My dry-mesh open-air dehydrator is really working out well. It takes longer to dehydrate in it than it would in an electric one, at least in our climate (in the desert, it probably would not be much longer, if any), but it uses free solar and wind energy. So far we have dehydrated morel mushrooms, fresh parsley (I got it on clearance at the market), rhubarb, a lot of peaches, and now I have spinach leaves in it. I read an interesting piece on line about dehydrating spinach. You wash it, take the stems off, and dry the leaves until they are thoroughly crunchy-dry, then run them through the blender to make spinach flour, which you can then easily incorporate into soups and sauces or (and this is my favorite idea) into pasta dough to make spinach pastas.
Yesterday morning I picked through our row of spinach, taking every leaf big enough to pick, and it was decimated. All that went into the dehydrator. Lil Miss A commented that she wished she could have had one more spinach meal before I did that. I figured it was done for the year, because I was pretty brutal with my picking. But by evening time, the row had grown a whole bunch more spinach and it's ready to pick again. Amazing. And now Lil Miss A can have more fresh spinach for lunch.
The peach slices, by the way, are so delicious. The peaches when fresh were a little disappointing, picked early for shipment and so not very sweet when they finally did ripen. But when we (the girls and I) sliced them thin, dipped them in vinegar water anti-browning solution, then dehydrated them in the open air, all the sugar they contained was concentrated, and they are irresistible. I ate way more than I should straight out of the dehydrator.
Getting ready for church this morning... Today our family is providing the meal for fellowship hour after services. This year I made (surprise!) peach pies, 5 of them, to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I panicked when I got the pies ready, thinking there might not be enough for everybody. You just never know what attendance will be like in the summertime. So I quickly made a big pan of strawberry rhubarb crisp to keep as a backup. If we don't need it, we can bring it home.
Lil Miss A leaves this afternoon for her week at Village Creek Bible Camp. She is very excited.
UPDATE: We didn't even touch one of the pies. :) We will be eating pie and crisp for a week.