Handling Dried Vegetables

There are two basic kinds of dried vegetables.

Dried Legumes

Dried beans and peas have been used as food for thousands of years, and they continue to be important foods even today. In fact, with today's increased interest in healthful eating and in vegetables of all sorts,many more interesting varieties of beans are widely available now than only a few years ago.

Although legumes are dried forms of seed vegetables, they are hard and starchy and handled much like grains (which are also dried seeds). Grains and legumes are discussed in more detail in Chapter 19.

Freeze-Dried and Other Dehydrated Vegetables

Drying has always been an important method for preserving vegetables, especially before modern canning and freezing techniques were developed. Modern technology has developed new methods for drying foods, so a great variety of dried products is on the market, including dried potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Follow manufacturers' directions for reconstituting these products. Many need to be soaked in cold or warm water for specific lengths of time.They continue to absorb water as they are simmered.

Instant dried products, especially potatoes, require only the addition of a boiling liquid and seasonings to be ready to serve.Again, manufacturers' directions vary with their brands.

An important category of dried vegetables is dried mushrooms. Many flavorful wild mushrooms are in season for only a short time and are in limited supply at high prices. They are available year round in dried form,however. The most popular types—morels, chanterelles, and porcini—are illustrated, along with dried shiitake, a cultivated mushroom that originated in Japan and China.

Dried mushrooms should be soaked in hot water until soft, then drained and lightly squeezed before being cooked.The flavorful soaking liquid is strained and used as a flavoring for cooking liquids and sauces.

Continue reading here: Production And Holding Problems In Quantity Cooking

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