Here are the easiest methods for dehydrating green beans.
Green beans come in various shapes and sizes. They are among the most important food items in many countries around the world. From everyday cooking to annual holiday celebrations, they are always used to add color and flavor to different dishes. Unknown to many, green beans also contain lots of nutrients. They have a high amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals necessary for strong muscles and bones. In addition, they also contain fibers that promote digestion and cleanse the intestines.
Although commonly used fresh, green beans are usually dehydrated to prevent spoilage. Here are the most common methods for dehydrating green beans.
How to Dehydrate Green Beans
Dehydrating green beans in the oven
If you have a fully functional oven dryer at home, you can easily dehydrate green beans by following these steps:
- Wash the beans thoroughly and make sure that the beans are free from dirt. Unclean beans contain large amounts of germs that may be harmful when ingested. These come from the soil, container, and other plant parts. Insufficient cleaning may lead to contamination and spoilage.
- After washing, let the water drain from the beans using a strainer. To speed up the process, use a clean cloth or paper tissue to wipe the excess water on the peels.
- Once the surface water is removed, cut the beans into small pieces and set aside. The beans may be one to two centimeters long, depending on your preference.
- Fill the shaker water bath with water and heat it to a temperature of 200°F (95° Celsius). When the temperature is reached, blanch the beans for three minutes. After blanching, place them in an ice water bath for another three minutes and drain well. This procedure is done to sterilize the beans while preserving their quality. When there is no available shaker water bath, a steel container may be used for heating the water.
- After draining, place the beans on a dehydrator sheet or oven trays. Make sure that the beans do not overlap to maintain enough heat and air circulation.
- Place the trays in an oven dryer and set the temperature to 120°F (50°C). Let the beans stay inside the oven for a period of 12 to 18 hours. Via visual inspection, observe the beans after 18 hours and see if brittle and completely dried. If not, let the beans stay in the oven for another 12 hours and inspect them again.
- When the beans are completely dried, take them out of the oven and place them in a desiccator. This is done to ensure that the beans will not absorb moisture from the air. It also prevents condensation once the beans are packaged.
- After five hours, place the beans in air-tight containers and store them in a cool, dry place. To prevent moisture buildup inside the container, place a desiccant inside the jar. Make sure that the desiccant is non-toxic to avoid contamination of the dried beans.
Dehydrating green beans in the food dehydrator
A food dehydrator is a kitchen equipment used for food preservation. It is an electrical device that removes moisture from the produce. At present, dehydrators are commercially available on the market and vary in design and size. In food processing plants, oven dryers and large dehydrators are commonly used because of their large capacity, while for home cooking, small, portable dehydrators are used. These devices use the principle of conductive heat transfer to lower the moisture content of the product. This is also the same principle used in oven dryers and microwave ovens.
To dehydrate green beans using a food dehydrator, simply follow these steps:
- Clean the beans thoroughly by washing. Then, let them dry.
- Prepare water in a container and heat to a temperature of 200°F (95° Celsius). Blanch the beans for three minutes. Afterward, place them in an ice-water bath for another three minutes.
- Remove the beans from the cold water and spread them on a dehydrator tray. Cool them until the surfaces become dry.
- Turn on the dehydrator and set the temperature to 125°F (50° Celsius). Place the dehydrator trays inside and dry the beans for six to eight hours. The drying temperature and drying time are depending on the specification of the dehydrator. So, it is important to read the instructions manual before using them.
- After eight hours, inspect the beans if they are completely dry. If not, dehydrate them once more. When all beans are equally dry, turn off the dehydrator and let them cool for six hours.
- Remove the beans from the dehydrator and place them in a sealed container. Add a food grade silica gel to prevent moisture build-up. Store them in a cold, dark place afterward.
Basically, dehydrators and oven dryers have the same principles of operation. The only difference is that dehydrators are used for home cooking while oven dryers are used for industrial food processing.
Dehydrating green beans using a solar dryer (sun drying)
Solar drying is considered to be the cheapest and most widely used method of food drying. It does not consume electricity and does not need any specialized equipment. The only requirement is direct sunlight to sustain the drying process.
Solar dryers have direct and indirect types. Direct types expose the product to direct sunlight while being covered in glass. In other models, black surfaces are used to absorb all radiation and contain the heat. Meanwhile, indirect solar dryers collect solar energy and convert it into electricity. The electric energy generates the heat released by the dryer.
The procedure for dehydrating green beans using a solar dryer is similar to those stated above. The main difference is that sun drying takes longer to do due to the variable heat produced by the sun. Also, drying under the sun may become inconsistent due to inclement weather. This may lead to partially dried beans that have a shorter shelf life and get easily spoiled. Moreover, sun-dried beans are more prone to contamination than oven-dried beans.
Storage of Dried Beans
After drying the beans, it is also important to focus on the proper ways of storing the beans. This is to maintain their viability and quality for a long time. To further prolong the quality of the dried beans, here are some tips that you need to follow:
Avoid frequent opening of the jars to prevent them from absorbing moisture from the air.
- Place the jars in a cool and dry environment. Since the beans have a very low moisture content, it is necessary to maintain the moisture difference between them and the surrounding to a minimum.
- If there is no air-tight container available, you may put the beans in plastic bags and place them in a container filled with rice. Rice is a natural desiccant which absorbs moisture from the environment.
- Use food grade silica gel only. Some silica gels or other desiccants are toxic and harmful when ingested. To prevent contamination, buy desiccants from authorized retailers only.
- Avoid exposing the storage jars from direct sunlight. Ever wonder why medicine bottles are tinted? This is to block incoming sunlight from affecting the chemical composition of the drugs. The same is true for dried produce. Exposing them in sunlight, while inside an air-tight container, can destroy their nutrient composition. So make sure that the storage area is dark and sunlight-free.
Dried green beans have different taste and texture compared to the fresh ones. However, they are still nutritious and fibrous. If good quality dried beans are desired, it is recommended to follow the correct drying and storage procedures. For best results, use the dried beans after one year of storage.