Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Dehydrate Morels

If you are ever lucky enough to have more morels than you can use, you can preserve some for later use. Dehydrating them is a good choice because you are not reliant on a power source to keep them safe if you freeze them and they don’t take up valuable space in your freezer this way either. 

Morels come out of the soil with some of the dirt still on them plus whatever you might pick up in the harvesting process. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly before you preserve them. Use care though, because these little morsels are fragile and will break easily. Let them air dry on a paper towel while you set up the dehydrator. Use 135 as your temperature setting.

With any batch dehydrating, you want the pieces to dry evenly. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure your pieces are all of comparable size. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise once or twice and compare them to one another as you go. Trim where necessary. 

Place the pieces on your trays evenly, in a single layer and so that none of the pieces are touching one another. IF they are touching during the drying process, they will likely stick to one another when you try to remove them. This will contribute to further breakage of your morel pieces. 

The process takes between four and eight hours, depending on the size of the pieces and the humidity in the air. After fours, check every hour so the pieces don’t become over-dried and unusable. When they are finished, slip them into mason jars, zippered plastic bags or vacuum sealed bags. Store them in a cool, dark place and use them within a few months of processing. Label the containers with a date and the contents to make using them before they expire easier.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dehydrating Blackberries

Blackberries are not yet in season but due to the overly arm and premature spring we are having, I notice they are already blooming where I live. This means in about 8 weeks, give or take a few and barring any mid-to-late spring frosts, I will be out and about collecting blackberries. 

I have made jam with blackberries. I have frozen them by the bagful and used them from smoothies, cobblers and crumbles. I am now interested in finding other uses because my homestead is packed with wild blackberries. This year I will be dehydrating them. Dehydrated berries need only be rehydrated and they can be used in any recipe just like fresh berries.

Pick enough berries to fill the trays of your dehydrator. Rinse and pat them dry. Remove all the stems and any imperfect berries, then spread them evenly on your dehydrator trays.

Set the dehydrator to 100 degrees allow berries to sit for 10 hours. They should be brittle when finished. Pour them into labeled mason jars and seal tightly, then store the jars in a cool, dark place to avoid discoloration of the fruit. 

When you are ready to use them, soak them in hot water for about 15 minutes and pour off the excess water. These can now be used to make muffins, pancakes or any other blackberry recipe.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Air Drying your Food

Ancient civilizations air dried their foods and many cultures still do today. Air drying is the simplest form of food preservation because it relies on nature and very little in the way of equipment. The method is a good choice for drying herbs, flowers, carrots, onions, peppers, celery, apples, Swiss chard and green corn.

Onions air drying

All you need is good air flow in low humidity place. If you don’t have a natural breeze, a fan will do. Just make sure no dust or other contaminants are blown onto the food.

You can set up your drying area almost anywhere – outdoors in the sun, in a clean garage, I the backseat of your car or on enclosed porch for example.

You can set anon-toxic screen across two chairs or saw horses and dry food on that. If you are worried about insects, you can cover it with another screen, clear plastic or piece of glass.

If you choose to dry your food outside, in addition to the risk of drawing insects, you have to watch the weather. The screens have to be brought in at the first hint of rain and every night so they are not rehydrated with the morning dew. 

To get even drying, cut all the pieces about the same size. Make sure none are more than ¼ to 3/8 inches thick. Store them in air tight containers like zippered plastic bags, heat sealed bags, mason jars or metal containers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get Ready to Can

Canning is something many of us do for the sheer enjoyment. Well, maybe not the enjoyment of the process, but we certainly for the end result. The freshness of the food, the quality of the ingredients we use and the time honored processes are something we all cherish.

Many people today are getting into food preservation for a variety of reasons. Some want to eat healthier diets. Others want to cut down of grocery expenses. And some are preparing for emergencies that might leave them without access to food and other supplies. Whatever reason compels you to contemplate canning your own foods, spring is a good time to start planning.

Many of you are also planning or even starting gardens now as you order seeds and buy plants, consider how much they will produce and whether or not you are growing enough to can. You can decide to preserve just the excess or to grow enough so that you can goods to last through winter and spring.

If you do not grow your own, you can still get good deals at local farmer’s markets and produce stands. Some grocery stores have good deals from time to time. Getting to know the sellers can help you get good deals too. 

Once you figure out what types of fruits and vegetables you want to grow, you can start planning the supplies you’ll need. Jars, lids, caps, canning pots and a good pair of tongs are the basics. If you are just getting started, get just one pot and a case of jars to try your hand with. If you are really enthusiastic, buy all the jars you find because you can always use them. 

Yard sales are a great place to buy jars inexpensively. You will have to buy new lids for them but that is something you have to do with each use because most lids are not reusable.

My own collection of jars consists of about 200 quart jars, 100 pints and 50 or so jelly jars. I also have half a dozen half-gallon jars that I like to use for whole dill pickles. I have yet to use them all for a single season but one of these days I will!

Having your supplies ready to go will be an inspiration. When you begin to harvest from your garden or when you see the first road side stands, you won’t have to hesitate because you already have everything you need to start preserving the freshness of summer.

Circle 8 Anthologies Featuring my Short Stories

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | JCpenney Printable Coupons