DIG THAT DEHYDRATION

TSISG00ZFood Dehydration is the oldest form of food preservation, but is slated to be the hottest trend of tomorrow. Forget fighting zombies for savaged scraps of Twinkies and Wonder bread — knowing how to dehydrate food will save your cheeky behind.

Food dehydration is safe because water is removed from the food, and is an excellent DIY basic for the future while saving money in the meantime. Dehydration is a passive activity that on average takes vegetables 6-16 hours (fruit 12-48 hours) to dry. Food dehydration is also an excellent skill to know when rations are low  and beasts and looters are plentiful – not to mention you’ll have more friends to watch your back when you entertain them with a dried fruit salad and squirrel jerky!

DEHYDRATION METHODS:

Sun Drying: You will need three to four sunny days of at least 100 degrees in a row. And if you surviving in a sunny coastal climate – Mamacita says “you are a smart one,” and “be sure to use vinegar and lemon juice to clean off your simmering rock.”

Oven Drying: Of course you can try this option fairly easily today, but natural gas may not be around tomorrow. So no matter if you’re using a conventional oven, or you’ve designed a Dutch oven for the fire pit – keep the temp (at the minimum) 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and leave ventilation for constant air flow.

Prepping Produce
All vegetables except onions and peppers, and mushrooms should be washed, sliced, and blanched. Dry vegetables in single layers on trays. Depending of drying conditions, drying times make take longer. Dry vegetables at 130-degrees Fahrenheit.

* Beans, green: Stem and break beans into 1-inch pieces. Blanch. Dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
* Beets: Cook and peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch 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 1/4-inch 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 1/8-inch 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 1/8-inch thick and dry 5-10 hours until brittle.

The Drying Process – Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies should be dehydrated between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin drying your food at higher temperatures, and then turn the temperature down after the first hour or so (toaster ovens are the easiest and most efficient appliance). The last hour or so of drying time should be turned down on a lower setting. If using a conventional oven, turn to lowest setting (usually 250 degrees Fahrenheit), crack open door and place fan on side to keep temp low and breeze dry. Turn the food and rotate the trays while the food is drying (this includes in the sun).

When drying food, its best not to keep temperatures too low or too high. Temperatures too low may result in the growth of bacteria on the food. Temperatures too high will result in the food being cooked instead of dried. Food that is under-dried will spoil, and food that is over-dried will lose its flavor and nutritive value.

You will know your food is dried when you touch it, and it is leathery with no pockets of moisture. You can test fruit by tearing a piece in half. If you see moisture beads along the tear, it is not dry enough. Meat should be tough, but shouldn’t snap apart. Vegetables should also be tough but can also be crisp.

The Drying Process – Meats

Meats should be dried at 145-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Jerky should dry between 6-20 hours until pliable, but not brittle. Wipe fat off of the jerky while it is drying. Jerky does not store as long as fruits and vegetables.

To aid in the curing of jerky, meat must be marinated in salt and spices. The “OG” pioneers used 1 1/2 cups pickling salt to 1 gallon of water and soaked the meat strips in this for a couple of days. As an alternative to soaking, they also rubbed the meat with salt and spices (like garlic and pepper) before drying. The following is a quick and easy marinade:

1 C. fresh tomato puree
1/2 C. vinegar
1/4 C. brown sugar
3 T. Bragg’s Amino Acids
2 t. dry mustard
1 t. natural salt
1/2 t. pepper

Storing the Stash
Remember this key tip when storing your substances: moisture should not be allowed to enter the container. Dried food absorbs moisture from the air, so the storage container must be airtight. Jars and reseal able glass containers are the safest bet. If storing fruit leather, wrap in wax paper and store in another airtight container. Containers of dried food need to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (60 degrees Fahrenheit – cellar conditions).

Learning to dehydrate food is also a great way to stay on a budget, maximize usage of seasonal organic produce, and ensure you always have the fresh flavors you love packed away in the pantry. Enjoy!

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Love Those Lemons!

Lemon LoveBright, cheerful and full of zesty citrus love – not only do lemons taste amazing in food and beverages, but they make the zestiest most effective natural cleaner!

Lemon juice is acidic, meaning the juice will neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water that is now a common culprit in public water that renders many soaps ineffective, and makes your hair dull and lifeless. The lemon’s acidic nature will dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish, and remove dirt from wood surfaces.Lemon juice can also be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits, as well as many other amazing uses.

1) Lemon Juice and Olive Oil:

To create a homemade furniture polish for hardwood items, mix one cup of olive oil with 1⁄2 cup lemon juice.

2) Lemon Juice and Vinegar:

Mix lemon juice and vinegar to create a cleaning solution that effectively removes food stains in the kitchen and makes fixtures sparkle in the bathroom. Lemon juice also adds antibacterial and antiseptic properties to homemade cleaning solutions.

3) Lemons for Copper:

Clean pots and pans with copper bottoms with lemon juice. You can also liven up copper fixtures by cleaning with lemon juice. Simply, cut a lemon in half, dip in salt, and rub away stains.

4) Lemons for Countertops:

Remove stubborn countertop stains by leaving a small amount of lemon juice to work its magic for a couple of minutes (and not any longer because the acidic nature of the juice is strong). Scrub away the stain using baking soda and a clean cloth.

5) Lemon Juice and Salt:

To remove rust from sinks, toilets and tubs, combine lemon juice and salt to create a naturally strong scrubbing agent.

6) Lemons for Drains:

If you place lemon rinds in a garbage disposal, you can remove drain odors. Some people will also pour lemon juice and hot water down a drain for the same effect.

7) Lemons for Linens:

To naturally bleach white clothes and linens, soak items in a bucket filled with diluted lemon juice. Dry the fabrics in the sun and most stains are bleached away.

8) Lemon Scrubber:

Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut side. Grip the lemon and use to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains.

9) Lemon as an Air Freshener:

The scent of citrus fruit is pleasantly refreshing – making lemon juice a welcomed addition to homemade cleaners. You can also add fresh lemons to a glass container or bowl as a deodorizing centerpiece in the living room, guest bedroom, or kitchen.

10) Natural pest repellent:

Create an effective repellent for fleas by cutting a lemon into quarters and submerging it in boiling water. Steep the lemon overnight. In the morning, transfer the liquid to a spray bottle. Spritz your pet with the solution, especially in high-flea zones, such as around the head, behind the ears, and at the base of the tail. If your pet doesn’t react too well to a spray bottle, you can soak a soft cloth in the solution and rub onto targeted areas.

11)Lemons for lovely floors:

Washing your floors with a lemon solution will keep fleas away. Combine the juice of four lemons (including the rinds) with two liters (or 1/2 gallon) of water.

12) Lemons love shine:

Remove mineral deposits and polish chrome objects by rubbing a lemon rind over affected areas. Rinse the chrome well and dry with a soft cloth.

Ahoy Salty Mates!

clean-lemon-saltBypass drab and nasty commercial cleaners and get salty! Scrub down sinks, tubs, showers, tile grout, and floors of the bathroom with the abrasive action of salt. Salt also helps remove food stains from pots, pans, and baking dishes.
Simply adding water to salt creates a stellar paste that scrubs down your oven and countertops. And if you don’t believe me, check out this lovely salt [and lemon] post by Green Buffalo Food Company (thanks for the photo!).

Home Salt Scrub

In a16 oz refillable container, mix together:

1⁄2 cup white vinegar

1⁄2 cup salt (1/2 cup each)

Stir with plastic stir stick.  Apply to surface and use our scrub brush and microsuede cloth to scrub and wipe surfaces clean.

Other Salty Tips and Tidbits

  • Soak cast iron pans in water with three tablespoons of salt to remove caked-on food without harming the seasoned finish.
  • Combine baking soda and salt to produce a whitening effect while scrubbing surfaces.
  • Gently use the salt paste to clean painted or paneled walls.
  • Blackened Copper Bottoms: Slice a lemon wedge in quarters, then dip wedges in Kosher salt.  Rub the copper bottom until blackened spots disappear, then keep going until the bottom sparkles.
  • To clean Copper and Brass Add white vinegar to 2 tablespoons of salt until you’ve created a paste. Adding flour will reduce abrasiveness. Apply with a rag and rub clean.