PRESERVES – Dried Fruits and Veggies Edition

Okay. So I did that thing where you take all of your heaps of loose change and roll them – except that I wasn’t rolling them, I was sorting them into $5 bags of quarters and $1 bags of nickels… you get the idea.
There were… There were a lot of quarters. O.O
So what did I do with them? Among other things, I have (a) bought groceries, (b) bought coffee, and (c) bought a food dehydrator. (The rest is going to off-set the cost of a pair of protective leather motorcycle pants which I’m expecting to run me between $200 and $250 unless we happen to find a pair that are on end-of-season markdown which, of course, I’m hoping for).
BUT! Food dehydrator! 😀

I know, I know. I only just go the chest freezer up and running. But here’s the thing: While dehydrating food means having half a dozen trays of full-sized tomato-halves or peach quarters or whatever humming away at 400 watts for hours on end – basically like leaving six or seven (extra) 60w lamps on for 5-10 hours at a time – it’s still going to use waaaaaaaaaaaaaay less electricity than that gorgeous chest freezer of mine goes though on any given day. And, what with having two MAJOR appliances dedicated to food-preservation 24/7 (that being the freezer and the fridge, with its freezer-compartment on top as well)… let’s just say that the thought of a black-out has suddenly become that much scarier.
Besides, I do something like 35-50 braises (minimum) per year, on top of various slow-cooker soups and stews, and stove-top curries. Plus I tend to add dried fruit to my ever-evolving Morning Muffins recipe, sometimes to breakfast yoghurt, and frequently to other baking (e.g.: coffee cakes). The possibility of drying out some fabulous heap of tomatoes, too, has a certain appeal from the perspective of “stuff to put on pizza” (or, y’know, see above re: braises).
So I figured, Look, the food-dehydrator that I’m looking at runs about $50 before taxes, and I won’t have to pay for shipping. And if it means I never pay $16/kg for dried cranberries again, then GREAT. I figured that, since the average price for “dried apple chips” is $12/lb, putting up 4-5 (dried) pounds of free apples from the orchards of various friends (and/or Hidden Harvest Ottawa picks) will mean this item pays for itself inside of a week, once the apples start rolling in[1], never mind things like dried tomatoes[3] or dried peaches[4] (it’s rather too late for dried cherries, but I’m sure you’re getting the picture) or kale chips.
It’s true, I don’t have a tonne of pantry space floating around BUT I’m sure if I re-arrange things a little, I can make more room.
So. As you may have guessed, dear reader, I ordered a dehydrator.
And – rather sooner than I expected (like, by about 18 days O.O) my Fabulous Acquisition arrived at my door.
Right now, it’s still in its box BUT I’ll be making a trip to the local place that sells local produce (The Glebe Metro, as it happens) to see if they’ve still got those Ontario Peaches in stock. Here’s hoping!
My plan is to get two baskets, turn some of them into peach butter – because Yum – and chop the rest into eighths and put them in the dehydrator for however-many-hours (I’ll have to figure that one out) so that I’ll have dried peach chunks for use in muffins, baked desserts like pies or cakes, braises, AND (when I eventually get my hands on some sauce tomatoes) this year’s batch of tomato-peach salsa as well.
Wish me luck! 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] As-you-know-bob, I use fruit butters in place of straight-up sugar in a LOT of baking, but the potential to use dried apples in baking (as opposed to dried cranberries, unless I can sort out how to sweeten them a little bit beforehand[2]) and opting for peach, pear, or pumpkin butter for the sugar-substitute – thus blending more than one fruit into my mix, basically… well, let’s say it holds a certain amount of appeal. Likewise, opting for dried apples (as opposed to fresh ones that, super-affordable though they are, tend towards a little bit pricy after they’ve been in Optimal Temperature Storage for, well, almost a year) in my braises isn’t going to hurt anybody, and will cut down on how many fresh apples I go through in a given winter, as well.
[2] Possibly this would involve halving them and tossing them with cassonade? Suggestions?
[3] We spent the weekend visiting friends – the folks who let me “tidy” their garden last September, while they were out of town – who have offered to bring a basket of tomatoes my way next time their in my neck of the woods. Awesome! Now, granted, “basket” probably means “4-10 tomatoes” rather than “20-40 pounds of tomatoes”, but still. Free tomatoes! Those things raen’t cheap!
[4] Peaches, on the other hand, I will have to buy if I want to dry them. Unless I get remarkably lucky on a Hiden Harvest Ottawa pick (unlikely – stuff fills up fast) and score some plums or something, any stone-fruit I want to dehydrate is going to have to be purchased. I’m… okay with that, actually. 🙂 I’ll make it work. 🙂


One response to “PRESERVES – Dried Fruits and Veggies Edition

  1. Pingback: Drying Peaches and Nectarines – Things I Have Learned | Urban Meliad

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