How to Dehydrate and Powder Greens for Winter

This is a great way to preserve surplus leafy greens and ensure a healthy diet throughout leaner months.

kale powder in a wooden spoon

Kilito Chan / Getty Images

We are lucky here in Scotland that winter temperatures rarely fall below minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). And because I have a polytunnel, I am able to grow fresh greens all year long. But even with the potential for cold season growing, it still makes sense to preserve as much as possible from summer to last us throughout the year.

I like to dry and powder green vegetables grown over the summer months, since this is a useful way to add nutritional goodness to winter soups and stews without necessarily having to brave the elements and harvest greens from the polytunnel. Dehydrated and powdered greens take up little space in the pantry and can be very useful in winter cooking. They can also be a good solution where freezer space might be at a premium.

It is worth noting that, while a dehydrator might be handy, greens can be dried for this purpose in your oven or stove, or, in less humid environments, even by air-drying. So you do not necessarily need any special equipment for this job.

How to Dry Greens for Winter

I can dehydrate greens from the garden in and above my wood-burning stove. I like to dry some herbs, too, by hanging them in bunches to dry. But the greens I lay on wire racks in a warm position with good airflow or place them in the oven on low heat. Of course, if you have a dehydrator, you could use this too. I typically remove the largest, toughest stems and dry the leaves without these to powder. But the stalks can also be used and should not be thrown away in a zero-waste home.

Once the greens are fully dry, they will be crisp and will break and crumble easily. For storage, it is important to make sure that they are fully dry, not partially dehydrated, or they may mold.

There is a wide range of leafy green vegetables that you might use and preserve in this way. Often I use brassica crops—not just kale, but also the leaves from broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Other greens that can be preserved in this way include beet leaves, chard, turnip greens, etc. Dried and powdered onion greens will add a mild onion flavor to the mix.

How to Powder Greens

You can place the leaves whole or lightly crumbled into airtight jars to use over the winter months. But I like to use a blender to grind them up into a powder, since this means that they will take up less space in jars, and it gives a powder that can be unobtrusively added to a huge range of recipes. If you don't have a blender or don't want to use electricity, a mortar and pestle can be used to turn the flakes and pieces of green leaves into powdered form.

It won't take long to reduce the bulk of a harvest of leafy greens down to a very small amount. Typically, around a cup of loosely packed dried leaves will reduce to around a tablespoon of powder. This can be very helpful if, like me, your freezer space and pantry fill up quickly.

Powdered greens in an airtight jar should keep all through the winter (and perhaps up to a year or so) and will enable you to add nutrients to a range of recipes over the coldest part of the year, when less fresh produce is available from your garden.

How to Use Powdered Greens

If there are members of your family who are reluctant to eat leafy vegetables, then a spoonful or two of powdered greens is a great way to add some without them even noticing. Even if you and your family do love to eat fresh greens, adding powdered greens is very easy. You can simply reach for a jar whenever you're making soups, stews, casseroles, or other meals. Powdered greens might also be added to smoothies or health drinks. I like adding them to egg dishes like omelets, frittatas, and quiches.

If you don't have any fresh greens available from your garden, or if the inclement weather means that you don't really feel like making a trip outside, then having a jar of this powder on hand means that you can still add nutrients to your meals.

We would not be without our fresh greens through winter. But I do definitely find that dehydrated and powdered greens make a good addition to the winter pantry shelves.