August 17, 2020

An Experiment: Dehydrated Gnocchi

Adjustments. Some are easier to make than others! I knew I'd have to make adjustments in my food preservation routine when we replaced the upright fridge in my pantry with a chest fridge on the back porch. Even though there wasn't a lot of freezer space in that little upright, I packed it full nonetheless! No longer having it means my freezer space is more precious than ever. 

One problem that's led to an adjustment is that I can no longer save some of my canning for winter. I used to store summer pickings of fruit and tomatoes in the freezer and save the jam, jelly, and sauce making for winter, when the heat from the canning process was welcome. I can't do that anymore because I don't have the freezer space.

This has led to is more dehydrating; instead of freezing small amounts of some foods, I've been drying them. Also, I've been thinking about other things I can dry as well. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs are pretty routine to dehydrate, but as I was working on our winter supply of gnocchi, I started to wonder if I couldn't dehydrate it too, like pasta.

Gnocchi (Italian dumplings) can either be made with potatoes or ricotta cheese. I make mine with ricotta (recipe toward the bottom of this post) of which I have a lot when milk is plentiful and I'm in cheesemaking mode. Gnocchi freezes well and is a delicious side dish or addition to soup. But storing several gallons of it in the freezer takes up a lot of room. A dehydration experiment seemed worth a try!

Gnocchi dough is traditionally rolled into ropes and cut into bite-size
 pieces. Fresh, it's boiled and served with sauce, but it also freezes well.

I freeze it as fat little mini-dumplings, but to make sure it dried evenly in the dehydrator, I rolled out the dough to less than a quarter-inch and cut it into small pieces.

For dehydrating, I rolled it thin so it would dry all the way through.

I dried it at the "meat" setting on my dehydrator (145°F/68°C) until it was crispy. I have to say it quite tasty as "crackers!" Then I vacuum packed it in half-gallon jars.

Dehydrated gnocchi. Look like crackers, doesn't it?

I doubt I'll be able to rehydrate it to anywhere near fresh standing, but hopefully, it'll retain its shape and substance. I'll probably try it first as an addition to our daily winter soup pot (for which I'm still saving freezer real estate for my soup jars of frozen leftovers). Dehydrated additions are a nice touch when the soup goes into the pot. I'm looking forward to giving it a try, come winter!

Anyone else trying something new in the food preservation department?


daisy g said...

Oh my gosh! I would never have thought of dehydrating gnocchi.
Your post makes me wistful. My momma used to grant my birthday meal wish by making gnocchi when I was a child. My favorite meal ever. Haven't found any as good since she's been gone.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, I know they sell shelf stable gnocchi in the stores, but I never thought about doing it myself. What a great idea. I was wondering about the ricotta potato mix dehydrating all the way without freeze drying though. No I don't imagine they'll be the fluffy pillows once rehydrated. No, nothing new. Still trying to play catch up with the regular stuff and refilling the pantry back up.

Jeff Anthony said...

We are getting tons of cherry tomatoes! I've roasted, bagged and frozen them, made jam, sauce etc. I'm worn out! I've just recently bought a dehydrator. Will cherry tomatoes do well in it? I've only done herbs up to this point.

Mama Pea said...

You are a shining example of "where there's a will, there's a way!" By experimenting, you never know when you'll come up with a fantastic idea so why not try it? I haven't tried anything "new" here yet this season, but it's not over yet!

To Jeff above, yes, your cherry tomatoes will dehydrate just fine. But do cut them in half before drying. Good luck with your bounty!

Ed said...

I canned beans earlier this year for the first time and recently made canned tomato paste for the first time. I have a dehydrator gathering dust in my basement. I guess I gave up on it because it always took so long to rehydrate things and then the loss of texture and taste that came with it. But that was a long time ago and my attention to details has greatly improved so perhaps I need to dust it off again.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Interesting! I have a dehydrator. We like gnocchi. I see a potential experiment in my future.

Leigh said...

Daisy, did your mom make her gnocchi herself? I've bought it too, but have to say it isn't as tasty as homemade (at least to me!) Even without ricotta, it should be easy to make with potatoes.

Jo, ha! Catch-up is the name of the game these days. I agree, accommodating the drying process is important. So the rolled-out ones don't look like traditional kind; I figure if I get the flavor, then the shape doesn't matter!

Jeff, what a lot of great ideas for your cherry tomatoes! I've dehydrated regular tomato slices in the past, but would be willing to give the cherries a try too. In fact, see Mama Pea's comment right below yours.

Mama Pea, I never would have thought to try this if I hadn't been short on freezer space. Necessity is the mother of invention! Of course, I won't declare success until we've actually rehydrated and eaten some of it. :)

Ed, those are good first time projects!

Loss of texture and change of taste are what put me off from dehydrating as well. Previous experiments have taught me that there are many things it's better for my not to dehydrate. I hope this isn't one of them! ;)

TB, as a cheesemaker, you have your own source of whey for ricotta! I'll have to report back this winter after I try rehydrating and eating some.

Nancy In Boise said...

I'm going to try doing some different food preservation if we ever get some ripe tomatoes! We have lots of green ones that lie and we're about a month behind from the weather but there's a whole another month to go. I thought about dehydrating some this year instead of just freezing them. I'm not sure if I have enough for actual canning. I didn't see a fermented tomato recipe in a new book that I bought it's called fermented vegetables by Kristen and Christopher Shockey. So I want to try a few other things! said...

I bet your dehydrating will work as you can buy it that way in the stores. I'm curious why you got rid of your other freezer. I really like your idea of freezing components for later too.

Goatldi said...

I still have about four gallons of Willa's milk from her last lactation in the freezer. I have never had these. I may just have to make some and try it. Looks like a nice addition to soups .

I just was shuffling through my pantry to take out my dehydrator . It is a Nessco American Harvester. Haven't used it in years but is almost new.

Peach jam in the pantry and the dehydrator like coming home!

Leigh said...

Nancy, sounds like you're having the same problem I am, green tomatoes not ripening. Like you, it looks like I'm not going to have many tomatoes this year for pizza sauce.

I'm very interested in your fermented tomato recipe. I hope you'll share it after you give it a try!

Sam, what happened was that I replaced my old upright fridge with a chest fridge. The chest fridge doesn't have a freezer compartment, so that was freezer space that I lost! It wasn't much, but it was enough to have to make adjustments! I really liked freezing fruits and tomatoes for later. Took a lot of the pressure off of having to get things preserved pronto.

Goatldi, the gnocchi is wonderful. Not only in soup, but our favorite way to eat it is with meatballs and marinara sauce with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Yummy! If you have room in your freezer, it freezes very well. Just pop into boiling water or broth to cook, then serve.

Dehydrators are great for small harvest amounts! Something I've always wanted to do, is dry a mix of veggies then powder them for soup seasoning. I need to give that a try!

wyomingheart said...

Excellent experiment, Leigh! Can’t wait to see the update! Yes, the freezer space is prime real estate this month and next. We are in the thick of it now! Mushrooms dehydrate and rehydrate well for us, but otherwise we don’t do much dehydrating. Perhaps we will revisit that if the gnocchi turns out well. The tomatoes in the key hole garden are simply Devine! I have never had such great production of tomatoes ever! Time marches on, and I must get to marching with it! Lol Have a terrific week!

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, I'm really happy to hear that abut your keyhole garden. I just took pictures of the sweet potatoes in mine, in contrast to the ones in the garden. What a difference!

I've never been a huge dehydration enthusiast because of our humidity. But limited freezer space has encouraged me to experiment!

Goatldi said...

That is a great idea Leigh!
I may try that also.

Malatrope said...

Simple advice: buy new freezer. They are invaluable, and not all that expensive. Run out of space? Buy another one!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, it's nice to have ideas to try, isn't it? :)

Unknown, if I didn't live in such a small house, I would consider doing that!

Unknown said...

I have dehydrated cherry tomatoes after cutting them in half (on an old window screen on the car dash in Idaho summer, before I had a solar dehydrator) and it worked great. Any recipe that called for sun-dried tomatoes, they can be used. Or you can just eat them out of hand like raisins.

Leigh said...

Unknown, I love the idea of drying things in the car on a window screen! Very clever. I did try drying cherry tomatoes this year, but I powdered them for tomato powder. I'll have to try them next year as you suggest.