Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Archive for the ‘Dehydrating’ Category

Dehydrating winter squash

When I rotated our cold room produce there were a few winter squash that were reaching the end of their storage life. The Hubbard, butternut and buttercup squash that were starting turn around the stem ends were roasted, puréed, dehydrated, ground into powder and moved to dry goods storage.

I find that dehydrated wInter squash re-hydrates well and can be used in any dish that calls for puréed squash or pumpkin. I have also found that most winter squash is interchangeable in pies, quick breads, soups and stews.

The process I use to create squash powder can be found in the images below.

Large Hubbard squash from our harvest this past fall
Seeds and associated pulp removed
Seeds ready to be washed and dried for planting next year and
pulp set aside to feed to the chickens
Roasted chunks ready to be mashed and placed on dehydrator sheets
Dehydrator loaded and ready to start. For my type of dehydrator
this process will take about 10 hours.
What the squash will look like at the end of the process
Place the dehydrated squash in a blender and process to a fine powder
Dried squash powder
place the powder in an airtight container and store away from direct sunlight.
For most recipes mix 1/4 cup of powder into about 3/4 cups of warm water and let sit for about 15 minutes before usinig.
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Apple Chips

the apple harvest is in so it is time to process our sweet bounty. Earlier this month I made 12 pints of unsweetened applesauce, started a batch of hard cider and used all of my scraps to start a large batch of apple cider vinegar (ACV). We use the apple sauce for snacking and as a replacement for fats in baked goods, and the ACV in cooking, as a hair rinse and in some of the soaps we make.

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Yesterday I cored and sliced about a dozen apples 1/8 of an inch thick (a mandoline is a real time saver for this step). Then payed the slices out on dehydrator trays and lightly sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and processed them in the dehydrator for 10 hours.   The resulting product is a crunchy chip with a concentrated apple flavor, low in calories that takes care of a sweet tooth. I will be making a larger batch of these little treats this weekend and storing them in air tight containers for winter treats.

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End of Vegetable Garden Season

The hard frosts at night have started and the daytime temperatures are sliding towards the low 30s this week, so it was time to harvest some of the last vegetables in the gardens and start bed cleanup and  fertilization.

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This morning I cleaned and blanched a laundry basket full of kale that will be dehydrated and then ground into powder for winter recipes. Then started shredding cabbage that would not fit in the sauerkraut crock for dehydration as well. 

Our gardens have been good to us an will keep us fed through the winter, but I will really be glad when all of our food prep is done….now I need to figure out what to do with all of the sweet peppers….

Small batch canning

It is just about the end of our vegetable gardens for this year, which allows for some small batch processing of special treats. Today I made apple chips, pickled jalapeños and a few jars of spicy green tomatoes.

Later today I will be pulling out the last of the kale and dehydrating it for the winter.

Preparing for the cold months to come

Harvest season is in full force on our homestead so there is little time to do anything other than can and dehydrate the bounty. After a couple of weeks of picking and processing the fruits and vegetables from the garden we were able to escape for a long weekend with friends to a lakefront cabin for a bit of kayaking and a lot of talking. We returned home to a lot of ripe produce, especially tomatoes that needed to be picked and processed.

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Pickled hot peppers, green beans and pasta sauce canned from yesterday’s harvest

Today I prepared and canned green beans, eggplant and tomato pasta sauce, pickled hot peppers, and also filled the dehydrator with tomato slices and skins that were processed into tomato powder and stored as slices for winter dishes.

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Dehydrated tomato slices, 1/4 inch pieces dried down to these thin wafers. They make a great snack if the slices are sprinkled with an herb salt prior to being dehydrated.

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We try to not waste anything in our kitchen. These dehydrated skins will be ground and added to the tomato powder.

I also dehydrated some almond pulp leftover from almond milk we made, and started a batch of goat cheese (goat milk was from a farm near the camp).

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Dried almond pulp that will be ground into flour

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Ground almond flour ready to be used in baked goods

It is alsotime to start working on vinegars for dressings and marinades. This season I am making chive, wild violet, peach, pear and apple vinegars. The fruit vinegars are a great way to use up skins and other bits that are left over from canning projects.

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Dehydrated tomato slices, peach vinegar on its second ferment, apple cider vinegar on the first ferment, and tomato powderthat is used as a replacement for tomato paste

 

Now it is time to clean the kitchen and kick back for a while.

Hope you all have had a productive day.

Summer kitchen

It is currently the point in the growing season where I spend a large portion of my time in the kitchen. This morning I filled the dehydrator with some of the items picked from our gardens last night (they will be used in soups and stews), started some pasta sauce in the crockpot (will can it in pint containers tomorrow), made some eggplant meatless balls for the freezer, made a peach crumble (oven was already on so why not), and started a batch of peach scraps fermenting  for salad dressings and marinades.

What has your day been like?

 

Carrot pesto: moving towards zero waste

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The hard never ending rains this summer required that we use everything that we are able to harvest this year. This morning I picked carrots, green beans, egg plant, tomatoes and cabbage. The cabbage is now sliced seasoned and in the crock to ferment. Carrots, egg plant and green beans will be prepped for the dehydrator – I really prefer dehydrated veggies in winter soups and stews.

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This morning carrot greens were turned into pesto – several batches for the freezer and one put aside for a pasta dish on Sunday.

What yummy things are you making today?

preparing for the colder months

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It was time to thin the kale this morning. The cutting rendered 8 pints of greens and a half gallon container chopped stems for fermenting.

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While waiting on the pressure canner I blanched yesterday’s green bean harvest and placed them in the dehydrator for drying. We really prefer to use dehydrated green beans rather than frozen in winter soups and stews. For the next month or so our dehydrator, pressure cooker and water bath canner will be running almost daily.

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Cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers

4898A25B-E41E-448D-A467-32AB0557DE90Between other cooking and canning projects I restocked the pantry with some speciality crackers. These cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers are full of protein and fiber and have some rich flavor in every bite. I like to make these crackers when I have to be in the kitchen because they take two days to complete from start to finish. Not that they are difficult to make, but there is a fair amount of wait time between the mixing of the batter and the actual production of the cracker. 

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Generally a batter is made, poured into mini bread pans then baked. The cool beard is then placed in the refrigerator over night so that it easer to slice. The next day the bread is sliced very thinly and placed on dehydrator trays. The slices are then dehydrated on the jerky setting  until Crisp (in my dehydrator this takes about 4 hours).

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These crispy, slightly sweet treats are wonderful served with almost any type of soft cheese. The recipe that I use can be found on the Wives with Knives blog. This recipe will makes a little over six dozen crackers.

One of the things that I like to to do is package the finished crackers into appetizer size packages and store them in the pantry so they can be brought out when unexpected guest arrive or for that special family meal. If you would rather have small batches of crackers on hand, then just freeze the baked breads and defrost and prepare the crackers on an as needed basis.

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If you try the recipe noted above I strongly suggest that you use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the crisps. This will reduce the time needed to watch an oven, address any uneven thickness in the slices, and do away with any possibly of the sugars in the crisps burning. 

Herbal salts

Basil
The herbs gardens are starting to produce well, so I started making herbal salts today. The salts tasty and very easy to make. Today basil salt was on the agenda — it is wonderful on sliced tomatoes.

To make the salts add a large bunch of your favorite herb to a food processor and add an equal amount of sea salt to the herbs. Pulse the mixture until the herbs are finally chopped and well incorporated with the salt. Spread the mixture out thinly on dehydrator sheets and process on herb setting until dry. Run the the dried salt through the food processor again to break up and store in an air tight container.

Gathering season

Gathering season has started. The dehydrator is running almost daily and canning will start next week. This year between the mild winter and drought this summer, we have more wild life than I care for during growing season. The deer ate most of the low hang fruit and nuts, a variety of creatures finished off the hazelnuts, pears, carrots, and beets before they were ready to pick. The birds fought us for cherries and blueberries. We really don’t mind feeding wildlife, but we wish that they would share.

Although we lost a fair amount of fruit and nuts this season, the vegetables out did themselves. We have had several harvest of kale, summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, kidney beans, cucumbers and herbs. The pie pumpkins came in early and large, and potatoes came in on schedule. Both are sitting in the utility room seasoning before being moved to winter storage.

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For the past week the dehydrator has been working overtime to process various vegetables and herbs for winter soups and stews.

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Yesterday I processed a large batch of kale into a dried powder for use in smoothies and soups.

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A few of the kale stems were also given to the dogs as treats…for some reason our dogs love veggies.

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Apples are also starting to mature, so the first batch of apple cider vinegar has been started in the crock.

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Do you grow your own produce? If so, how are your gardens doing and how do you process the harvest?

End of harvest stock

The gardens have now been cleared, the herbs and vegetables either canned or dehydrated, so it was time to create some vegetable broth and stock powder for the fall and winter soups and stews.

veggie broth

Today I made a container of vegetable stock powder that I like to use to season beans and some winter squash soups.  As well as a vegetable stock powder which is great for stews and a number of soups.

stock powder

The following is the stock power recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium parsnips, thinly slices
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cabbage leave, cut into small pieces
  • small bunch of parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dry dill
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. Wash and dry all vegetables.
  2. Arrange the vegetables on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 135F for an hour, then continue to dehydrate at 115F for about six additional hours. Check often and remove vegetables as they dry.
  3. Add the dried and cooled vegetables to a blender and process until a fine crumble is created.
  4. Pour crumble into a bowl and stir in seasonings.
  5. Store mixture in air tight containers or sealed bags.
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