Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Does anyone have a sharp mandoline?

This morning a friend and I went to this class on preserving food. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about canning , freezing and dehydrating food. Dorothy Smith, the county director for the University of Calif. Cooperative Extension was a great speaker and gave us a lot of information.
Canning is wonderful but time consumming. You have to really love canning food. It's very satisfying to "put up" your own vegetables and fruit. All those beautiful jars of produce are there later in the year when they are gone from your garden.
Dehydration is inexpensive and easy. It doesn't require a hot stove or a freezer to produce great results. Of all the ways that we can preserve food, I think I like drying the best. It's certainly the easiest and has the least chance of becoming toxic. It's the oldest form of preserving and there are many ways to do it. She talked about the two that she liked the best. You can sun dry outside which can take a couple of days, or you can buy a dehydrator that works off of electricity and is much faster. I would think that most people might want the dehydrator because it's faster and you can control the air-circulation and the heat. Drying time for most fruit or veggies in a dehydrator is only 1 to 4 hours. That's a plus for people who work or have busy schedules.
I'm going to try some "drying" soon because it's so easy and look at the beautiful, colorful assortment of veggies that Dorothy brought as examples. You can use these all year in soups and casseroles, etc. You can keep them in the cupboard or if you like , the refridgerator.
If you click on any of these photos you can see them closer. They are absolutely beautiful and some can be used in collages or on wreaths, if they are thin and dry enough. Just look at them. Some are like small works of art. I had no idea that preserving food could be so artistic. By the way, a Mandoline is a slicer that will give you thin even slices of food to dry.
Clockwise, from the upper left are: Crooked neck squash, Sweet potatos, mushrooms, squash, onions and bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatos, tomatoes and in the middle are onions and bell peppers. Yum! Don't you just want to make soup?...., and then there is all the fruit to think about: Dried apples, pears, apricots, peaches, pineapple, cherries, etc. ..., Oh my gosh, I think I need to go have a piece of fruit right this minute.
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  1. Ohhh how pretty! I think I would have to give a lot of thought to putting anything outside to dry. No doubt one of our forrest critters would saunter into the yard and eat it....lol

    My grandma used to dry her apples and other various fruits on a wooden stand that she had my uncle make for her infront of her wood stove. All it amounted to was two wooden sides with holes drilled into them so she could slip dowel rods into holding her apple rings.

    Although the canning jars lined up in the cupboard when the cold wind blows looks mighty inviting... I prefer freezing our drying. You done went and made this girl hungry for veggie soup.

  2. Farm Lady,
    I just love your post about preserving your own foods.

    My mama taught me how to can and freeze goodies from the garden. I haven't done any dehydration though, except herbs. A friend gave me an extra dehydrator that she had and I enjoy using it. I have to venture out into those lovely veggies that you have posted.

    Happy Canning!
    Plant Lady

  3. It is pretty, I have a cousin who has a dehydrator and loves it. It's a great method not dependent on a freezer and also lasts longer and is safer than jars. bingo, good post!


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