Dried apple wedges

I love my dehydrator. Is it an essential appliance? By no means. Will I take it with me when I move (the litmus test for the value of a possession. naturally)? I might not. Do I love it? Or course I do.

How in the world did I procure this dehydrator? Well I’m glad that you asked! You see, last spring, a friend and I went backpacking, and I wanted to try my hand at dehydrating some goodies for us to take with us.

As is typical, I hopped on Craigslist to see what I could find. There are two Craigslist areas “near” me, but both are still an hour away, one in each direction. I figured if I found something it would have to be a pretty great deal to justify the drive. Lo and behold, what do I find? A dehydrator. Five minutes from my house. For $2. That’s right. $2. Not $20. Not even $5. $2. What a deal.

This weekend, I chopped 8 (or so) pounds of apples in thin wedges and dehydrated them. Now I have a gallon bag full of dried apple slices. So tasty! So portable! So light weight! The all around perfect traveling snack.

Dehydrated apples

  1. Peel (optional) and core your apples
  2. Slice into wedges or rings. The goal is to keep them thin. 1/8 of an inch, give or take, is ideal.
  3. Dunk for a minute or two in lemon water (1 tsp lemon, 3 cups of water)
  4. Lay out on dehydrator racks and sprinkle with cinnamon. Depending on the sweetness of the apple, you may not need/want the cinnamon. I like it, so I added it!
  5. Dehydrate! Mine need to sit about 12 hours. Read the directions on your particular dehydrator to see how long they need to go.

Don’t have a dehydrator? Check out Oh She Glows’ recipe for apple pie chips. You can make them in a normal oven. Tasty!

Freeze your produce

The summer is full of the beauty of all things fresh and locally grown. If you’re on top of your game, you can enjoy this quality produce all winter long. All you need is a freezer and some ziploc bags.

Freezing fruit:

  1. Wash your fruit
  2. Do whatever it takes to get the fruit ready to eat: pull stems off, pits out, leaves off.
  3. Spread the fruit in one layer onto a cookie sheet. I understand that the photo below is of beans. Not fruit. But you get the idea.
  4. Slide it in the freezer for about 1 hour. This will ensure that each piece stays separate and that it won’t all freeze together into one large clump.
  5. Divvy up fruit in Ziploc freezer bags. Fill each bag half to two-thirds full. Get as much air out of the bag as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  6. Label with type of fruit and today’s date, and store in freezer.

Freezing veggies:

Veggies are a bit more complicated because you have to blanch them before you freeze them. To blanch, get a large pot of water boiling on the stove.

While that’s happening, prepare your veggies. In my case, this meant shucking the corn and snapping the beans.

Once you have a rolling boil going, toss the veggies in. For both corn and beans, you have to boil for 4 minutes. If the water stopped boiling when you put the veggies into the pot, wait until it resumes a boil before you start the 4 minute timer.

When the timer dings, immediately remove the veggies using tongs or a slotted spoon and immerse them in cold (ice) water.

Once cool, the beans are ready to go on the pan and be frozen.

As for the corn: shave the corn off the cob directly onto a cookie sheet. When you have a full pan, slide it into the freezer.

Corn, especially, needs to freeze on the pan for at least an hour, or you’ll have a frozen brick of corn when you want to get it out of the freezer. For a family, this won’t be such an issue. For me, who just wants a cup or two of corn at a time, this is highly inconvenient.

Following the same rules as for the fruit, put the veggies in Ziploc bags, label, and freeze.

I wanna know: Do you buy in bulk? Do you preserve fresh produce/food when you can get it in bulk/on a discount?

Homemade Applesauce

My roommate inspired me a couple of weeks ago with a batch of yummy-looking homemade applesauce. I never buy it from the store, mostly because it just doesn’t taste as good and it’s chock full of processed sugars, etc. Not worth my money or the calories.

When I was at the farmer’s market last weekend, I asked around for what was the best apple at this time of year to make applesauce. I settled on some Red Romes, but was told that there are many good options depending on the sweetness or tartness I desire. Just ask your friendly produce manager or farmer’s market stand owner. They know where it’s at!

Here we go…step by step applesauce:

First, gather your apples and start peeling. This was by far the most time consuming part of the process.

Peel them, core them, and then chop them into 1/8ths (about…depends on how large your apples are. You don’t want them too thick or they’ll have to stew forever before you can mash ’em).

I used about 4 lbs of apples, so I could have leftover applesauce in the fridge for the week 🙂

Once you’re done peeling and chopping, pour in 1/2 cup of water and put the pan, covered, on the stove on medium heat.

Stir periodically. Once the apples and water start to boil, you’ll need to stir more often so that they don’t start to stick to the bottom of the pot.

We’re getting there! They smell so good! Who needs fall scented candles when you make applesauce?

Once they get really soft, turn down the heat to low and pull out a potato masher and go to town.

If you want a really smooth sauce, you’ll have to use a food processor or blender. I’m a big fan of applesauce with chunks though, so potato masher it is. Alright! When you feel that you’ve sufficiently smooshed your stewing apples, add 1 Tbs. cinnamon, 1/8 cup of honey, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix it up!

If you want to, take the potato masher to it again. But you don’t have to. This really is all up to you. You’re in complete control here.

Serve warm, because it’s tasty like that. It feels illegal, like you’re eating apple pie filling. YUM!

Keep the leftovers in the fridge. It is equally as yummy served cold.

Happy applesauce making!

Just a heads up, I’m disconnecting for the weekend and going camping. Can’t wait!

I wanna know: do you like to technologically disconnect while you’re on vacation? Or do the phone and the computer come with you?

I love disconnecting from technology for short periods of time. It’s nice to remind myself what peace in my head feels like 🙂 When I’m on vacation (even camping) I’m not always really disciplined about it though.