Saturday, January 24, 2015

Best Kitchen Tools for Herbs, Spices and Mixes.

Spent this morning going through my herbs, spices and mixes to see what needed refilled. After a quick trip to get a few things like cumin and salt, I can restock. I make a lot of my mixes, like taco seasoning and herb mixes. (some recipes are in my blog dated Jan 9..Mixes You Should Make Yourself). Besides the satisfaction of refilling my shelves with things that I made myself, I get to break out my toys (tools).  My mortar and pestle is my favorite. This is perfect for making dehydrated onion into flakes or powder and I highly suggest it if you are trying to make a hot pepper powder. I dry peppers all summer and the ones that haven't found a use by now get crushed into a powder to use like cayenne.

At least a couple times a year I end up with enough onions to be worth dehydrating. The food processor and the slicing blade make this a quick, tho still tearful, chore. Into the dehydrator they go until crispy. Depends on how thick you layer them on.
I also like this the best if I'm slicing a lot of potatoes or things like carrots to dry. Slicing or shredding you can get through a lot in no time. 
In case of emergency having a good ol' box grater is a must. I use this most of the time when just doing a small amount of anything for supper.
I love this little thing for stuff like peppercorns, mustard seed and rosemary (when I don't use the mortar) because otherwise I tend to have things shooting all over the kitchen, and quick dry rub mixes or salad dressings.
 Yep. A cardboard can flat.
                                                                                     
An extra window screen.
 And my lil baby dehydrator. The 
flats are great for so many things. I always grab all of them I can find when I'm in the store. For the more tender herbs that don't need heat, like parsley or basil, I just snip them off and lay on these flats. Nothing moist, obviously it'll just stick. These are also great for draining fried foods and a million things camping... For bigger batches I like the window screen, just scrub it with soap and water and let it dry, then lay out whatever you have. Air can circulate and it's easy to move from inside to outside as the weather determines. The dehydrator, for me, is the best choice for some things like potatoes, garlic or fruit leathers. (NOTE if your drying something really spicy like jalapenos, I would suggest going really primitive and running a thread through them with a sewing needly. Just hang them somewhere out of the sun and let them dry naturally. My dehydrator has a fan and the time I tried to dry hot peppers in it I spent the rest of the day with burning eyes...)  Of course an oven set to it's lowest and minded can also do most of these things just as well. Anything that isn't dry enough at the end of the day, just turn off the oven and start again in the morning. 
I'm adding pins to my canning and preserving board on Pinterest to share more detailed descriptions of how to dehydrate things safely and with the best outcome. I've added a link just below my google badge that takes you to my boards.