See this resource to build your own.
How to store dehydrated microgreens
Once you have dehydrated your microgreens it’s essential to store them well to make them last longer. Be sure to protect them from heat, light, and moisture. Treat them the same as you do with any other dried spices.
- Powder and flakes should be stored dry in a sealed container, similar to other spices.
- If you have dried them as leaves in larger pieces or as flakes, you can also vacuum-seal them and put them in a dark and dry place.
If they are stored properly, they can last you up to 5 years or even longer.
Some final words
Using dehydration as a method to keep your microgreens last longer is rewarding. You can grind your microgreens into powder or preserve some of the structure and turn them into a herbal spice.
When we have grown more than what we can consume, we try dehydration instead of making it go to waste. It’s a gratifying feeling knowing that we have created our own powder or herbs that will add both taste and nutrition to meals.
There are different ways to dehydrate food, and we have shared those alternatives you can use at home. If you are interested in drying your microgreens for commercial use, there are other ways to go about it.
For home use, using a dehydrator is by all means the most effective and quick way to dehydrate food. But it’s also the most costly, and it requires you to have some space in your kitchen for the machine.
If you want to try it out and see if food dehydration is something for you, use your household oven. If you like the results, then it may be worth buying a real dehydrator.
We hope that you have been inspired to use your microgreens in various ways.