Monday, August 23, 2010
It was a beautiful morning with temperatures in the mid 70's. Of course it quickly turned into a hot and muggy Monday. But for a little while it was actually comfortable to sit outside with a cup of coffee and the dog and cat for company!
The fall garden spots are coming right along. This morning I got a couple of nice surprises. The spaghetti squash is putting out runners so it got its very own growing cage this morning.
And then I saw color! One of the cucumber plants has blooms on it and is starting to climb up the cage it is in. These are heirloom Armenian Cucumbers. From what I understand they really aren't cucumbers at all but in the melon family. They put out really big fruit. Regardless of what family they are in they taste like cucumber and I am planning on making my first dill pickles when they are ready. The only pickles I actually have put up in the past are bread and butter pickles. I might put up a few more jars of them as well, but we will have to see how many cucumbers we get first. So anyway, this will be my first attempt at dill pickles. If any of you have a really good recipe you would like to share with me I would love to try it. Oh and speaking of recipes I am also looking for a dill pickle relish. Hey... a girls got to find her recipes where she can right? And what better way to find one than to ask all of you guys?
I was talking to a friend in the American Preppers Network chatroom the other night. We got to talking about tomato's. The subject wound up being about preserving tomato's. She has lots and lots of cherry tomato's ripe on the vine. I asked her if she had thought of dehydrating them. It is a great way to preserve most any kind of tomato. And this time of year, with it being so hot and all, it is one less thing you have to fire up the canner for. That gets an extra star in my book!
There are a couple of schools of thought on preparing your tomato's for the dehydrator. You can remove the skin from the tomato's or you can leave the skin on. The choice is yours. If you want to peel the tomato's just blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds and then plunge them in ice water. The skins should peel right off. If you decide to peel them you can save the skins and dehydrate them too. Then just grind them and use them when you are making tomato powder.
If you are using cherry tomato's you can just cut them in half and place them skin side down on the dryer tray. When you are using regular sized tomato's just slice them thin. Try and make your slices as uniform as possible so they will all dry at about the same rate. Place them on your dryer trays and make sure they are not touching each other. Let them dry for several hours. I can't tell you exactly how long it will take because all dehydrators are different. When they are dry take them off your trays and place them in an airtight container. Check them after about 24 hours and make sure they are dry through and through. If they aren't, just pop them back in the dehydrator for another hour or two. Store them in an airtight container until you are ready to use them. I store mine in vacuum sealed canning jars. It is really easy to do and like I said, you don't have to fire up the canner. What I usually do is to can what I will be needing for the next year and then I dry the rest of them.
When you are ready to use the dried tomato's, just take what you need out of the jar and rehydrate them by soaking them in water. A good rule of thumb is that tomato's and other veggies will "shrink" to about 1/4th of their size. You can use dried tomato's on pizza, put them in soups and stews and all sorts of things. If you want tomato powder all you do is take a few out of the jar and grind them up in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder. Just add water and tomato powder until you have the desired consistancy.
It's really easy to do... And I'm all about easy!
~~ Hey... I'm Just Sayin...~~