OK by now y’all know I’m a dehydrating fool! I bought my dream appliance, an *Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator and I think I’m in love! I’ve put that thing through the paces, dehydrating all kinds of fruits and veggies. And I’ve even made Italian-flavored tomato leather to just roll out and plop on my homemade French-Bread Pizza. No rehydration needed! I think it’s safe to say I’ve been bitten by the dehydrating bug.
I use many dehydrated veggies in my wintertime simmering Endless Soup. And I use most of my dehydrated fruits as replacement for raisins in my Homemade Pumpkin Granola. But I’ve also been dehydrating veggies to grind and use for my own homemade powdered seasoning. I hate to pull out a large dehydrator to dehydrate such small portions, and it almost seems even my other small household model is a bit much. Check out today’s Homestead Hack, I’ve found a way to quickly dehydrate small amounts of food for FREE!
Today I’m continuing on with my series on Preserving Fresh Apples. My aunt shared many bushels of apples from her tree this year and I’m making sure to get them all preserved. I certainly don’t want that apple deliciousness to go to waste!
I’ve been busy making and canning apple pie filling, apple butter, applesauce, etc. But one of RancherMan’s favorite ways to enjoy these apples is for me to sprinkle apple slices with with cinnamon & sugar and dehydrate them into sweet apple chips. Check it out!
Gardening is a fun hobby, but c’mon there’s lots of work involved too. From planting seeds or tender seedlings to standing under that hot summer sun watering, weeding and harvesting.
Seeing that basket of fresh healthy produce is enough to make it all worthwhile of course. But oftentimes your harvest comes all at once as feast or famine. After putting in all of that tender loving care to your precious garden it’s important to make sure none of your hard works goes to waste.
For instance I harvested my onions when their growing time was up. But how to make sure a whole garden full of onions can be enjoyed instead of being sat aside deteriorating until they’re only compost worthy? You can bet your hat I won’t be letting my hard work go to waste!
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So, y’all know I’ve been virtually a dehydrating fool since I got my * Excalibur Dehydratorearlier this year. So much fun! I love to have all those dehydrated veggies in my pantry, their pretty sparkling glass jars lined up smartly on the shelves. I’ve been using those dehydrated goodies in my simmering soups when I make endless-soup lunches for RancherMan & me. And of course I also often rehydrate and use them in dishes I’m cooking.
I love that my healthy garden vegetables take up so little space now and no additional energy is needed for them to stay preserved. Recently I diced fresh tomatoes from my garden and dried them. I’ll use these tomatoes the same way I’d use canned diced tomatoes, a common item on my grocery list. But as I bundled up those pretty red dehydrated diced tomato jewels into a glass jar I got to wondering – wouldn’t it be cool if I could make salsa where all you do is add the boiling water, stir, rehydrate and eat? I sat out to experiment.
This summer has been pretty weird, garden wise. After suffering 3 consecutive years of gripping drought we got a little rain this year. Oh don’t get me wrong, we’re STILL in the drought and suffering from below-normal rainfall but at least rains have come sporadically this year. But here’s the crazier weird thing: we had hordes of grasshoppers the likes I’ve never seen before. They swooped in like a plague, sweeping through in clouds of flying hoppers & stripping each & every leaf off of most of my garden. Then they devour any sprouting leaves that try to recover thus killing the plant entirely.
But for some reason the grasshoppers didn’t eat the tomatoes. That blessing coupled with at least a little rainfall meant my tomatoes produced like gangbusters. I only planted two tomato bushes but they’ve produced even more heavily than they usually do.
My garden was practically decimated by the grasshoppers this year for some reason. I’ve never seen an infestation like this! They descended upon my garden and ate every leaf off of every plant in the pepper section, as well as most of the rest of the garden.
But for some reason they passed completely by my tomato bushes. And surprise of all surprises I’ve not even seen the dreaded tomato hornworm that I usually battle each summer either.
Add to that the fact that the weather this summer has been odd, unusually cool and with timely rains.The result has been the perfect storm for my tomatoes.
Although I only planted two tomato bushes this year they were my favorite heirloom San Marzanos . They always produce more than we can eat fresh and also plenty for us to preserve. This year is my first attempt at making a tomato leather in my dehydrator.
I recently acquired two different varieties of ripe plums that totaled about 30 lbs. Now I love fruit, and plums are some of my faves – so sweet, so juicy! But I’m going to have to preserve some of these plums if I’m going to keep them from going bad before they’re all consumed.
I love plum jelly but I’ve made so much jelly lately including apple butter, blueberry jam and even honeysuckle jelly that I don’t need any more in my stockpile. Even though I like to stock my pantry with jellies to sweeten my homemade yogurt, with only two of us at home these days I don’t want to make more than we can use. What else can I do with these delicious plums?
Hummm… I like to sweeten my homemade pumpkin granola with dried fruit and I recently used the last of my dehydrated jujube fruit. So maybe I can dehydrate these plums into raisin-sized chunks to naturally sweeten my granola?
Recently I had a large quantity of tomatoes to preserve. So I first made quite a bit of tomato sauce with them. Then I turned much of that tomato sauce into pasta sauce which I subsequently canned so we can enjoy it all summer long. I’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage from those tomatoes already. But am I through with them yet? Hummmm…
In the process of making my sauce I removed most of the seeds and tossed them into my compost before I even cooked the tomatoes down. When the tomatoes were cooked I used a sieve to separate the cooked tomatoes from the skins so I would have smoother sauce.
Now I read somewhere that instead of throwing them away you can dehydrate the skins and grind them into powder to use to thicken soups or make your own tomato paste. Oh yeah, I’m *SO* gonna do that!
Early spring is a great time to pick up cabbage. I came by quite a bit of cabbage this year. Cabbage keeps reasonably well in the fridge. And of course if you make sauerkraut you can preserve it for longer. But I don’t care for sauerkraut.
So I cooked with this fresh cabbage for quite a few nights. I sauteed onions in a small amount of olive oil and then cooked the cabbage sliced into strips until tender-crisp. It was delicious.
But you know even if something is delicious you can only force serve it to your family for supper for so long before there’s a rebellion in the household. I found that I really liked the taste of cabbage dropped into my endless soup. So I used some each week there for a while as well. But now the time had come to preserve it for longer term.
I’ve planted many bell pepper plants in my garden this year. But it’s still too early in the season for them to be producing. So I stumbled upon a great deal on bell peppers at the store recently. Yeah, I mean like 15 peppers for $0.99 kinda great deal! After I fainted and before I could catch a breath I grabbed up about 5 of them. Oh I suppose I could have grabbed more but I only wanted to buy what we would use.
Other than stuffed peppers(which RancherMan absolutely LOVES) I cook with bell peppers fairly often. Once I got home I found that I still had stuffed bell peppers in the freezer. Maybe I can just freeze them to use as an ingredient in my cooking? Hummm… my freezer space is pretty tight so there’s no room to chop & freeze them for later. What to do? I know – I’ll dehydrate them!