Freeze-Dried Mirepoix – The Holy Trinity
“Laissez les bon temps rouler!”
We are experiencing record inflationary prices. It’s important that you have go-to ingredients that will make even the most boring of foods taste next-level. In this video, I will prepare and freeze-dry a medley of carrots, onion, and celery. The French call this combo a Mirepoix. The Cajuns call it the Holy Trinity of cooking and often substitute bell peppers for carrots. Other cultures also combine peppers in the vegetable combo to create what’s commonly called Sofrito in Italy and with Leeks called Suppengrün in Germany. You can make copious amounts of this in your freeze-dryer for pennies and will keep your cooking perfectly balanced and flavorful with minimal effort on your part. If you have eaten a good meal, it probably had a medley of Mirepoix in it. From stews to stuffing to Jambalaya to rich bolognese sauces, use a handful or more of freeze-dried Mirepoix to start, and you will have 25-years of perfect meals.
Mirepoix calls for a ratio of two parts onions, one part celery, and one part carrots. The Holy Trinity is in equal parts. That’s what I make. When I make it, I never measure. I just eyeball it to equal parts. The great part about these freeze-dried vegetables is you always have them on hand, and you can just toss them first in water, warm butter, ghee, olive oil, or some broth you’re cooking with, and they will rehydrate and marry their flavors into what you are cooking. It’s like a kiss of the perfect blend of flavors that should be the base of almost every savory meal you cook. If you’re new to cooking, just starting your savory meals with a handful of freeze-dried mirepoix will help to make your food taste like you are an expert chef. With just a few runs of your freeze dryer, you will have over a year’s worth of a base for perfect meals. At the bottom of this page, you will find my recipe for Mirepoix Rice with Fresh Herbs.
If you would like to purchase a freeze-dryer, you can do so through this link: https://bit.ly/2YYjjCw.
PREPARING THE VEGETABLES
You have just three vegetables in a Mirepoix: celery, carrots, and onions. I wanted a little uniformity of piece size without all the cutting, so I used a mandolin and then a knife. The nice thing about freeze-dried Mirepoix is that you could crumble it between your fingers to complete dust if you wanted to. So, if it’s too big, you can reduce the size as you place it in your cooking just by crunching it up with your fingers. For the celery, simply cut off the ends and tips, run it through the mandolin, or chop it into pieces no bigger than roughly a quarter inch. You can chop the leaves and all. It’s all edible, and celery is an aromatic vegetable, meaning that it will impart its flavor essence into what you are cooking. The mandolin did an excellent initial job, but I followed up with a knife to rough cut it into even smaller pieces.
Next, I processed an equal quantity of peeled carrots by cutting off the ends and tips and then running them across the mandolin with the grater feature. Again, you can process these by hand with just a knife by cutting them cross-wise and then chopping them again into smaller rough-cut chunks. Typically when you freeze-dry anything, you have to be very concerned about the uniformity of size of things, so it sublimates all of the moisture appropriately. However, with these three vegetables, the freeze-dryer is so effective that it’s pretty much a non-issue. You just want all three ingredients to be around a quarter inch or smaller.
For the onion, I cut off the ends and peeled it. Then I cut it in half, equally across the length a couple of times, then cross-cut to give me uniform pieces around one-eighth of an inch. I placed them all in a gallon ZipLock bag and blended them by hand to mix the ingredients. When it looks pretty evenly dispersed, you can freeze it right in the bag. It will crumble and break apart after freezing pretty easily, so you can spread it in a layer on the freeze-dryer trays. When it’s good and frozen, I break it apart on the freeze dryer trays into a layer that is only slightly above the walls of the tray in some places. You can break it up even more by hand pretty easily.
I planted the carrot tops directly back into the garden, and I will eat whole carrots from them again.
I approach freeze-drying from a couple of different angles. First, it’s an inflation buster. I can rehydrate and cook the food I freeze-dry today at today’s prices when that food isn’t available anymore or has become too expensive. Second, I like meals that are ready to eat, whether I am rehydrating after a disaster, on a camping trip, or just for Monday night’s dinner when I am too tired to cook and clean. Third, I try and freeze-dry everything that comes out of my garden, so I have great flavors and nutrients throughout the year. Finally, I like to build my prepping food stores with base ingredient foods that I can use to enhance meals later. For this, my Harvest Right freeze dryer is excellent. Of all the things it freeze-dries, vegetables are the easiest and the best. You can dehydrate vegetables really well, but you won’t get nearly the shelf-life out of them, they will be harder to rehydrate, and the higher temperature can change their texture and cook them slightly. Freeze-dried vegetable medleys will rehydrate perfectly, can be thrown into just about anything you are cooking without needing to rehydrate them separately, and they make for a quick handful of added flavor and nutrients in just about anything you can cook, from eggs to stew to chicken noodle soup to hamburger patties. With freeze-dried mirepoix you don’t have to cut your vegetables, so your prep time in cooking is a fraction of the time.
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THE FINAL PRODUCT
The freeze dryer is excellent for Mirepoix. I can’t think of any complications you could possibly run into. I freeze-dried mine along with some other things, and it will be the first thing done, though I’ll just leave it in there until the rest of the items are done. You could dehydrate Mirepoix vegetables, but the shelf-life will not be as long, and the higher temperature might serve to cook and jerky them a bit, which will make it harder to rehydrate the vegetables. Still, you can do it this way. This freeze-dried version has a shelf-life of at least 25 years when stored correctly in an oxygen and moisture-free environment. If you put them in smaller mylar bags, you can have the perfect portion for a meal. I just put mine in a jar with an oxygen absorber and use it by the handful when cooking. Even with opening it and grabbing handfuls out to use, it will keep for well over a year because it is almost entirely devoid of moisture.
For a variation on this, you could mix in herbs that you would use in a particular recipe and freeze dry it all together. I would use fresh herbs for this over dry for the best flavors. Just these three: carrots, celery, and onion, provide you a better base all by themselves. You can always add in herbs later. Make a Mirepoix fresh, then use it in your cooking. What do you think? What’s your favorite dish with the Holy Trinity as the base? Let us know in the comments below.
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Mirepoix Rice with Fresh Herbs
2 tsp olive oil or 1 tbsp ghee
2 cups freeze-dried Mirepoix
2 cups of water, for an even better flavor, use chicken stock
1 cup of white jasmine rice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of fresh herbs to give it a fresh character. I usually use parsley, but I have lately been on a fresh tarragon kick. I highly recommend fresh French Tarragon if you can find it or grow it.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add mirepoix and rice. Allow the mirepoix to soften a bit with the rice and oils. Stir it gently until all the rice is coated and warmed but do not allow it to brown. If it browns, turn the heat down. The browning will give your dish a slightly nuttier flavor. When the mirepoix has softened a bit after about 4 minutes, add the chicken stock or water, a pinch of salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and put the lid on the saucepan.
Cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle the herbs of your choice (try the fresh French Tarragon) on top. Fluff with a fork and serve.
You might not eat regular rice again. Your kids will love the rich flavors. If you use fresh Mirepoix and fresh ingredients to make the recipe, use ⅓ of a cup less liquid. You can take the freshly cooked Mirepoix Rice with Fresh Herbs, freeze it in small portions, then freeze-dry it and package it in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. The rice will freeze-dry as quickly as the vegetables, and the moisture will be almost non-existent in the finished product. This will allow you to just rehydrate with some water or broth. You can have a side dish on any weeknight in just a few minutes. You can have a warm meal in a few minutes on any trail anywhere in the world. Thank me later.
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