One of the things that I am going to focus on more this year is stockpiling food, toiletries, some medical supplies and other essentials. I already have a good stockpile of canned goods – spaghetti, baked beans, soups etc plus the essentials like toilet paper, cleaning products – which of course means plenty of bicarb soda, vinegar, soap making supplies and so on. Baking ingredients are pretty much taken care of as well along with pasta, herbs and spices and other condiments. There is always plenty of bottled fruit in the cupboards and hopefully if the vegie garden produces well there will be plenty of vegetables preserved as well. Many will be stored in the freezer or turned into pickles or chutneys but I also want to have some “shelf stable” vegetables which means dehydrating them.
Why shelf stable vegetables? Well if the power goes off for a considerable amount of time there is always the problem of the freezers not keeping everything frozen which could, in a worst case scenario mean that the food in the freezers will be lost….after all there is only so much you can use up before it’s not safe to use. Now while I would imagine that scenario might have a 1% chance of happening – as we do have solar power and a generator – sometimes events happen that are beyond our control. Recent floods in Queensland come to mind.
It’s also a very satisfying and safe feeling knowing that should money become tight for whatever reason or I can’t get to the supermarket there is plenty of food here to eat. I also think that preserving food should be a skill that everyone has. We shouldn’t have to rely on supermarkets for our food. Basic skills like budgeting, cooking, preserving and even gardening should be taught at schools in my opinion – after all we seem to be raising a generation who often believes that the only way you can get food is from a supermarket and that living on credit or beyond your means is an acceptable way to live. I won’t even go into what I think of supermarkets and how they treat farmers. Throw in the fact that I love to experiment and it’s pretty much a win, win situation.
I have already dehydrated onions and they worked brilliantly so today it was the humble carrot’s turn.
I bought several bags of carrots when I did the groceries the other day with the intention of dehydrating some if not all of them. At 99 cents a bag (each bag was a kilo) even with the cost of power to run the dehydrator it will still work out cheaper than buying dehydrated carrots. I’m working on the theory that if I run out of carrots, the price rises to a ridiculous level or I have none in the garden at least this way we can still enjoy them.
Following the instructions in my Dehydrating book you peel the carrots, cut them into 1/8 inch or 3 mm slices, water blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, chill in iced water and allow to drain, pat them dry then load the dehydrator trays. It says to dry for 12 to 18 hours at 120 degrees F. or 50 degrees C. and to keep rotating the trays until they are crisp and dry then store in air tight container.
I also found the other day a site dedicated to Prepping which gave instructions for Dehydrating Potato which is next on my list and I want to try dehydrating eggs.
I looked at powdered eggs in the supermarket the other day and they were nearly $6 for around 150 grams which, according to this article, is the equivalent to about a dozen eggs. With all the eggs I have sitting in the fridge surely they can’t be too hard to do. Some sites say to dehydrate raw eggs but others say to blend the egg and white together well and cook them in a non stick pan until they are done then dehydrate the cooked eggs. I’m leaning towards this method as I would think if there was any chance of any bacteria the cooking process would deal with it. I will let you know how I get on.
Finally my tomatoes are starting to ripen. So much for any thoughts I might of have of having home grown tomatoes for Christmas.
These are Brandywine tomatoes and I’m definitely growing them again next year…..although I will try to get them started sooner with the hopes of a longer season. I grew these from seed and they are a delicious tomato. Meaty, not to many seeds and big enough to fit (just) in my two cupped hands. These are big enough that one slice is half a sandwich and I have also found they aren’t too acidic which is lovely. I’m getting two or three every couple of days – picked when about half flushed with red and allowed to ripen on the kitchen bench, which means I have a constant supply for salads.
I am going to create another category for “Dehydrating Food” and each time I try something will put it into this category so if any one is interested and wants to see what I’m doing – or I have had a senior moment and forgotten just how to do something – finding the relevant posts should be easy.