I was lucky to inherit a beautiful garden from Dell when we bought the house. With no effort at all, we've enjoyed raspberries, pears, tomatoes, corn, beets, leeks, herbs and tons of flowers. Though we've tried to share some of the bounty, we still had too many tomatoes and pears to use, so last week I dug out my American Harvester FD50 food dehydrator. I got it back in 1998 to make food for my Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike. Before when I've used it, it was with food from the farmers market. This time I'm using the bounty from my garden.
I started with some beautifully sweet yellow pear tomatoes. I cut them in half and laid them cut side up on the trays. You can toss them in oil and add salt or add other seasoning before drying, but I love them plain. After 24 hours at medium temperature, I had a quart size bag of tomatoes that tasted great as a raw snack. I also had a handful of the red tommy toe tomatoes that I dried, following the same process, but they were not as good raw; I'll have to try adding them to soup, salad or pizza sometime this winter and see how they work. I labeled my goodies and threw them in the freezer to pull out in the middle of winter when the store tomatoes are tasteless and bland. I'm hoping for another couple of harvests before a heavy frost kills off the plant.
I had three windfall pears that were not quite ripe enough for eating, so I chopped them up and dried them. Drying fruit makes it so much sweeter and the result was delightful, but didn't last long. My husband and son and I ate that batch in just a few minutes of nibbling. The tree was full, though, so I started another batch.
I picked a dozen leeks to saute and freeze for winter soups. They are supposed to be safe to winter over with some protection, so I'm going to leave a few and test it. But they are so delicious, I hate to risk more than a few.
There is dill, basil and thyme in the garden and since I love the Dorot frozen cubes you can get at Raley's, I'm going to try and make my own.
If anyone has any extra produce they want to get rid of, bring it on over. It's a lot of work to pick, clean and prepare the food, and it takes a long time to dry it, but sitting out on my porch, enjoying some dried pears, I know it was worth it.
For more information about preparing food for drying, check out this post from the University of Florida:
As always, please let me know if you have news or notes or events - or just come sit on the porch with us; you'll find us there for all the sunsets.
Reach Karen Brier at RuhenstrothRamblings@yahoo.com, or 790-0072.