Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dehydrating Squash for Winter

Last year when I discovered that dehydrated squash and zucchini made the ultimate in dog cookie, I've not had to worry about having extra. In fact, I wish I had more! Aside from being the supreme tool for dog obedience in my house, dehydrated squash and zukes rehydrate wonderfully and maintain their summer flavor far better than frozen do. They seem to work best for me in cheesy squash casseroles or soups and stews after rehydration. If anyone knows how to make them so they are good for frying or saute'ing, I'd be grateful!

Harvest of the 27th, the smallest is a 1/2 lb saucer squash.

I also got myself my ultimate toy for dehydration this year. It is the Excalibur 3900! A very pricey but extraordinarily highly reviewed and American made dehydrator for those with very large gardens. It is a 9 tray model. I was anxious to try it.

My Long awaited Excalibur 3900

Controls are easy, but precise

Loaded with all the squash above except the saucer

Unfortunately, after a few hours on, I went to check and realized the unit wasn't producing heat. You have no idea how upset I was! I did all the checks recommended when it arrived and after disassembly, I saw nothing that shouldn't be there or anything undone. It was simply faulty. And, on top of that, the company is closed for a week for the holiday!

Now, Excalibur is just a pedestal

And so, I had to pull out my cheapo Nesco from walmart, reload and take 2 loads to do what I had already cut. Most annoying.

Now, I don't want to cut any company down since they have an almost universally wonderful reputation. But I do think the increase in home food production may have affected their quality control just like it did for so many seed companies that experienced the increase in sales. I sure hope they make it right without requiring me to perform electrical repairs myself! I'll let you know.

Boscoe and the Man Cat say Hello to you all!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Harvests are picking up!

Gathering Lunch

Well, obviously that is more than lunch and since I'm grilling for dinner I can see a very satisfying meal in my future! Tomatoes pictured are Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Constoluto Genovese (my favorite for canning), Green Zebra, Goliath and Mortgage Lifter. There are more on the vines, but they are hidden enough to not be in danger from the birds (who are bedeviling me) if I leave them on to ripen more fully for a day or two.

Mostly I'm canning them. And shockingly, as many as I planted I need to double my planting next year to get truly full canner loads at one shot. For example, the 12 pounds below only came out to 7 pints, never mind quarts. And doing that every 3 or 4 days but not getting 7 quarts isn't very energy efficient.

Nonetheless, I'm very pleased with what is coming so far and the yields just pick up from here!

My harvest from the 27th and 28th made only 7 pints out of 12 pounds of tomatoes
Question for you all on canning tomatoes: I've always heard that Romas do best, but I'm finding they don't have the kind of texture or color or powerful flavor of others. Do you can Romas or do you like others instead?