Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvest Time

This is the time of year my husband risks life and limb to harvest the apples in our tree. This is no small feat when you consider my tree, which I purchased believing it to be a dwarf variety, is over 25 feet high. We didn't harvest as many apples as we usually do but there were enough for me to make two apple pies and a couple quarts of fresh apple juice. This year I have a masticating juicer that I have been putting through its paces and it hasn't disappointed me yet. In addition to apples, I've juiced pineapples, carrots and pears. It is my intention to move as far away from processed foods as possible and the juicer is one step in that direction.

Another step towards healthier eating is my dehydrator. Dehydrating isn't something I know very much about but I decided to give it a go for the first time last week using some freshly picked basil. I learned a couple of things pretty fast. One: dehydrating takes a lot longer than you expect; two: dehydrating takes A LOT LONGER than you expect. Because I didn't have a dehydration guide, I had no idea how long it would take to dry my basil. Three batches later I can confidently say that it takes 18 hours...yes, that's right...18 hours to dry basil. This doesn't count the initial washing and drying of the wet leaves before placing them in the machine.

Speaking of that, there was no way I was going to be hand drying several hundred basil leaves by hand with paper towels so I decided to speed up the process by placing them on a sweater rack and putting the leaves in my clothes dryer on air dry (no heat). Worked like a charm. Word to the wise: basil is at its best when picked BEFORE they bloom. That's when the leaves contain the most oil and are the most aromatic. My first batch came from post-bloom plants and the results were not nearly as aromatic as my final batch which came from plants with no flowers on them. My son had suggested I try dehydrating bananas to make banana chips which I think is a great idea but I can only imagine how many days it will take to adequately dry a high moisture fruit like banana.

Hmmm, juicer, dehydrator, vacuum sealer (got that too!) if I could only find room for a pressure canner...

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

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