MH Bonham is an award-winning author and editor. Bonham is also the author of more than 50 books as well as thousands of articles.
Why Dehydrate Lettuce and Other Salad Vegetables?
If you have an abundance of lettuce, or maybe you're tired of throwing away salad that otherwise sits and rots in your refrigerator, you may be surprised to learn that you can dehydrate lettuce (and other leafy greens). But then, you're likely to wonder why you should even do that, since eating a brittle, dried salad isn't very flavorful.
At least, that's what I was wondering until I learned you can use those leafy vegetables as a way to boost the vitamin and mineral content of other foods—and give yourself a healthy dose of vegetables as well. If you have family members who don't like vegetables, or who don't get enough vegetables, this is a great way to add a boost of nutrition to their diet.
What Type of Greens Work?
Just about any type of salad or leafy greens work for dehydrating. I love to dry spinach, arugula, and various lettuce types. Kale works, too. Here are some ideas for drying:
- Lettuce (any type)
- Mustard greens
- Napa cabbage
It really doesn't matter what type of leafy vegetables you dry, as long as you dry them thoroughly before processing them.
And no, this is not a good way to dispose of your half-rotting salad. The only thing you can do with rotting salad is throw it away. So, you need to rescue that lettuce before it becomes nasty.
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Step 1: Dehydrate the Greens
Choose lettuce or leafy greens that are in good shape. In other words, wilted or rotting greens needs to go in the garbage. Wash your the greens well and get as much water off the leaves as you can. Salad spinners are great for this, but if you don't have one, don't fret. The dehydrator will take care of the additional moisture, but it will add to the overall time.
Obviously, you're going to simply lay all the greens in there without worrying too much about spacing. As it dries, it will provide enough airflow. Usually, 15 hours on 140ºF is enough to dry your greens out, but if there are any more pliable leaves, keep drying your greens until they is brittle. I've heard others being able to dry greens at 100ºF for about 12 hours, but honestly, I've had undried pieces. It's best to check on it every six hours or so to determine if the greens are fully dried.
Purple lettuce takes longer to dry, which is why some people simply remove purple leaves. I don't. I just dry the leaves longer.
Step 2: Grind Into a Fine Powder
Once your lettuce or leafy greens are dry, let it cool before you put it in a blender, food processor, or spice mill. Then, blend it up to a fine powder. Store in a container in a cool, dry place. I'm not sure how long it will keep, but my guess is a few years. But you don't want to store it that long. Instead, use it!
How to Use Dehydrated Lettuce or Leafy Greens
You can use your dehydrated lettuce or leafy greens in the same way that you use herbs and spices. You'll add some nutritional value to your meals without the hassle of trying to get picky family members to eat vegetables. All it takes is a tablespoon, so consider adding it to meals without worrying about affecting the flavor.
Some creative ideas include adding it to:
- Macaroni and cheese
- Risotto and other rice dishes
- Mashed potatoes
- Any soup or stew
- Any meat dish
- Any side vegetable dish