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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I just finished "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a bit late this summer, but I am going to try to start my own local challenge.<br><br>
I have some experience with canning. A lot with freezing. And none with dehydrating. Over the last few days, I have been scouring farms to purchase produce for some experimenting. I plan to do more gardening next year but figured I could try some things with purchased produce to see how it turned out before I risk my own harvest next year. Right now, I have the dehydrator going to dry two pints of grape tomatoes. I have no idea how that is going to turn out. But grape and cherry tomatoes are all over the place right now and I would like to whip out a jar of dry local tomatoes in the winter rather than buy some nasty pink-ish "tomatoes" at the grocery store.<br><br>
Today I am also going to find, buy, and freeze some green bell peppers. Yesterday, I roasted some red peppers, cut them up, and froze them.<br><br>
So much of this is experimental and I thought others doing the same thing could swap tips here so we do not all repeat the same mistakes.<br><br>
Earlier this week, I canned tomatoes. As I was getting to the bottom of the pan, there were not many tomatoes left, just juice. So I figured I would can a couple quarts of juice. The tomatoes were boiled for 5 minutes as my canning book instructs. But the same canning book says NOT to boil tomato juice for canning. Anyone know why? Is my canned juice going to be a bust? Will I even know or will it just kill us silently?<br><br>
I plan to can applesauce later this week. Any tips? I have done it before but found my sauce to be a bit bland. How could I spice it up without messing up the canning process?<br><br>
Anyone use a root cellar? What types of things have you been successful with? Any tips? I have a very damp basement but it dries out in the fall. I was thinking of rigging up an appliance box with a small dehumidifier (that would only be on until it got dry down there) to make a small experimental chamber. One big concern is bug infestation. Nothing lives down there except the BIGGEST EVER wolf spiders. Do they like produce?<br><br>
This afternoon, I am going to try my hand at preparing green beans and broccoli for freezing. That should be pretty easy.<br><br>
I have TONS of greens from our CSA this week. Any ideas? I usually make a vat of lentil soup and throw in all of my surplus produce, then freeze in pint jars. They are perfect to grab for lunch on a cold November day. Any other ideas?
 

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Welcome to the world of the "crazies" that refuse to buy $5 eggplants in the middle of winter! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Greens are easy to freeze - just blanch in water for a few minutes then squeeze out the excess water and freeze. You can also add them to spaghetti or pizza sauce to sneak them in for even the pickiest eater.<br><br>
You can easily add the spice of your choice to your applesauce. If you've found your previous attempts "bland" try a different apple. Someone at your local orchard should be able to recommend a good sauce apple. I personally prefer to add my spice when it is in the bowl opposed to before canning.<br><br>
I too have just started drying. I scored a totally sweet food dehydrator at the Salvo for $2!!! So far, my very favorite are peach slices. Yummy! I also made beef jerkey for dh, and it was gone in like 3 days. I guess you could say it was a hit! Totally going to make some up for Xmas presents!<br><br>
Do you have the ball blue book of preserving? It can help you with a lot of your questions. It's not just about canning, but it has sections on freezing and dehydrating.<br><br>
I'm going to make some stewed tomatoes this week. Yummy! They freeze well, but can get a little watery upon defrosting.<br><br>
Root cellars are big around here. I don't have one, but have lived in houses with one before. I'm pretty sure your wolfies will eat the bugs, not the produce. They're so scary, aren't they? You must be near me...I'm in SC PA.<br><br>
Anyway, good luck with your preserving! I love it. It's a dying art, and if there is ever a cataclysmic disaster, I know I can feed my family! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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hi!<br><br>
i don't blanch greens (or any veggies) to freeze and i've had great luck even eating them after they've hidden in our freezer for a couple of years. i find it easier to use part of a bag of veggies if they weren't blanched.<br><br>
i add some cinnamon and sugar or maple syrup to my applesauce...it reminds me of my childhood--we always made applesauce with a little sugar and cinnamon in it... yum.<br><br>
we have a root cellar and store carrots, potatoes, some winter squash and beets in it. we store our onions and garlic in our stairwell downstairs b/c it's a little warmer and less damp than the root cellar. we store butternut and delicata squash in our upstairs where it's 50 degrees and dry (that's what they like). check out _Root Cellaring_ by mike and nancy bubel. a great book! we've had problems with mice but not bugs. it's too cold for most bugs.<br><br>
i've never canned tomato juice, but when i can tomato sauce or puree i boil it for 25 minutes.<br><br>
have you seen the book Putting Food By? it's a good one.<br><br>
I haven't saved much food yet this summer, but it's now getting into harvest time when everything is ready!<br><br>
happy canning! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi all! More tomatoes yesterday! Only 11 pints though. I also made 8 quarts of lentil soup full of in-season veggies. I put them in quart mason jars and froze them.<br><br>
My grape tomatoes are STILL trying to dehydrate. I am not sure the energy being wasted in worth it?<br><br>
I did blanch the veggies. Anyone know why we are suppose to?<br><br>
I do have the Ball canning book and the root cellar book mentioned above. I wish the canning process was quicker. 40 minutes of having the canner boiling away per every 7 jars is hot and tedious. Oh well. Luckily I forget by the time next summer rolls around.<br><br>
"Root cellars are big around here. I don't have one, but have lived in houses with one before. I'm pretty sure your wolfies will eat the bugs, not the produce. They're so scary, aren't they? You must be near me...I'm in SC PA."<br><br>
Nope. Pretty far away. Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Wolfies apparently like to live lots of places. But I never saw one growing up near Detroit. Yuck!
 

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You should try some stewed tomatoes. I just made mine last night (with some delicious mac & cheese!). Now I have enough to last me throughout the winter.<br><br>
we don't have the spiders in the city, but when I was a kid, I can trace my fear of spiders to some softball sized hairy wolf spiders! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I'm shivery just thinking about them! I work in a barn you know...well, a renovated one anyway...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Yooper</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8964768"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So, I just finished "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a bit late this summer, but I am going to try to start my own local challenge.</div>
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I just finished the book, too, and I've been inspired in the same way. I have a giant box of Roma tomatoes from a local farm that I'm working on preserving in various ways.<br><br>
I have had two batches of tomato dehydrating experience. Once, several years ago, I dried slices of grape tomatoes until they were little almost black chips. They were never good for much except soups. Yuck. This time around I'm only drying until the slices are collapsed and withered. Then I freeze them individually on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container or freezer bag. This way they seem much more tomato-like!<br><br>
I'm also making and freezing my own fresh salsa (we prefer the taste to cooked salsa). It is working great, and tastes so good!<br><br>
I don't have a pressure cooker or large hot water bath apparatus, so I have been reluctant to actually can tomatoes. What I think I might do is blanch, peel, and freeze the tomatoes individually and then put them in bags or something. I've heard people do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>VeganCupcake</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8982547"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I just finished the book, too, and I've been inspired in the same way. I have a giant box of Roma tomatoes from a local farm that I'm working on preserving in various ways.<br><br>
I have had two batches of tomato dehydrating experience. Once, several years ago, I dried slices of grape tomatoes until they were little almost black chips. They were never good for much except soups. Yuck. This time around I'm only drying until the slices are collapsed and withered. Then I freeze them individually on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container or freezer bag. This way they seem much more tomato-like!<br><br>
I'm also making and freezing my own fresh salsa (we prefer the taste to cooked salsa). It is working great, and tastes so good!<br><br>
I don't have a pressure cooker or large hot water bath apparatus, so I have been reluctant to actually can tomatoes. What I think I might do is blanch, peel, and freeze the tomatoes individually and then put them in bags or something. I've heard people do that.</div>
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I have taken Roma tomatoes and frozen them whole and unpeeled in bags. In the winter when I needed them, I just would take out as many as I needed and run them under hot tap water. The skins peel right off. Then I would chop them up and use them in cooked recipes. It worked great! It does not work so well with the bigger and juicier tomatoes. If I could get my hands on Romas of any quantity, I would do that instead of trying to can my whole year's supply.<br><br>
A water bath canner will only run you about $10 BTW.
 

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I just read that book too!<br><br>
I don't think I have much to add to answering your questions, especially because I'm such a novice in this world, but I'm curious to hear what others have to say.<br><br>
I've canned tomatoes, frozen sauces, canned applesauce (I do add cinnamon, but no sugar), & all sorts of jams.<br><br>
You could look for bulk basil and freeze pesto (leave the cheese out until you defrost it). Yum! I freeze it in glass baby food jars.<br><br>
We decided last night while canning tomatoes (you can see my questions in another thread just posted) that we should invest in a pressure canner and a dehydrater. I'm looking for good deals, but I think it's going to change our canning lives!
 

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I've been preserving a lot this year--more this year than I've ever done before. I've got loads of of frozen green beans and greens, some sundried tomatoes and dried corn and this week I want to try canning some tomatoes and peaches.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>VeganCupcake</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8982547"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><br>
I'm also making and freezing my own fresh salsa (we prefer the taste to cooked salsa). It is working great, and tastes so good!<br><br>
I don't have a pressure cooker or large hot water bath apparatus, so I have been reluctant to actually can tomatoes. What I think I might do is blanch, peel, and freeze the tomatoes individually and then put them in bags or something. I've heard people do that.</div>
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We'll be picking tomatoes this week, I had no idea that they froze well.<br><br>
We've been busy canning jams - blueberry, plum, fig, blackberry. We tried canning blueberries in a heavy syrup but when we put them in the water bath, they leaked like crazy. We won't do that again. DH is out picking more today, those will go into the freezer. We're also doing corn, cut fresh from the cob, no blanching, in the freezer. I'm thinking of making some corn chowder to freeze, as well. YUM!
 

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If I remember correctly, my mom would quarter med-large tomatoes and freeze them on a cookie tray. When frozen, she would pop them into quart or gallon sized freezer bags and take out as many as she needed for a particular recipe.<br><br>
For many veggies, you don't have to blanch them if you are planning to use them within 5-6 months. I blanched and froze a whole bunch of different veggies 2 weeks ago, before I was told this (by mom and then verified by reading in several places).<br><br>
SO much work to do all that blanching, and then DH USED THE VEGGIES when he was cooking last week! Doesn't he know that I'm NESTING and this stuff is for AFTER the baby is born? Oh well, at least he cooks...
 

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Neat thread!!!! I have some tomatoes that need to be put up. oooh corn too! OK, I just finished blueberries and the farmer said don't wash to freeze. My NT mentor says to put them on a cookie sheet and let them freeze. They go in a freezer bag *perfectly*!!!! I have a gallon freeze bag full for pancakes and dd's ice blueberries.<br><br>
The farmer I got corn from says that blanching stops the enzymes that break down food, IIRC. He said to blanch corn before freezing.<br><br>
I love the *idea* of this; but, it's the carrying it out...we're all tired, busy mamas. And I even enjoy the process probably. I'm too tired to think about it right now. The A/C went out upstairs last night (and I live in the 100 degree South! ) .
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lurk.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lurk">: <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes">: This is exactly the sort of thing I want to start doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Dh came home from a business trip yesterday with 30 more pounds of tomatoes. He got these HUGE heirloom Belgium Giants that were organically grown somewhere near Duluth. The problem? They are not quite ripe and we are leaving on vacation in a few days. I think I am going to can them anyway as some are almost overripe and will rot within a day or two. They are beautiful but I wish we could have made a plan before bringing them home. I did look them up and they are supposed to be the perfect canning tomato. This will be the 4th type of tomato I will have canned this year. I am keeping very detailed notes of everything I do each day and labeling everything so that hopefully I will be able to decide which tings worked the best and repeat next year. The grape tomatoes turned out great! Question - the dehydrator instruction book says you must store dehydrated food in the fridge. This seems to be missing the point. My toms are quite dry. Drier than the dry tomatoes I buy. Are they going to get ruined if I do not refrigerate?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>blessed2bamommie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8989394"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">The farmer I got corn from says that blanching stops the enzymes that break down food, IIRC. He said to blanch corn before freezing.</div>
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I've heard it both ways--blanch or don't bother. My CSA farmer said don't bother. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"> We eat our corn so fast that it doesn't have a chance to get into the freezer!<br><br>
I made another batch of salsa, and whooooooeeee was the onion I used powerful! I also put some Roma tomatoes in the freezer, so I now have small tomato bowling balls. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Now I need to shred some of the dozens of zucchini I have and put them in the freezer.
 

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<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>VeganCupcake</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8982547"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have had two batches of tomato dehydrating experience. Once, several years ago, I dried slices of grape tomatoes until they were little almost black chips. They were never good for much except soups. Yuck. This time around I'm only drying until the slices are collapsed and withered. Then I freeze them individually on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container or freezer bag. This way they seem much more tomato-like!</div>
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Brilliant! I am totally going to try this...would they then mirror a sun-dried tomato in taste and consistency? Or would they need to be canned in olive oil for that?<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Yooper</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8985719"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have taken Roma tomatoes and frozen them whole and unpeeled in bags. In the winter when I needed them, I just would take out as many as I needed and run them under hot tap water. The skins peel right off. Then I would chop them up and use them in cooked recipes. It worked great! It does not work so well with the bigger and juicier tomatoes. If I could get my hands on Romas of any quantity, I would do that instead of trying to can my whole year's supply.</div>
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What a great tip! Any organic tomatoes have to be shipped into this here desert but I think I'll order them since they're in season and freeze me up some billiard balls!<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Yooper</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8991302"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Dh came home from a business trip yesterday with 30 more pounds of tomatoes. He got these HUGE heirloom Belgium Giants that were organically grown somewhere near Duluth.</div>
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Be thankful! Heirloom tomatoes here in Vegas cost $8.99/lb!!!!<br><br>
The one thing that grows GREAT here are herbs. In our, very small, backyard containers we grew basil, thyme, oregano, dill, parseley, terragon, and sage and have been able to FILL quart mason jars full of dried herbs with the help of our beloved excalibur dehydrator...I felt as farmerly as I possibly can living in Vegas with fake grass in my back yard! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>CeciMami</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8993242"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Brilliant! I am totally going to try this...would they then mirror a sun-dried tomato in taste and consistency? Or would they need to be canned in olive oil for that?</div>
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I can't say for certain since this is the first time I've tried them and we haven't eaten any yet, but I think they would be quite close.
 
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