Friday, June 29

Time, Tide and Dehydrating Veggies Wait for No Man/Woman

Dehydrated Corn
You see, when you're planning a garden in January, the mind plays tricks on you. Gone are the memories of physically planting, pruning, weeding, watering, and harvesting. It's all those pretty pictures in the catalogs that tempt you into imagining all the glorious vegetables (sans work) you'll be enjoying from the upcoming harvests (again, sans work).  Well... suffice to say, seeds were planted, watered, weeded, and, harvesting has begun -- and, let's just say that I'm not interested in looking at seed catalogs, at the moment.  Too busy taking care of business.  The corn on the left has been dehydrated and we'll get to them, later.

The container garden has been non-stop giving of its pattypan squash, green beans, Roma tomatoes, and lettuces.  Beans are on their fifth harvesting. Pattypan squash on left with a cherry tomato plant in front, bean tower in center, and Roma tomatoes at right. You can just see the bolting lettuce plants right of center of the bean tower.


The Lasagna beds were built in March and are filled with zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. The young men who help me can't get over the way the beds were planted and how easy it was, so they made a few for their mother and have become total converts.



Of course, with the produce coming in, that means it's time for canning, freezing, and my favorite, dehydrating.  The Roma tomatoes make the best spaghetti sauce and so I couldn't wait for a full Roma harvest to get started and supplemented with some Early Girls.


When I make my sauces for dehydrating,  it is just the tomatoes, onions, some fresh herbs and garlic, and I don't add water. When it's time to serve the sauce, I'll add other flavorings and spices to suit the meal.  Once the sauce has been reduced by half, I run it through the blender and pour it on my dehydrator trays to make a leather.


It's reconstituted equally, one cup of dehydrated sauce to one cup of liquid. Each tray holds two cups, so it's easy to keep track. And, with just two of us, here, one cup is enough. When it's easy to peel off the tray, but pliable, it's ready for storage. You can either wrap it up in some plastic wrap or cut it in strips before putting into smaller bags.


I simply divided my leather by half a tray and rolled it up in Saran Wrap packages, which were labeled, dated, and then placed in large containers. You can do it this way or simply put your packages in the freezer. I haven't had a problem storing my leathers on my shelves. Do what makes you comfortable.


I didn't plant corn but my sister bought a bag of sixty ears.  To prepare them for dehydrating, they were roasted in the solar oven(s), and then it was on to the next step of dehydrating.  I tried a variety of quick-made solar ovens to take advantage of our brilliant sunny day, and it was a great test for them, as well. I'll be having the visitors at my Solar cookout making their own and wanted to try them out.

Global Sun Oven, Two bags 6 Ears each

Top Left: 20"x30" 'hat'; Lower Left: 18" foil 'hat'
Right: EZ-3 adaptation with 12" sides and 15" height

The Global Sun Oven(R) cooked two batches of 12 ears in four hours. The corn was placed, husks on,  in oven bags, tied, and placed on the oven floor. The larger 'hat' oven cooked five ears in 4.5 hours. There was no front extension and the oven bag was placed directly on the base. The front foil 'hat' oven cooked five ears of corn in just under 4.5 hours and it was the smallest with corn extending beyond the base. In both 'hat' ovens, I rotated the corn halfway through cooking.  Point is, they cooked the corn; but, if making them more permanent, I would definitely make them large enough to handle this size package. The EZ-3 adaptation (not covered with an oven bag) and a Copenhagen designed cooker (not visible in picture) on the right cooked five ears of corn in 3.75 hours, with the corn rotated halfway through cooking. There was also a front reflector and the bag of corn was raised on twigs.

Next step was removing the husks and silks and cutting the kernels off the cob, which were then placed in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Corn can get very small when fully dehydrated and you either need a screen for the tray, as shown below...


or, the best thing ever, a single layer of fine cheesecloth to stop the dried kernels from falling through. Don't worry about cutting a center hole. It's not needed and then you can lift the whole thing up like a little cloth bag without losing any kernels. I'm not saying I invented the process but I haven't seen it on any dehydrating sites and just think it's the cat's meow for easy dehydrating of small items. The temperature is so low, you don't have to worry about burning.  I do trim the outside edges against each tray so that it doesn't catch when you're checking and rotating trays.


You have to keep checking your veggies so they don't get too dry. You're looking for a kind of leathery sensation without any moisture.  


These are finished and put in a bowl so that they can be stirred until the heat is gone before being put in the storage jars or vacuum-sealed packets.  Using only 40 ears of corn, the end result was 4.5 quarts of dehydrated corn, ready for whatever recipe is around the corner.



To rehydrate, just add an equal amount of warm water to the dehydrated vegetable and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Most vegetables can be rehydrated in less time and others added directly to soups and stews and they'll rehydrate during the cooking process, as long as there is enough liquid to match the amount of dried ingredients; but, corn needs a full overnight rehydration, in my opinion, to be at its best. I like to add a little more water to guard against stopping the rehydration too soon. As you can see, there is little or no difference when it's done, that way.  I hope you'll give dehydrating a try, this year.

21 comments:

  1. That's all so beautifuL! And yes... tons of work!

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    1. Well, it was most certainly tons of work back in the days when I first started out in life; but, with today's innovations and streamlined ways of doing things, it's less tiring than it was -- until the crops come in! I'm having a very busy summer, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by, Paloma. Have a great day!

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  2. Are you telling me that the corn on the right in that last picture is rehydrated??? I'd have never guessed. It looks like it was just cut off the cob! I'm impressed.

    You definitely are busy and keeping out of trouble these days. I'm so jealous of your garden.

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    1. Yes, I am telling you that very thing! Isn't it amazing (or, should I say, a-maize-ing!). Like many things, it's easier to understand when you see results, which is why I posted the picture. But, corn definitely needs an overnight soak (like dried beans). That's why I like to make my veggie mixes to thicken foods. Works like a charm. Thanks for stopping by -- now, back to the tomatoes!

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  3. Wow, I'd love that garden of yours!!! You are an amazing lady!

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    1. Thanks. You could make one of these, this fall, and be ready for all those goodies next spring!

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  4. All of that garden fresh produce reminds me of the days when I had space to plant a beautiful full garden. I no longer have a garden, but I do dehydrate a lot of produce. It's a great way to preserve the bounty.

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    1. I've been owner of enough different properties to really appreciate the yard space I have, today. One of my reasons for moving here was there was absolutely no space for gardening where I was. After losing two freezers full of foods, I switched to dehydrating and never looked back.

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  5. Thanks for sharing. When I first saw a notice about your work on the solar cookers world network fb site I was drawn by solar cooker and dehydration. I erroneously thought you were using the solar cooker to dehydrate. Am very glad I stopped by and will be sure to make regular visits. your doing a great job of inspiring folks to get closer to their own food security. David Whitfield www.cedesol.org

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    1. Thank you, David. I have used my GSO for dehydrating but only when there's small amounts to get done. The garden is producing far too much food and I need the solar oven for other things. Look forward to your visits.

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  6. The Pres cans sauce for us using Romas too! They are the best...so meaty...but we prefer Big Boys for tomato sandwiches!...:)JP

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    1. My Big Boys are just starting to come in and can't wait for the first sandwich. I love the Romas for the sauce but nothing beats a Big Boy sandwich... nothing. Of course, I've been enjoying some Early Girl sandwiches during the wait! Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. i just bought a dehydrator to make jerky for teddy and it turns out i am drying everything! mushrooms, strawberries, celery, onions and on and on! i love it. i make about 7 10 inch pizzas from the recipe. you could easily get many more smaller ones. and it is so easy to make!

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    1. Great, on both counts. Check out my powdered eggs post, after this one. You're gonna love it! Definitely gonna do that recipe. If I can bring it down to about 7" that's more than enough for people to test something. Thanks, again, for the recipe. Hope you don't forget to make Teddy some jerky!

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  8. What is the shelf life of the tomato leather freezer vs root cellar?

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