Making Homemade Leafy Green Powder

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Grow Better Greens Podcast | Comments Off on Making Homemade Leafy Green Powder

In Episode 8 of the Grow Better Greens show, we dive into making dehydrated leafy green powder from your homegrown, high Brix greens. We investigate techniques, recipes, and storage tips for this excellent method of preservation. Sick of dealing with perishable, wilting greens that fade faster than you can say ‘salad?

You can listen in here, or download for later:

Making Homemade Leafy Green Powder

What is Leafy Green Powder?
Why Would You Want to Make Leafy Green Powder?
What are the Nutritional Benefits of Leafy Green Powder?
How to Make Leaf Powder
How to Use Leaf Powder
How to Store Leaf Powder
Why Do You Grow Food?

View the full transcription of this episode here.

What is Leafy Green Powder?

Leaf powder is made from dehydrated greens that have been ground down into a fine powder. Dehydrating the leaves removes almost 95% of their moisture, but does not expose them to heat that’s high enough to kill off their precious nutrients.

This is an ancient practice and can be done quite simply in the sun, or with different types of solar or electrical dryers.

There are also a variety of options for grinding the dehydrated leaves, such as electrical coffee bean grinders, mortar and pestles, and hand crank nut/seed grinders.

Dehydrated leafy green powders are a bit different than the (raw) green plant powders that we see in health food stores, meant to be added to smoothies and juices.

Those products are normally freeze dried and not dehydrated. Freeze drying, which requires specialty equipment, works by first lowering the temperature of the food to a point below freezing, and then quickly raises it up to above boiling. This process also removes the moisture, at a slightly higher rate than dehydration (95% vs. 99%).

Because a bit more moisture is removed, freeze dried foods also last slightly longer on the shelf. While this is considered to be a superior technique that retains a bit more nutrition, it’s obviously not available to us home cooks!

But remember, as freeze-dried food is store-bought, you have zero control over the ingredients that go into these products!

You may be so convinced of the value of your homegrown greens that you want to preserve them for future use instead of gambling on someone else’s idea of nutritional greatness.

To learn more about growing greens at home with more nutrients per calorie than those you can buy locally, sign up below:

Why Would You Want to Make Leafy Green Powder?

There are 3 great reasons to dehydrate your greens and grind them into leaf powder:

  • Preserve a perishable crop – figuring out what to do with leafy greens can be overwhelming! Especially considering how quickly they wilt after harvest.
  • Introduce more options for eating greens – beyond salads and green smoothies. Variety is the spice of life!
  • Sneak them into dishes for your picky eaters

A few other reasons to go through the trouble of making leafy green powders:

  • Because the leaves are ground, this is a perfect solution for using up damaged and unappealing leaves!
  • Adding lea powder to bread or pasta means that you are putting nutrition into a food that normally lacks value.
  • Volume! You can eat a whole lot more leaves as a powder than as-is, straight from the garden.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Leaf Powder?

For starters, grinding, just like macerating, pureeing and juicing our greens, allows us to absorb the nutrients more directly – our digestive enzymes are coming into contact with more surface area when we eat leaf powders. We’re simply lending a hand with some pre-digestion chores!

While a minor amount of nutrients are lost in dehydration, some can be gained from using high Brix greens. Further, eating the powder with complementary foods like fats and oils that help greens to release more Beta Carotene (which is turned into Vitamin A by your body) is an excellent strategy for improving nutrition.

Vitamin A deficiencies are notorious throughout the world, especially in compromised economies – leaf powders can help to address these issues!

If nutritional deficiencies are of importance to you, it may be best to consult a chart showing which veggie leaves are the highest in nutrients, such as iron, protein, and vitamin A.

Kale, Moringa, Parsley, Chaya, Spinach, Wheat leaves and Barley leaves are all excellent, high-value greens.

How to Make Leafy Green Powder

First of all, since you, the gardener, have full control over the final product, make sure to harvest high-quality greens at an ideal time! Learning about Brix and when to harvest your greens for optimum health is a great starting point.

Make sure that your greens are clean, with no splash-back from any muddy soil, especially if it contains unfinished compost or manure. If you see anything visible on the leaves, be sure to rinse them clean before putting them in your dryer or dehydrator.

It is highly advised to blanch the leaves first for three minutes in steam, which kills off harmful microorganisms. This also helps to speed up drying (by softening the cell wall) and deactivates harmful plant enzymes that some greens have for self defense.

It is imperative that you’ve researched whether or not the green that you’re using can be eaten raw or needs to be boiled, steamed, or blanched first!

Next, spread your (blanched?) greens out on your dryer/ dehydrator screens, leaving plenty of space in between. Whether you remove the stems before or after the greens have been dried is up to you!

Dry thoroughly and grind well.

(FYI: the best how-to instructions for making leaf powder are in the book 21st Century Greens by David Kennedy.)

How to Use Leaf Powder

There are a few easy ways to incorporate leafy green powder into your diet. Here are some to consider:

  • Replace 20 % of your flour with leaf powder, by volume, in breads and pastas. This is sneaky!
  • Sprinkle one or more spoonfuls into smoothies, sauces, and salad dressings. Try different greens to get different flavors!
  • Adding leaf powder to fat (at a rate of 10%) is ideal, as it enhances the availability of Vitamin A/ Beta Carotene. Think about adding some to coconut or palm oil and letting it melt over your rice, stews, or soups.

You can also try it as a salt and spice sprinkle – think popcorn or rice bowl with veggies! I also love it with chocolate sauce over sliced fruit (click the heart in the lower left corner of the photo above to see my easy recipe on Instagram). Below, I’ve added it 50/50 to the addictive Egyptian condiment Dukkah, which I’ve then drizzled over grilled veggies.

How to Store the Leafy Green Powder

Leaf powder can keep for up to one year if properly stored. Its biggest enemies are moisture, light, and heat – just like veggie seeds!

So be sure to keep it in a dark jar or tin, or even try storing it in your refrigerator.

If you plan to store it for a length of time (a month of longer), blanching will help to prevent harmful bacterial growth.

Why do You Grow Food?

In this section we ask our listeners to share why they are growing food. This week Heidi Nawrocki, who gardens in West Virginia, shares why she loves growing food!

Thanks for reading my blog : ) I appreciate your time and wish you much success in growing healthy food!