Another thing I like to store are dehydrated vegetables. When I could get vegetables in quantity from the Farmer's Market, I would can some and dehydrate the rest. Sometimes when my local grocery has a sale on frozen vegetables I will stock up and dehydrate them as well. I have a lot of canning jars, so I store the dried vegetables in them. Light and moisture are the enemy of dehydrated food. The canning jars keep out moisture and they are stored in the coolest, darkest room in my apartment. I have had some stored for over five years with no problems.
I like to make soup or stew using the dehydrated vegetables. I found a couple of recipes for dried soup mixes, so I made up a bunch of them and stored them in freezer bags. The recipes come from "Making and Using Dried Foods" by Phyllis Hobson. The directions call for simmering the soup in a kettle on the stove, but I like to toss it all into a crock pot and let it simmer all day. Sometimes the dried food won't completely rehydrate in a short period of time and by using the crock pot, I know that they will all be tender and delicious by supper time. I've made a couple of minor changes from the original recipe. It calls for dried chicken cubes in the Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, but I don't dehydrate meat, except for jerky. I know that some do, but with the price of meat going through the roof, I don't want to take a chance on wasting it should it becoming rancid. So I use my canned meat instead.
Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
1 pint canned chicken
1/2 cup dried noodles
1/4 cup chopped dried carrots
1/4 cup chopped dried celery
1/4 cup dried green peas
1 tablespoon chopped dried onions
2 tablespoons chicken-flavored bouillon granules
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in canning jar or a zip lock freezer bag.
To Use: Add contents to 2 quarts boiling water. Boil until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. (Or cook in crock pot until vegetables are tender.) Stir occasionally and add water as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Vegetable Soup Mix
4 teaspoons beef-flavored bouillon granules
1/2 cup dried carrot slices
1/4 cup dried celery slices
1/2 cup dried green beans
1/4 cup dried corn
1/2 cup dried green peas
(or 2 cups dried mixed vegetables)
1/2 cup dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients and store in canning jar or a zip lock freezer bag.
To Use: Add contents to 2 quarts boiling water. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. (I add a pint of my home canned beef and cook in the crock pot until the vegetables are tender.)
Sometimes I'll just grab a jar of canned meat and jars of whatever dried vegetables sound good to me at the time. I'll dump the meat into the crockpot, add a handful of this and a handful of that, some of my canned chicken broth or water with a couple of bouillon cubes, and let it all cook all day. The only problem with this method is that I forget how much the vegetables are reduced by volume in the drying process, and how much I will wind up with when they have all rehydrated. It's usually more than I can eat, even within a couple of days. That's when I freeze the leftovers for a quick, easy meal later.
I don't like to have all the eggs in one basket. I want some foods that are packaged or in cans from the grocery. And some that I home can. Dehydrating is just another option.
I know that I could save myself time and effort by just buying the #10 cans of freeze dried vegetables. Freeze dried rehydrate quicker than the dehydrated foods and I'm sure there are other advantages to freeze dried. But price is an important consideration for me. I'd rather dry fresh from the Farmer's Market (or better yet, from your own garden) or on sale frozen vegetables that cost less money than ordering freeze dried. Works for me.
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