Tuesday, September 23, 2008

God Bless The Dehydrator!!!

Did you know that you don't have to peel tomatoes before dehydrating? I didn't either, otherwise we might have ended up with 10 pounds of dehydrated tomatoes and NO salsa.
Actually, to a very surprising extent, I'm having a marvelous time with canning this year. I've made pasta sauce, pizza sauce, spiced blueberry honey jam, mint jalapeno jelly, 2 types of salsa, pickled pumpkin, red onion relish, bruschetta in a jar, and plain canned tomatoes. Part of it I blame on this book:
borrowed from the library and so full of great ideas that I finally had to break down and order my own copy as our library was getting a bit snarky about wanting their copy back. Wait until they find out about the blueberry jam spill...

Of course, a large part of my gardening/preserving/canning insanity can be chalked up to getting prepared for a year without processed foods. As canning and dehydrating are both "processes," let me define our rules:

1. No ingredients not easily identifiable or that I couldn't use in my own kitchen.
2. No corn syrup, PERIOD.
3. Nothing we couldn't actually make or obtain for ourselves. For instance, I can't make an egg but I grew up on a farm & raised chickens and could, theoretically, obtain eggs for myself. Same for dairy--I could milk a cow (and have actually done so), but our neighborhood covenants strictly forbid 1000-pound farm animals in the back yard. Not that it wouldn't be good for the lawn, but that's another story.

So, things I can process without chemicals are fair game. We thought about trying to grow most of our own food, but we live in a state with a very recognizable winter, so it was either turn the ENTIRE backyard into a garden and can like a maniac (and learn to eat beans as our only source of protein EVER), or lighten up and just try for no preservatives.

In the meantime, I continue to savor Digiorno's spinach and mushroom pizza every chance I get....


Abby said...

Have you tried "Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning"? It's on my list of books to check out. Another good one is "In Defense of Food".

Re no processed food, what about refined sugar?

Your experiments in living sound a lot like how we lived when the kids were small. I raised all our vegetables and some fruits, even raised (and butchered!) chickens. It was a lot of work, but very satisfying, especially in the middle of winter when everything on the supper table was produced by my own two hands.

Mandy said...

I had never heard of a Dehydrator before your post, so it was interesting to see what you can do with one.
Abby asked about refined sugar. Are you not able to get hold of unrefined sugar in the US? Its much nicer, really tasty. I use it for baking, since we don't add sugar to tea, or coffee unless a visitor requires some.

Ilix said...

What kind of Dehydrator is that?!?
I was going to look into a few types. I am drying apples in the oven lately and it takes so looong.
I am wanting one, and thinking that it may be a good wedding present to myself..... Thanks again for your great advice and happy wishes.

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...