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Japanese Dried Vegetables

Dried shiitake mushrooms and kiriboshi daikon (dried, shredded daikon radish) certainly come to mind when you think of dried vegetables. They are among the ingredients treasured for their long shelf life and increased nutritional value in dehydrated form.

Dried vegetables like these are quietly gaining attention. That is because you can easily make them in a small, sunny space in your garden or on your patio without the need for special tools. The dehydration process removes water content from the vegetables and condenses their natural flavors, so they taste even better than in its natural state. Also, there’s little waste, since you can nearly use the whole vegetables. The skins and leaves are just as delicious as the main part of the vegetable. Let’s enjoy all the taste and the nutrients dried vegetables have to offer!

Let’s Make Dried Vegetables!

Sunlight is essential for drying vegetables. It’s best to make them on a clear, sunny day. Simply gather the vegetables you like, and spread them on a clear, sunny day. Simply gather the vegetables you like, and spread them on a utensil that lets air through, such as a flat bamboo basket.

Wash and slice the vegetables. Cut them into rectangular slices, thin their use. Cut into pieces roughly the same size to ensure that they will dry evenly. Wipe off any excess moisture with a paper towel and place them in a flat bamboo basket. To dry the pieces efficiently, be sure to have the damp side up and turn them over when the top side dries. The recommended drying time ranges between three hours and three days, depending on the season, air temperature, and type of vegetable. Dried vegetable pieces are best suited for cooking in a semidried (half-dried) state. If you need to continue drying the vegetables overnight, bring the pieces into the house in the early evening. When the pieces begin to wrinkle or soften it is a good indication that they’re done.

If you’re making dried vegetables for the first time, mushrooms are recommended because they’re easy to prepare.

Leave the mushrooms unwashed. Simply remove the tough stem ends of your favorite variety of mushroom and loosen them. Dry them for two hours or up to a half day under the sun. They’re done when the pieces wrinkle. If you’re in a hurry, you can dry them more quickly by separating them into smaller portions.

The benefits of dried vegetables include the following:

Dried-Daikon

Grilled daikon radish after one day of drying

  • The dehydration process condenses the umami (a pleasant savoriness) and increases the nutritional value of the vegetables.
  • With water content removed, the vegetables require less time to cook.
  • The flavors of seasonings are more easily absorbed by the dried vegetables.
  • Dried vegetables have umami, so less seasoning is needed.
  • They keep for a long time (and can be frozen), although semi-dried vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within about 5 days.

Most vegetables can be made into dried vegetables, but those with high water content, such as lettuce and bean sprouts, spoil easily and thus are not recommended for drying. It’s always a good idea to try drying a variety of vegetables.

One of the secrets to making delicious dried vegetables is to select vegetables in season. The umami available only from vegetables in season will be further concentrated, which makes them taste even better.
Be sure to check the weather report before you begin in order to avoid damp or rainy weather in the middle of your drying process. That way, you can enjoy making dried vegetables from seasonal produce.

Why not try this once you’re familiar with the process!

Dried-Potatoes

Dried Potatoes

Directions:

  1. Wash a satsuma-imo (Japanese sweet potato) thoroughly and cut it lengthwise into 3 pieces of equal size.
  2. Prepare a steamer until it’s steaming hot.
  3. Wrap a towel around the lid of the steamer.
  4. Place the satsuma-imo pieces into the hot steamer, and steam them for about 20 minutes until soft.
  5. Once the potatoes are steamed, cut each piece in half lengthwise to make 6 equal-sized pieces. Spread them onto a flat bamboo basket or a net. Dry them in the sun for a day-and-a-half to two days, turning them over occasionally. Store them in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Once they’re dried to the desired condition (semidried is ideal), place them in an airtight bag.
  7. They will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 weeks in the freezer. You can enjoy them as is or warm them in a toaster oven.

Gochiso Magazine, Nijiya Market

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