I went grocery shopping yesterday, and came home with some things I intended to preserve. I often buy extra of something if it's on sale, and can/freeze/dry the extra. I bought an extra bag of apples and decided to dehydrate them, since they are really simple to dry and I eat them frequently as snacks. I got out my new mandolin (a Christmas present to myself, how did I live without this tool for so long?) and cored the apples.
The cores of the apples went into a quart jar and were covered with filtered water, and a small cloth tied over the top of the jar. This will sit on the counter for a few weeks and slowly turn into apple cider vinegar.
After thinly slicing the apples I sprinkled them with the juice of half a lemon, tossing to coat, which keeps them from browning.
I spread the slices out on the dehydrator trays and sprinkle them with cinnamon. I sometimes do some of them plain as well, but I prefer the cinnamon ones.
Three pounds of apples fills the dehydrator almost perfectly. I set it for 125 degrees and they usually take about 6 or 7 hours to get to the dryness I prefer, almost crispy with just a little flexibility to them. Yes, the dehydrator is still living on top of the dryer, I haven't come up with another spot for it yet.
After the dryer was running, I froze a large bunch of kale. Nothing exciting, just rinse it, tear it up, pack it in freezer bags and throw it in the freezer. Although, this leaf had a small surprise hiding on the underside... The picture is zoomed way in, these were really pretty, laid out so orderly and symmetrical. The entire batch of eggs came off in one piece without taking any of the leaf with them. I have no idea what sort of insect laid them, but I'm glad I noticed them before freezing the kale. Just one of the benefits of eating organic I suppose, extra protein. *grin*
The apples finished drying, and I packed them into small jars. They're an odd thing to store, round things usually are, and they're never flat enough to just stack them but you can push them down and compact them then screw the lid on quick before they spring back up. Opening the full jar is sort of like those old-time snake-in-a-can toys, they spring up and out of you're not careful.
I had also purchased an extra bag of onions, so I got those into the dehydrator before I went to bed. I sliced some which filled 3 racks, and diced the rest which filled the other 2 trays fairly thickly. The racks have 1/4 inch spacing, so I use parchment paper for small items that would otherwise fall through the wire. Someday I'll have a kitchen with enough counter space that I don't have to balance things over the sink.
The onions dried beautifully overnight and today I put them in jars. The two trays of diced onions completely filled a pint jar. They can either be reconstituted in hot water or added dry to soups or stews, and the flavor really reminds me of the Durkees french fried onions my mother always put on top of green bean casserole.
The dried onion rings were placed in the old Vitamix and powdered. Despite them filling the blender container nearly to the top, once powdered they only filled a 1/2 pint jar half way. I may add some salt to make onion salt instead of leaving it as plain onion powder.
I also had a couple small cabbage to turn into sauerkraut. I'm used to making kraut in 10 gallon crocks, so making small batches is still a bit strange to me. The mandolin did a good job of thinly slicing it.
The two heads of cabbage were a bit on the small side, and the crock was not very full, so I added a half dozen large carrots that I julienned. I usually start mixing salt into the cabbage before packing it in the
crock so it has a chance to start releasing juice to make the brine before I start pressing it down in the crock, and I did the same thing with the carrots.
This brought the level in the fermenting crock up to a better level, and I packed the veggies down tightly beneath the brine and put the stone weights on top to keep the veggies submerged. I hate to wait 3 weeks for something to ferment if it's only a partial batch. A full batch will last me until the next batch is ready, so I try to keep the crock "working" all the time.
Once the weights are in place, the lid goes on and the moat around the top is filled with water to seal the crock. The gases produced by the fermentation of the veggies can escape from under the lid but stray bacteria and yeasts and such can't get in.
The sun actually was out today, for the first time in nearly 3 weeks! And it didn't rain for the first day in about that long as well! Unfortunately the high temperature was only 35 degrees, and it had dropped below freezing by 4 o'clock. Tomorrow is supposed to be 45 degrees, and then tomorrow night the wind kicks up from the north bringing an arctic blast with it. The forecast low Wednesday night is 4 degrees, and it's not supposed to get above freezing until into the weekend. Tomorrow I need to check on the insulation and cold protection for the plumbing under the house to make sure the water won't freeze, and get the small space heater plugged in under there. I also need to fill the propane tanks on the camper as I didn't winterize it this fall. The water tank is drained, but there's always some left in the lines and the water heater, so I need to keep the heat on in there to keep anything from getting damaged.