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Discovering the Joy of Powders

 
D. Logan
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For many years I have been dehydrating foods. It's a natural outcome for someone whose focus was on long distance hiking for so many of my early years. Of late, I've been experimenting with powdering my dehydrated fare.

I started with mushrooms. I found a good deal on them and knew I wasn't going to be able to use them all if I bought more than a couple. I decided I would dehydrate the extra, but already had dried slices stored in the pantry. Having just watched a video on the subject, I thought I would give powdering a try. Holy moly! They didn't reduce in size as much as I expected, but definitely lowered the pantry space. More importantly the pure essence of mushroom was now literally at my fingertips. Just a pinch of this powder is enough to flavor an entire pot with lovely mushroom notes.

It gave me confidence to do the same with this year's squash purchase. I prefer heirloom squash for making pies, but just one such squash is more than I can reasonably used for the holidays. Some goes into soups or as side dishes, but most years a few cups get stored in the freezer. This time I dried it. Once powdered, it rehydrates into a ready-to-use puree I can make into any of my favorite squash dishes right away without the prep time or thawing.

Armed with this new confidence, I noted a major sale at a local store (Shout out to anyone who knows Jungle Jim's in Ohio!) that has an enormous produce section. The week after any sale, a ton of produce that is super ripe gets moved to clearance allowing me to get things for a song. With this knowledge, I prepared myself and made a special trip to buy a small ton of super ripe tomatoes. These I dried and powdered. This last one is a game changer for me. One of my biggest problems with so many recipes is that they want you to use tomato paste/sauce/juice in smaller amounts than the can you buy them in. With this powder, I'm now able to mix up the exact amount I need for ANY of these.

I don't know what I will powder next, but I am in love with this method. It's an extra step, but one that saves me endless time later down the road.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I have dehydrated and powdered many types of vegetables. Living in New Mexico for most of my life, drying food was VERY easy, and I'd powder down a lot of it. And like D Logan, I was a backpacker, and dried foods are easy to carry.

Something interesting I powdered down was tomato peels after slipping them off for canning, seemed a waste, the powder tastes excellent.

I keep a jar of mixed powdered veggies that I use in bread dough to add nutrition and flavor. Anything I'm tired of looking at ends up in there :D
Over the years it has included:
Hugely overgrown zucchini
All kinds of squash, including not-tasty jack o lantern pumpkins
Pea hulls when the peas were shelled out
Swiss Chard or other greens
Carrots
Cabbage
Peppers

I don't have one running right now, but I often have a jar of mixed fruit powders going, same idea.

Things I don't put into my mixed jars, as they are too good by themselves, seems like a waste:
Mushrooms
Onions, garlic, alliums
Dried beans (cooked, then mashed and dried before powdering) as I use them as a random protein addition. Incidentally, commercial bean flour is usually made with uncooked beans, I think they taste bad if not cooked, plus if you are watching your lectins, you can do your soaking etc, cook them, and have them ready instantly.

:D


 
William Bronson
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I found that mulberry and grape leaf taste terrible fresh or cooked, but pretty damned good dried into powder.
 
Isaac Hill
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We started making mushroom powders this year and it's great. We sun-dried for Vit D, blended, cooked, blended, dried, and then powderized in a heavy duty coffee grinder. It's such a great way to add the whole mushroom, including all the polysaccharides and fiber, to shakes, soups, oatmeal, whatever! This year we did Reishi, Chaga, Red Belted Polypore, Miatake, Turkey Tail, Artist's Conk and Lion's Mane, mostly respectfully wild harvested from within 15 miles of our home. Definitely going to be doing this every year.
 
Nick Kitchener
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I powdered 5 gallons of shredded zucchini. I pressed the juice out first in a cider press. It all fit in a peanut butter jar one it was done.

I powdered a lot of kale last summer as well as Swiss Chard and beet tops.

2 years ago I was given around 2 dozen roasted chicken breasts. I took the skin off, dehydrated and powdered it. I was a bit nervous dehydrating chicken, but it's as good today in soups and stews as it was 2 years ago and I haven't poisoned myself lol.
 
Philip McGarvey
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I love this.  Powders or just dried crushed greens are so versatile.

One of my food philosophies is that eating more different species every day is better.  And with jars of powdered things on hand that's easy to do.

I dehydrate everything: fruit, greens, mushrooms, and have dabbled in meat and veggies too.  Have 30+ different species of dried greens, and 20+ species of mushrooms.

I like to have a mushroom powder blend with some of everything, and a greens blend with all the not-too-intensely-flavored greens.

Anytime I make a soup I pour in the mushroom blend and greens blend.

I make pre-mixed oatmeal in jars, with a little of everything, including some of the greens and mushroom powders that go good with a fruit/cinnamon flavored oatmeal.  I can pour the oatmeal mix into a bowl, pour on boiling water and maybe add butter, and it's good to go, 30+ ingredients.  Basically instant oatmeal but home-mixed with no sugar and lots of good stuff.

I make pancake mix in large batches, based on oat flour + flax meal, with lots of powdered greens and even some mushrooms thrown in.  Gotta sneak those nutrients in everywhere.  My pancake recipe is mix + eggs + water, fried in butter.  (No fridge, so rarely have milk.)
 
Kena Landry
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I would be interested in having a nutrition expert weigh in on the actual benefits of powdered veggies. My understanding is that you keep minerals and some vitamins, but lose the more sensitive vitamins and most (all?) of the fiber and feeling of fullness from the bulk and from having crunched actively.

That said, I still dehydrate and powder greens that are edible but would not get eaten otherwise in our house: carrot tops, beet tops, radish tops if we have more than we can reasonably use in stews and stock. I figure it can't hurt to add more greens, but I don't count that as a replacement for fresh or frozen.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Yes you make a good point. Heat will destroy some nutritional content. How much would be good to know.

My take is that I'm growing nutritionally dense food to begin with, and this method of preservation I am developing for food storage systems that require no ongoing energy inputs once processed. Lacto-fermentation is another option in this category.

The powdering gains the benefits of space and low energy storage but there is always a penalty, and I'm guessing it's in the nutrition.
 
Tammy Farraway
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Kena Landry wrote:I would be interested in having a nutrition expert weigh in on the actual benefits of powdered veggies. My understanding is that you keep minerals and some vitamins, but lose the more sensitive vitamins and most (all?) of the fiber and feeling of fullness from the bulk and from having crunched actively.

...



It doesn't make sense that you would lose the fiber when something is dehydrated. Where would it go?!? If you were juicing, absolutely.

 
Tammy Farraway
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Another use for veggie powders- homemade cup of soup. To broth or bouillon, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of veggie (or mushroom) powder. Makes a really great afternoon pick-me-up.
 
Philip McGarvey
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Kena Landry wrote:I would be interested in having a nutrition expert weigh in on the actual benefits of powdered veggies. My understanding is that you keep minerals and some vitamins, but lose the more sensitive vitamins and most (all?) of the fiber and feeling of fullness from the bulk and from having crunched actively.



I would love to hear more scientific perspectives on this too.  

I assume that dehydrating loses some types of nutrients from fresh produce.  But I assume many other nutrients are still there unchanged.  Just depends on what compounds change chemically through drying.  Must vary some depending on the heat of the dehydrator - presumably lower heat and more airflow is better for drying things to keep more of the nutrients.

I assume all the fiber and calories stay.  Maybe the food doesn't have the same effect on your gut biome though if it comes as powder.
 
Michael Cox
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I had one experiment with powders last year - some dehydrated mushrooms. It failed miserably, because my hand-held blender just wasn't up to the job. Could just be the wrong type of blender, but is there something special about dry powders, vrs wet soups etc...? Do you need different blades/blender style?
 
D. Logan
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Michael Cox wrote:I had one experiment with powders last year - some dehydrated mushrooms. It failed miserably, because my hand-held blender just wasn't up to the job. Could just be the wrong type of blender, but is there something special about dry powders, vrs wet soups etc...? Do you need different blades/blender style?



Some blenders are better than others. Having done a few powders now, I have considered replacing my cheap dollar-store blender. It was already struggling in the past with anything even semi-solid and the powdering involves me having to stop repeatedly and push things down with a wooden spoon. Mushrooms were the only thing my blender handled well actually. It might be that I cut them thin before drying them though. A strong well-designed blender is going to be an entirely different experience. I've seen the 'magic bullet' style blenders handing solids far more easily than what I have now. Perhaps it is a similar situation for yourself.
 
Pearl Sutton
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I use a coffee grinder, not a blender, to powder things.  This type,

although I bet any kind would work, I've had an old hand crank one on my list for ages, maybe I'll get one someday and be able to report how they work. A Bullet might do it, my mom has one, I hate it and don't use it. It does pulverize well. It's a one  trick pony that way, You can't add stuff, or work slower, or get it anything but totally smooth. That doesn't work for me. But they probably would powder things (it would be amazingly noisy, I suspect.) A coffee grinder works really well, only con is you have to work in small batches. I can live with that.

On another thread someone asked about powdered veggies clumping, whether moisture absorbers would work. My own experience is I have never had clumping, but I take steps to avoid it.  I make sure the food is dried well, then powder it, then dry the powder again, to be SURE it's dry. I put it into the jar immediately, and seal it fast. Any time I use the jar, I open and close it very quickly. Pretend it will evaporate, that kind of fast movement.  

If I felt I needed to use an absorber, something to take into account is those only absorb a little bit of moisture. So dry it well, grind, redry, and keep it tight anyway, so the absorber has to only do the little bit it can.

:D
 
Tammy Farraway
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Michael Cox wrote:I had one experiment with powders last year - some dehydrated mushrooms. It failed miserably, because my hand-held blender just wasn't up to the job. Could just be the wrong type of blender, but is there something special about dry powders, vrs wet soups etc...? Do you need different blades/blender style?



You don't need different blades, but it might be your blender just isn't up to it.

Another option to try- blend before drying. It helps if you have fruit leather trays, but there are other options. After your leather is dry, it will pulverize easier than dried pieces. Also if your leather might have some moisture, freezing before pulverizing helps too.

Your mileage may vary.
 
Isaac Hill
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Michael Cox wrote:I had one experiment with powders last year - some dehydrated mushrooms. It failed miserably, because my hand-held blender just wasn't up to the job. Could just be the wrong type of blender, but is there something special about dry powders, vrs wet soups etc...? Do you need different blades/blender style?




We cut our mushrooms into fine strips to sun dry, then chop up, then use blender, and use coffee grinder for the fine powder after they're cooked and dried again. This is for hard, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi. An immersion blender won't really do the job.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Those bullet blenders work well for smaller quantities. Otherwise you need a good beefy blender with a cutting blade.
 
William Bronson
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Has anyone here tried drying Linden leaves?
How about Toon?
 
Kena Landry
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Well, aren't fibers good for you as a mechanical thing? Like they physically take up room in your digestive track with actual, well, fibers? I would assume that powdering them up breaks the fiber.

But again, I'm not a nutritionist.
 
Kena Landry
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Kena Landry wrote:Well, aren't fibers good for you as a mechanical thing? Like they physically take up room in your digestive track with actual, well, fibers? I would assume that powdering them up breaks the fiber.

But again, I'm not a nutritionist.



Actually, I stand (somewhat) corrected by science.

It looks like grinding does change the nature and property of fiber somewhat, but it still works to slow down glucose absorption. It's only a small measure of what food does to your body: I believe in eating food, not a sum of individual nutriments.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303294136_Effect_of_Grinding_Methods_on_Structural_Physicochemical_and_Functional_Properties_of_Insoluble_Dietary_Fiber_from_Orange_Peel
 
Rebecca Norman
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Ooh! Powdered tomato is so useful! I dry it bone dry in Sept-Oct during tomato season, but it does clump up if there's humidity and condensation, which there often is in my solar heated house in winter. Powdered dried apricots do the same.

Tomato powder shaken right on buttered toast is an amazing treat.

I mix it with powdered red chillies, nutri-yeast and salt to make an addictive popcorn shake (really much like the addictiveness of doritos).

And my housemate, who first experienced real salad at my house and learned to love it, discovered instead of making a vinaigrette, he can make instant salad with dressing, by drizzling olive oil from our preserved garlic confit, a few pieces of the mild garlic, and a shake of tomato powder, over fresh green leaves from the garden.

Powdered dried eggplant is oddly sweet and yummy in a way I never noticed in fresh eggplant. I use it occasionally to thicken a meat curry.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Just what I needed, this thread! Although ... I am still looking for more info on the dehydration phase (time and temperature). I am new to this.

I decided to buy a food dehydrator (where I live is not a sunny climate, so no solar dehydrator ...) in the first place to make dehydrated meals for my long bicycle-camping trips. Of course I won't make powder of everything (like pasta with sauce, I prefer to have real pasta in it). Now my first experiment after the dehydrator arrived yesterday is mashed potato. I think that will make nice powder.
 
L. Johnson
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I had some powdered shiitake that we had for too long and went past its "best by" date. It was awesome for another few months after that, which was great because I only discovered it after it past the date...

If I ever get around to growing shiitake (and it is on my hope to do one day list), I will probably powder it.

I've had trouble eating shiitake, but don't have issues if I just use them to make dashi/broth (and remove the rehydrated mushroom before eating) or use the powdered form.
 
William Bronson
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There are attachments  for vacuum sealers which work on canning jars.
For some time hey were impossible find at a reasonable price, but they are cheaply available now.
I just ordered one, and now I'm shopping for a pump.
I think that this technique can extend the life span of dried food products.
 
Leigh Tate
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I'm really happy to find this thread! I just got started on food powders this year, thanks to a SKIP BB (dry 6 different things. One of the suggestions to dry was sauce, to which I thought "HUH?"). I splurged and bought a Cleanblend blender (lower price Vitamix competitor) and have been powder happy ever since.

Dried pear sauce for my BB


Powdered cherry tomatoes ('cuz I have tons of cherry tomatoes)


William Bronson wrote:There are attachments  for vacuum sealers which work on canning jars.


Yes! These are a "must have" for anyone in areas of high humidity.

Vacuum sealing winter squash powder

The attachments are made by FoodSaver. My pump is an old Pump-n-Seal that I got for Y2K (still available, I believe).

Vacuum sealing my dry goods has made a huge difference in shelf life. We have high humidity much of the year, so powders are subject to clumping until they become rock-hard. Vacuum sealing also protects against pantry moths. This method really saves food!

Now my question. Does anyone have recipes using fruit and vegetable powders that they'd care to share?
 
Nick Kitchener
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Made a lot of celery salt this fall with excess production and it turned out great.

I also found a bed of neglected garlic that hadn't been pulled. The bulbs had split and were starting to sprout again. So I pulled them, sliced them up and dehydrated them to make garlic salt.

The powder turned out kind of sticky because of the oils in the fresh garlic. Even after adding the salt, it tends to cake pretty quickly so I suspect that powdering garlic is better done in an oven at higher temperatures.
 
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