Learning to Preserve the Basics—Why I buy frozen veggies 20 bags at a time…

 2 comments
Feb 2nd
January 2013 322
What a fun series this has been for me to put out!
I wanted quickly to add some tips to the days past:
For Day One  where I teach you the whys and hows of canning potatoes, I want you to know I also buy frozen hash browns and dehydrate those all the time. They are already blanched and ready to go, and are super simple to throw into a soup, rehydrate for breakfast, whatever. You can even press them into a pie pan for a quiche once rehydrated and mixed with a single egg.
For Day Two where I talked about canning up dry beans, I wanted to give you a simple tip that I often throw the bean powder into ground meat to bulk it up, such as meatloaf, burgers, whatever. Add a little water and you can almost double the amount of meat you are serving without much of a difference. Just remember, if you are mixing it with a lean meat, make sure to add a little oil or it will stick. It also makes burgers more crumbly, so you do need to add a binder, like an egg.
Now today, we are switching gears off of pressure canning and heading straight into dehydrating! 
I want to share with you something that was a “forehead-smacking-moment” for me in joining a group on Facebook that is all about dehydrating (you can find their link here).
You see, when I purchased my dehydrator, it was solely for the purpose of allowing me to boost my garden production, and not have it go to waste. It paid for itself the very first year. But now, I truly believe it is possible to have an expensive and top-quality dehydrator like the Excalibur, and STILL have it pay for itself within the first year, without ever having a garden.
Seriously.
Why? Because a dehydrator can dry absolutely anything you can imagine.The Excalibur can also proof bread, culture yogurt, makes snacks for pennies, reduce food waste, etc. Finally, it can also allow you take advantage of produce sales, frozen sales, meat sales, etc, and continue to feed your family at those prices even when those sales are over.
And if you hit farmer’s markets, 
you can score fantastic deals on fresh produce 
and put things up for the winter months at half the cost.
If you get a high-quality dehydrator like my Excalibur, you also find that you can set it to a temp and time, and walk away, freeing your time up while something is already working for you.
Just in case anyone is wondering, NO I do not have an affiliation with Excalibur and am not even aware if they have one right now. I just know this machine has saved us thousands of dollars in sales and in what would have been lost produce in the last four years. And that is something I have to crow about, and tell you that it is absolutely worth the cost you put into it, just like any other investment.
I do, however, have a new affilate with Amazon.com in an effort to support my family with all the time that I spend blogging and teaching many readers each month. So each click, and each purchase turns into paying for a pair of new shoes, a trip to the chiropractor, adding a little income to our vacation fund, or buying something that is needed.
Here are the products I am recommending for this post:
Now, what is one of my favorite ways to use the dehydrator?
Bags of frozen veggies.
NO kidding.
There is little to no prep,
as the veggies or fruits are already prepared for you.
It allows you to take advantage of frozen produce sales.
Most veggies and fruits rehydrate to the exact same state they were in before you dehydrated them.
They are shelf stable, and you are not paying electricity costs
to keep them “fresh”.
Yes, so ALL those reasons are why we purchased 5lb bulk bags, or up to 20 bags of frozen veggies at a time. A 5 lbs bag of frozen veggies fits perfectly in a single quart jar.
January 2013 322

 

So think about that for a second.
A single quart jar on your shelf compared to a bag that would take up a good portion of a fridge/freezer combo. Plus you paid less per lb (if you are smart about it) than if you bought the smaller bags. So how is that not a win win situation?
If you have a food saver, you don’t even have to have a jar, just a box of regular Ziplocs and a way to bag it up, mark it, and store it on the shelf (or in a bin, or a box, or a cupboard).
To dehydrate frozen veggies or fruit, I simply pour on the trays, place a cotton towel or paper towel on the bottom, close the lid, and turn it on to 135* and set for 8 hours. Some things are messier than others and will drip, such as most fruits, etc. So you do have to keep a closer eye on those and make sure they are either on the bottom where you wont drench your peas with your strawberry juice (not a good combination, trust me), or you do all messy things together that would otherwise go together.
Now, some things you should do on a lower temp, such as pineapple, or most citrus fruits, as they will get a “skin” at the higher temps, and feel dry but actually rot 
because the inside is not dry enough. 
We have successfully dried everything but cauliflower
and had fantastic results.
(I think cauliflower has it out for me or something.)
So now for some recipes in which we use dried veggies and fruits:
Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Top
You will need 1/2 lb of chicken cubes, or one pint of shredded or cubed home canned chicken.
In a sauce pan that can hold about 3 quarts of liquid, combine the following:
four Tbs butter, melted
one onion, minced
once the onion is translucent, add the following
1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage, 1 tsp garlic powder,
2 tsp sea salt
It will become bubbly.
Immediately add 2 cups of warm water and 1/2 cup dry milk, and stir.
 This will make a simple white roux (sauce), to which you can add the following.
Once thickened, add two more cups of water and the following:
1/2 cup dried frozen veggies
chicken
Allow to simmer for about ten minutes.
Pour into a prepared pie crust made from a simple biscuit mix that you pressed into the pan.
 I layer  shredded sharp cheddar first, then pour the filling, but that is up to you. Top with more biscuits cut out to cover the top, leaving the edges open for the filling to bubble up and around the topping. I sprinkle the top with a little garlic salt and crushed oregano,
then bake for 40 minutes at 350*
Simple Crockpot Buttered Corn
In your greased crockpot, add 1 cup of dried, once-frozen corn. To this add 1 tsp sea salt, 4 Tbs of butter, and 3 cups of water. Cover and turn crockpot on low for four hours. Serve warm.
Simple Spicy snack mix using dried veggies:
Take equal parts sesame sticks, dried corn or peas, unroasted peanuts, and small pretzels. Toss with 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning. Put into a sprayed tukey roaster and toast for about ten minutes, then pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This stuff is addictive, just warning you.
Pina Colada Granola: Click here
Here is another simple series I did last year on using dried foods: click here.
You can also type dried foods in to the search bar and find lots more……
Many Blessings to you and yours,
Heather  

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