This summer I have zucchini coming out my ears. The cold, wet spring, in the end, didn’t finish off my zucchini plants and the hot, dry summer provided perfect growing conditions. I made loaves and muffins, I grated zucchini and froze it. We fried it. And we still have more. None of my company is allowed to leave without taking a zucchini… or three. This year in desperation I dehydrated them. I was amazed! They were crispy, had a natural mild sweetness, and were a delicious snack. I came up with a few easy toppings for variety. And you know they are a hit when the kids are eating them out of the dehydrator before it is even turned off.
Slice zucchini in thin slices. Thinner means they dry faster, and are more crispy, but slightly thicker is ok too, because they curl up into great little “cups” that make excellent salsa or sour cream scoops!
Choose your topping. If using oil, toss in a bit of oil and sprinkle on your toppings. Toss together in a bowl and place on racks in the dehydrator, or on cookie sheets in the oven.
Dehydrate at about 135F for several hours or until crisp.
Toppings that taste fantastic (and I know because I’ve tried them):
Salt and Vinegar
Soak zucchini slices in vinegar for a few hours or overnight. Toss with a pinch of salt and dehydrate.
Toss with a few tbsp. of melted coconut oil and a cane sugar-cinnamon mix. Dehydrate.
Salt and Oil
Toss with a few tbsp. of grape seed oil or olive oil and a pinch of salt. Dehydrate.
Toss with a few tbsp. of your favorite herbs. I would suggest freshly-dehydrated dill or basil. Dehydrate.
Dehydrate as is. Dehydrated zucchini has a slightly sweet flavour and are surprisingly good with no toppings at all!
Store in air tight container to preserve crispiness.
Don’t over-salt them! They dehydrate and shrink up a lot so use salt sparingly.
For the same reasons as above, don’t over-oil them.
Reaching crispiness may take longer than several hours. My homemade dehydrator took a full day to do the job since I don’t have an accurate temperature adjustment on it.
I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years. From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well. And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.
Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent. It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid. It worked… somewhat. I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax. I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc. After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?” So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that. I removed the Borax. But to make it less scientifically accurate, I also added my “secret ingredient” as a rinse aid: the citrus vinegar cleaner I have been making. I have read that vinegar is a great rinse aid, and I know that citric acid is what keeps deposits and buildups off your dishes, so why wouldn’t this simple, 2 ingredient cleaner work too! And it DOES. With great results!!
*** After having used this recipe for 6 months now, I have played with it a bit and found that the following recipe works best:***
So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:
1 cup washing soda (old recipe used baking soda)
1/4 c. citric acid (old recipe said 1/3 c.)
1/4 c. coarse salt (old recipe said 1/3 c.)
10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional. Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil. Mix again. Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted citrus vinegar cleaner.
Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.
UPDATE: More is not better! If you are having any build up issues use less!
Citrus Vinegar Recipe
Where to find ingredients: Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at U-Brew stores. You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section. You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co. Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects. (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid. I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it. Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid. I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid. Coarse salt: same as pickling salt. Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs. Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content. Baking Soda: We all know where to find it! Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs. Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner: Click here for recipe.
I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents. Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft. However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes. Try it out and let me know!
I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester. I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.
Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price.
Homemade citrus cleaner is the cost of your fruit plus white vinegar.
Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load.
7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs) So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.
You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.