Dehydrate & Downsize

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I don’t use my dehydrator as much as I could but after my recent success of drying onion and making onion powder I decided to experiment a little further.

2015-07-29 01The labels on the commercial stock powder in the pantry reveal that the two main vegetable ingredients are onion and celery so I am planning to have a go at making my own stock powder. There is celery growing in the garden in abundance so I decided to try drying some.

001Here are the four trays filled with the stalks and leaves ready for drying.

And the final result…………

001Here is a tiny Vegemite jar which is about 3/4 filled with 37g (a little over 1 ounce) of powdered dried celery.  This is the yield from a full (albeit small) bunch of celery from our garden.  Along with some of the onion powder, this is the beginning of my home-made stock powder.

The space-saving advantages of dehydrating are amazing.  I am sure some things lend themselves to this process better than others and I am keen to discover other ways I can use the dehydrator.  One of the next things on my list is ginger.

Do you have a dehydrator?  What have you dried in it?

Kitchen Kapers

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I have spent the best part of today in the kitchen.  The first thing was to juice the 60 limes I picked from the tree.  Some is in ice-cube trays in the freezer and the remainder in a jug in the refrigerator.  I will freeze this in trays as well once the others are completely frozen and can be removed from the trays and placed in a bag.

Next were 5 pumpkins from the garden.  Unfortunately, I cannot leave them on the vine until the stalks dry out completely because some of the wildlife starts to eat them once they are mature.  Because I have to pick them before the stalk has withered, this means that they will not store.  So my plan was to cut and peel them (a mammoth job), roast in the oven and then mash the pumpkin.  I have frozen it in batches so that it can be made into soup as required.  By just freezing the mashed pumpkin I save space in the freezer as compared to making and freezing the soup.

I also sorted through the freezer and pulled out this bag of chopped onion tops.

2012-04-22 01These are from the onions I grew last winter but our winter is not long enough for the tops to die down before I have to harvest the onions.  Otherwise our wet weather starts and they would just rot in the ground.  I diced all of the onions and froze them in 150g packs and I could not bear to waste the fresh green tops so chopped them and pt the bag of them in the freezer while I considered what to do with them.

2012-04-22-02I decided to thaw them out and then put them on the trays in the food dehydrator.  My plan is to dry them completely and then grind them in the spice grinder to make my own onion powder for seasoning. I will post about the success or otherwise of this venture in a day or so.

The other thing I retrieved from the freezer was a bag of cherry tomatoes.  These were picked from the neighbour’s garden a couple of months ago when they were away and I didn’t have time to do anything with them apart from wash, hull and freeze them.

I found a tomato sauce recipe on the internet and made a couple of adjustments to suit the ingredients I had.  I cooked up the sauce and 1.9 kg of cherry tomatoes made up into 1.75 litres of sauce.

Here it is – bottled and ready to add to the stock cupboard.

2012-04-22 03I made 3 batches of muffins – lime and coconut, fig and almond as well as banana ones.  This is some of them packed and ready to freeze.

2012-04-22 04While the oven was on I made another zucchini quiche.  We have an abundance of eggs and since this uses 5 eggs it is a good way to use some up.

I had planned to make so more fresh pasta – using eggs again – but the day was almost over.  I will save that job for Wednesday which is a public holiday here (Anzac Day).

Most of my cooking and preparation was a direct result of produce from our garden, either fresh or frozen.  Since we are blessed to be able to grow this food I feel it is important to make sure that we use it to the best of our ability.

Another Step to Self-reliance

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Here is my latest acquisition – a food dehydrator.

2012-02-02 01I have dreamed of getting one for many years but it has never quite made to the top of my list of priorities.

My girlfriend had this one which she no longer used and asked if I was interested so I bought it from her.  I have lots of ideas of things I will be able to do but my first project on the weekend will be to pick the ripe bell chillies and dehydrate them.  I intend to grind them once they are dried, using the spice grinder attachment for my food processor.  Hopefully, powdered chilli will be another thing that I can cross off my shopping list forever.

Do you have a dehydrator?  I would love to hear how you use it.  Please share your ideas, successes and any failures.