Archive for the ‘dehydrating’ Tag

09-05-2015 Journal – Kale Day!   Leave a comment

I finally was able to motivate myself yesterday to begin the process of collecting and drying herbs from the garden. It’s one of the sadder things I have to do every year as Fall approaches.  I’m forced to admit to that Winter is closing in on us and that my garden is beginning to fade away.

My better-half has been threatening to restart her daily regime of drinking healthy but unappetizing smoothies and wants some of the ingredients fresh from the garden.  Today was kale day.

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I started out with a trip to the garden and harvested two large baskets of freshly cut leaves. I then spent almost an hour cleaning and cutting the leaves   and making sure no little critters were hanging around. We occasionally have slugs attacking some of the plants but I found only a few and they were disposed of (I hate slugs).

Then it was upstairs to wash the leaves, blanch them in boiling water, and then drop them into an ice bath.  This kills any bacteria and gives the leaves a vibrant green color.  Using a Salad Spinner I removed the excess water to prepare the leaves for dehydration.

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I spread the leaves on a series of shelves and placed them into the dehydrator for four hours at 140 degrees.

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‘In’

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‘Out’

After the dehydration was complete I removed the leaves from the shelves and ground them into a fine powder with an herb grinder.  Here’s the end result of all my efforts.  Approximately 3/4 of a cup of clean and healthy smoothie ingredients. Drop a half teaspoon of the kale into any smoothie and you’re good to go.

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‘Done’

I do have to admit I’m not a big fan of healthy smoothies. Give me a good old-fashioned, high calorie, sugar loaded, milkshake made with ice cream. You can bet I won’t be sprinkling kale on that.

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‘Oh Yeah!’

05-10-2015 Journal–Herbs, Herbs & More Herbs!   Leave a comment

The excellent weather will be ending tonight if the forecasters are accurate so I’ve been scrambling to get a few things done before the rains arrive.  The second wave of plantings were finished yesterday.  I spent some time removing a few dead plants from the herb garden and then replanted twelve others.  I put in extra parsley and basil plants and after drying in the Fall we should have enough to last the winter.

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‘Lots of Oregano’

I replanted all of my Sage plants because for some unknown reason they all died.  I hate losing plants that I’ve had for years but there isn’t much I can do about it.  I really thought the heavy snow cover for most of last winter would’ve helped keep them healthy and happy.  As usual it appears the apple-mint, spearmint, peppermint, catnip, and oregano will be huge.  In just the last few weeks those plants have grown four inches and are spreading everywhere.

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‘More Basil’

The new mower arrived last evening and I spent this morning going over all of the equipment and controls.  I finally fired it up and spent an hour learning to operate the machine. It’s much smaller than my last tractor but it cuts very well and is easy to steer around the many obstacles on the property.  Next week I’ll pass the older tractor over to my step daughter’s husband. They should with a little TLC be able to use it for a few more years and possibly even longer.

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‘We Always Need Rosemary’

Next week with the better-half out of town I’ll begin purchasing the next batch of plants and place them into the cold frames.  Cherry tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, and pea pods lead the list.  Just after Memorial Day I’ll get everything else planted as quickly as possible. Then it’ll be time to retire to the deck to relax and watch things grow for a month or two.

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‘There Are Chives Everywhere’

I’ll  stock up on some good brandy and a case of Chardonnay and that’ll be my contribution in helping Mother Nature in getting my garden to flourish. 

The sunshine and deck beckon.

08-29-2014 Journal Entry– More Garden News!   Leave a comment

As the summer continues to wind down we’re slowly preparing for the end of the garden and this years growing season.  We still have a few tasks that need to be completed before I take it down for the last time. We have what seems to be an endless supply of cherry tomatoes this year which we’ll be eating steadily until the first frost.  My better-half has taken steps to can a few quarts of those tomatoes and they’ll be delicious during the upcoming Maine winter. Even though they’re canned they taste better than those hot house selections available in the food stores.

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This is the first year we’ve grown black beans and I have to say they grow fast and in great numbers.  We spent a hour yesterday shucking the beans and delivering them to the dehydrator.  We can store them for a longer period of time once they’ve been sufficiently dried.

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We also planted three varieties of kale which are in need of processing in some fashion. Earlier in the summer we blanched a quantity which went directly into the freezer.  I harvested what I thought was a large quantity of kale leaves yesterday thinking I would dehydrate them and store them in jars much like dried parsley.  Then they could be used in soups or sprinkled on almost any food as a flavor enhancer.  I really do love the smell and taste of kale and look forward to using it as often as possible. Unfortunately once dried and crushed my large pile of leaves turned into a single quart jar full.

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‘Picked’

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‘Blanched’

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‘Iced’

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‘Finished Product’

I’ve been maintaining  a fairly accurate record of what our garden has produced thus far and I’ll be posting that list within a week or so.  I feel the need to brag a little because this garden has produced more than we could ever have hoped for.

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As you can see the concord grape wine has taken one more step towards final bottling.  It looks and smells wonderful and I managed to sneak a taste and it was excellent. A few more weeks and this batch will be finished and bottled.