Eben’s Solar Food Drying Blog — Spring 2016

Best Kale Chip Recipe for Solar Food Dryer!

Kale chips are one of the tastiest and healthies snacks you can make. And a solar dryer is the perfect way to dry your chips (though electric dehydrators works fine too). This time of year, kale is growing like crazy in my garden. By June I can’t keep up with it. So last year I started experimenting with kale chips. I was able to dry more than 50 stalks of kale at a time in my SunWorks solar dryer! This recipe is quite popular, even with kids.

A solar dryer is much superior to the oven method often used in these recipes, as the oven tends to overheat the kale, dry it too fast, and may cook the flavor and nutrients out. Solar-dried kale tastes just like … kale!

Here’s how:

Start with the freshest organic kale from your garden or farmers market. Any type of kale will work, but I like the Red Russian, or similar varieties. Rinse thoroughly by submerging leaves in sink full of water. Don’t worry about drying, a little water will have virtually no effect on drying time.

Prepare kale by slicing out the main stem and cutting the leaf into sections (see photo) that are about 3” by 3” which will become the “chips.” They will shrink and become chip-sized when dry. Smaller sizes are fine. Put all the cut-up kale leaves into a big bowl. Unlike oven recipes, do not add anything to the kale until it has been completely dried.

Spread kale pieces evenly on dryer racks so that pieces are not overlapping. Dry until kale is completely dry and quite crispy. All chips must be fully dried if you want it to last and be nice and crunchy. You should be able to easily crumble them into flakes with your hand. You could stop here if you just wanted to make kale flakes for soups and cooking. Otherwise, continue with seasoning.

Remove rack from the dryer with the kale chips in place. Spray liberally with an olive oil spray. This adds palatability and also makes it possible to get the seasoning to stick to the chips without any moisture.

As soon as the oil has been applied, add a finely ground salt to all chips. A popcorn salt is good for this since the salt grains are finer and will stick on the chips better.

Now place all your salted chips in a large bowl that is big enough to allow you to toss the chips around a bit. Add the final seasoning package. My favorite so far is a combo of garlic powder and onion powder. The salt and seasonings need to be added quickly while the oil spray is moist, but once they are in a bowl, you can add more oil spray to get the seasoning to stay put. Check the taste and add more oil, salt, or seasonings as desired.

Once you have the seasonings applied, seal immediately in airtight containers or ziplock bags. Salt attracts moisture, so leaving them out will cause them to loose crispness. If your chips were nice and dry and you keep them in an airtight container (unopened), they will last 6 to 9 months and still taste great. Try it and let us know what you think!

Happy solar food drying!
Eben

Copyright ©2016 by Eben Fodor

 

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