I’ve been contemplating food storage lately; canning and freezing are great ways to preserve produce from summertime for winter, but they aren’t very easy to store. I garden quite a bit in the summer, and then store up garden food for the rest of the year. Last year I filled a few shelves with canned jars (glass isn’t the most convenient to store or move), and completely packed my freezer.
Last year I canned: Chili, Green Beans, Applesauce, Raspberry Jam, Blueberry Jam, Blackberry Jam, Strawberry Jam, and Pasta Sauce. In addition, I froze: Sweet Corn, meats, breads, and some Green Peppers.
We went through the Corn, Green Beans and Pasta Sauce lightening fast (note to self: prep double the amounts for next year!) and I still have plenty of Jams and Chili left over. That tells me about what I will need to do differently this summer in preparation for next year. The Jams made great Christmas gifts last year, especially as a “hostess” gift for the places we went.
But this year I’m adding a new dimention: Dehydration.
We enjoy Dried Bananas, Dried Peaches, Beef Jerky, Croutons, Raisins, Dried Cherries, Dried Pineapple, but they are very expensive to buy consistently and contain a lot of preservatives. I think I would enjoy making them myself as well as new things like: Bagel Chips, Fruit Rolls, Chicken Jerky, Peppers, Carrots, and many other fruits and vegetables.
Here are some of my first attempts from today: Bananas, Canned Pineapple, Nectarines and a Fruit Roll mixture
– Remove Pit
– Remove Skin
– Cut to 1/4″ to 3/8″ slice
– Add 1 cup of water + 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
– Let sit for about 2 minutes before draining (this maintains the color)
– Spread out on rack
– Slice bananas to 1/4″ to 3/8″
– Pretreat with “ascorbic acid solution” (I used Pineapple juice from below)
– Let sit for about 2 minutes in “solution”
– Drain and spread out on dehydration rack
I’m experimenting with pre-canned pineapples that were canned in 100% of their own juice. I have gotten cans of them for extremely good prices through couponing and I don’t see any reason they couldn’t be dried for a change of texture…
I decided to make a fruit roll (or fruit leather) so that I wouldn’t need to waste anything
– My mix included: A handful of frozen Blackberries, Pineapple juice (used above), Nectarine skins (from above), a Banana, about a Tbsp of the Lemon-Water mix (from above) and about a Tbsp of Honey (just for a little extra sweetness)
– Add to blender and blend until smooth
– Pour into Fruit roll tray (came with the Dehydrator, extras can be purchased online)
I tasted the mix before pouring it into the tray and it was fantastic – I hope it turns out!
I set the Dehydration unit to 135° and a timer for 6 hours (I will check it then, but I’m guessing they will take more like 10-12 hours to be done).
So far, the garage (my unit is on top of my spare stand-up freezer) smells slightly of fermented fruit, so I’m glad I didn’t leave it inside the house. It also makes about as much noise a microwave when it’s on (which might be annoying after several hours in the house).
If you are interested in Dehydration, here are a few sites I found very helpful (and simple):
How to Make Dried Fruit (a simple overview)
How to Dry Fruit From the Garden (methods and recipes)
Storing Dried Foods
Easy Food Dehydrating (includes nutritional information and other tips)
Home Grown (dehydrating bagel chips and croutons)