Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dehydrated Produce

I keep telling my Mum how much I love dehydrating veggies from the garden. This is just a tiny sampling of some of the things I've dried. Left to right is: pears ( from someone elses tree), onions, tomatoes from last years garden, apple slices ( on sale at the supermarket) and cucumber slices from this year's garden. Oh, and the two little bottles are the basil shown earlier and stevia, both from the garden. Soon, we are going to be inundated with tomatoes. I can't wait to see them all crispy dry and put up for winter!

I wish I'd thought to dry cucumber sooner. We've had so much of it we couldn't eat it all. I even had to throw some on the compost pile because it turned to mush in the fridge drawer. I just didn't think it would be good dehydrated. Now I'm kicking myself because it came out beautifully as you can see. It's paper thin and crispy. I'm going to put it in the food processor and powder it. It's delicious added to homemade soups. In fact any of the dehydrated vegitables make wonderful soup, just toss in a bit of this and a bit of that and simmer. The flavors seem to be much more concentrated. You can mix a few things together and make your own vegitable stock powder.

The fruits are good to just munch on as snacks or they can be reconstituted in water and baked in pies. Tomorrow I'll be dehydrating banana chips. A jar of banana chips don't last long though. Josh and I can't leave them alone.

Many people preserve their harvests by hot canning everything. It involves long hot hours standing in front of the stove. Just NOT my cup of tea at all. Then the jars take up a lot of room. I still have a lot of jars but more produce can fit into each one. That one jar on the right contains 4 fairly large cucumbers! Everythng goes a long way. I also add one or two oxygen absorber packets to each jar. They say an unopened jar will last about 30 years this way.

The dehydrator I have is the Excalibur 9 tray model. It was expensive but everyone says it's the best. I was apprehensive about getting it because I really don't like cooking and messing around in the kitchen. I thought it was going to be just one more chore. Well, it's turned out to be a real joy. It's easy to just slice the produce, lay it on the trays, turn the dial to the correct temperature setting and let it go all day, - while I do other more fun things, like building rock walls and dove cotes :)
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