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.