Saturday, 28 February 2015

New electric dehydrator

 
Dehydrating food keeps the nutrients intact. Electric dehydrating is the best method of dehydrating food. An electric dehydrator is energy efficient and can be operated at low temperatures needed to maintain nutritive values in the food.
 
 
When storing your dried product, keep in mind that no moisture should be allowed to enter the container ever. Dried food absorbs moisture from the air, so the storage container must be airtight. Some acceptable storage containers are jars and plastic freezer bags.

Vegetable Drying Guide
Vegetables dehydrate well, but because they contain less acid than fruits, vegetables typically need to be dried longer until they are brittle. Thoroughly wash the vegetable with cool water before slicing it into uniform pieces. Dry vegetables in single layers on trays. Depending of drying conditions, drying times make take longer. 
Beets: Cook and peel beets. Cut into pieces. Dry 3-10 hours until leathery.
Broccoli: Cut and dry 4-10 hours.
Carrots: Peel, slice or shred. Dry 6-12 hours until almost brittle.
Cauliflower: Cut and dry 6-14 hours.
Corn: Cut corn off cob after blanching and dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
Mushrooms: Brush off, don't wash. Dry at 90 degrees for 3 hours, and then 125 degrees for the remaining drying time. Dry 4-10 hours until brittle.
Onions: Slice thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Peas: Dry 5-14 hours until brittle.
Peppers, sweet: Remove seeds and chop. Dry 5-12 hours until leathery.
Potatoes: Slice thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Tomatoes: Dip in boiling water to loosen skins, peel, slice or quarter. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Zucchini: Slice thick and dry 5-10 hours until brittle.  

 
 
Fruit Drying Guide
After washing perfectly ripened fruit, cut the fruit into thin, even slices. Thinner slices are recommended for quicker drying. Some fruits dry well when left whole, though they will take longer to dry. Arrange in single layers on trays. You may wish to soak your fruit with lemon juice so it doesn’t brown while you are preparing it for drying. Just soak the fruit in the solution for 5 minutes.
Apples: Peel, core and slice into rings or cut into slices.
Apricots: Cut in half and turn inside out to dry. Pretreat and dry 8-20 hours until pliable.
Bananas: Peel, cut into slices and pretreat. Dry 8-16 hours until pliable or almost crisp.
Blueberries: Dry 10-20 hours until leathery.
Cherries: Cut in half and dry 18-26 hours until leathery and slightly sticky.
Peaches: Peel, halve or quarter. Pretreat and dry 6-20 hours until pliable.
Pears: Peel, cut into slices, and pretreat. Dry 6-20 hours until leathery.
Pineapple: Core and slice thick. Dry 6-16 hours until leathery and not sticky.
Strawberries: Halve or cut into thick slices. Dry 6-16 hours until pliable and almost crisp.
Soon I will try mango, watermelon and blackberries.
Dehydrate Herbs
Herbs add flavour to your cooking, and drying herbs is an easy way to preserve them. Gently rinse the herbs and shake them to remove moisture. Ovens and electric dehydrators work well with herbs. The herbs should crumble when they are completely dry.


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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Joshua's first time seeing hail

 
A few weeks ago we were hit by a large hair storm. Joshua was very excited as he hadn’t seen hail before. The storm lasted for about an hour and hailed for about 20 minutes. The resulting hailstones were a medium size and big enough to pick up. Here are some photos of the house and garden afterwards:
 
 
The garden was covered in small hailstones and had a white layer over everything!



Our car wasn't damaged, however the garden beds with roses were completely covered in ice. Luckily I didn't have to drive anywhere that day.

 There were piles of ice everywhere you looked!




 Luckily all of our fruit trees haven't got there leaves and therefore did not get damaged.
 
 
The vegie patch even ended up with a large amount of ice over it. Luckily most of my winter seedlings are safe in the warm greenhouse. Our chickens next to the vegie patch were also fine as the chicken enclosure is fully roofed.
 
 
 

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

How to maximise space in your kitchen cupboards

Have you organised your kitchen lately? I often just place things in where they will fit instead of putting them back where they belong. However this often leaves me unsure of where I put something the last time I used it. One easy and satisfying way to fix this is to organise the kitchen cupboards. 
 
 
Step 1:  Choose a cupboard to get organised.  Remove everything and scrub the shelves with some soapy water. Allow the surfaces to dry.
 

 
Step 2: Closely inspect the contents of your cupboards or pantry. Is there anything you don’t use anymore? Donate it to charity if it’s in good shape or recycle it if it’s not.
 

 
Step 3: Arrange everything in a composition that makes you happy. Think about what you reach for the most often and make sure it gets a position that’s easy to reach. Perhaps take a cabinet full of glasses and line them up by colour or style.


Extra ideas:
  • Some wire bin units slide out to make it easy to retrieve items at the back.
  • Add storage bins, shelves, and hooks inside doors for more storage, and consider including some specialty storage such as a holder for plastic grocery bags.
  • A deep drawer is great for pots and pans near the stovetop.  
  • Add a pullout rack inside the door for spices.
  • If you have more space, install a turntable on one shelf so you can spin bottles of oils and vinegars into view.
There you have it, beautifully organised kitchen cupboards. If you enjoyed this post, keep updated via social media:


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Air drying herbs: Rosemary & Basil

 
If your herb plants are producing too quickly for you to keep up with the fresh harvest, air drying herbs is an easy and inexpensive option. Here is how to dry and store rosemary and basil leaves. This method can be used for almost all herbs. You can also dry herbs in a food dehydrator or right in your oven. Click here for how to dry Lavender.
 
 
1.  You can see here that our rosemary plant is overflowing and ready to harvest. Make sure you cut near the base of the stem, so you have somewhere to tie the string without damaging the thin leaves. For the purest rosemary flavour, cut the herb before it flowers.
 



2. Tie the herbs in a bunch to hang dry or lay them flat on an herb rack. Even a baking rack will do, just allow air to circulate on all sides.
 
3. If you tie the herbs in a bunch, hang them in your kitchen to dry. Leave the basil alone until dry to the touch.
 



4. When it's dry, run your fingers down the stem and pull off the leaves and flowers.
5. Then you are ready to store the dried leaves in a jar.
You can also freeze fresh herbs in oil or water in ice cube trays. This stores the leaves at their fullest flavour and keeps the shape of the leaves. Then you just defrost when needed. I normally use water to freeze with, just make sure the leaves are 100% covered by the water in the ice tray – or the leaves may become brittle in the freezer.  

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Beautiful Creeper Wall

 This is the beautiful creeper wall at our family member's house that goes down to a creek walkway. It has taken a few years to grow and shape.
 There are birch trees and trimmed rosemary bushes throughout the garden.
 A close up of the creeper.
 
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