Magic in the kitchen is really all about enhancing flavor and, whenever possible adding nutrition. That often means very expensive little jars of flavorings, extracts and packages of fresh herbs.
Recently I discovered a way to make many of those extra special ingredients at home for much less money (thank you, doomsday preppers). I started with dehydrated tomatoes. I used both fresh from the garden, and a #10 can of diced organic tomatoes from Costco ($2.79 for the whole thing). It seems like a lot, but the end product could easily fit into a 1 gallon zip lock or a couple of quart jars. It took about 24 hours (time can vary) to get the tomatoes to a dehydrated state. I loaded up the spice grinder, and pulsed until the tomatoes were a fine powder.
After grinding, press the powder through a sieve to remove the large pieces. Save the larger pieces to use in soups or as a sprinkle on garnish.
Store the powder in the cupboard in a tightly capped glass jar. Add a spoonful to sauces, soups, homemade pasta dough, almost anywhere you would like to have the tomato flavor with out the need to reduce the water content. Careful though, it’s pretty intense flavoring.
Another really great flavor enhancer is mushroom powder. This is very expensive to buy so making it at home is a real money saver, and it’s also a stealthy way to add great mushroom flavor to any dish without upsetting all the anti-mushroom eaters. I bought the mushrooms on sale. I cleaned and sliced the mushrooms and put them in the microwave for about 1 minute. This enhances the flavor. (Some people even cook them first, or use the mushrooms from their stock, puree and spread them on the fruit leather sheet in their dehydrator, but it’s not a necessary step.)
After microwave steaming them, I placed the mushrooms in a single layer in the dehydrator. It took about 12 hours to reach the desired state, but this can vary.
Once dried, I put them in the spice grinder and pulsed until I had a fine powder. A word of caution, don’t open the spice grinder right away or you’ll be inhaling mushroom powder for the next 5 minutes or so. I like it in my food, just not in my lungs. Again, pass the powder through a sieve and put into a glass jar.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s kale. We drink a lot of protein shakes and smoothies, and adding green vegetables is a super way to up the nutrition and to put some extra vegetables in your dishes without attracting any unwanted grousing. The process is very similar to both tomatoes and mushrooms. I cut and washed the kale and dried on paper towels.
Place the kale pieces on a single layer in the dehydrator. You can crowd them, but don’t stack them up. It’s easier to handle if you work with smaller, salad size pieces.
Process in the spice grinder until you get a fine powder.
Pass it through a sieve and store in a glass jar.
Add a teaspoon to shakes, smoothies, soups or pasta dough. You can do this in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator, and they are great additions to your pantry.
Let me know your ideas for using powders.