Archives for July 2013

DEHYDRATING FOR STORAGE YCH#31

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Dehyrdrating Food For Fun And Storage

I’d like to start with a little history on dehydrating.  We may consider it new, but dehydrating has a long history  for storing food.  Every culture has dehydrated some type of food.  The earliest known practice is around 12000 BC. in the Middle East and Asia.  Dehydrating (drying) food has a long history using the sun, wind and/or smoke.   Native Americans dried corn, berries,  jerky or “bapa” (dried buffalo meat). Pemmican was dried buffalo meat with tallow and sometimes berries used in the process.  One can imagine many nomadic people using dehydration to preserve foods for lean times.  Fish has been dried with salt or smoke for centuries.  In the fresh state it spoils quickly.

There are many advantages to drying food.  

  1. First of course is convenient storage.  Dried foods need no refrigeration and take up less space than freezing or canning. 1 pound of frozen veggies yields 1/4 cup (carrots) to 1 cup (beans) depending on the starting moisture level.  This is very good if the power goes out.  If one needs to travel light, such as backpacking, they take up much less space and are lighter.
  2.  Second is dried foods retain nutrients better than other ways of storage.  They retain more enzymes, vitamins, and minerals as compared to freezing or canning.  
  3. Third, dried foods taste better.  They retain better flavor and color.  When re-hydrated they are closer to the original.  Dried, smoked fish is so yummy.  Dried fruits become candy and spiced veggies become chips.  
  4. Fourth dried foods can save you money.  You can dry garden extras.  Or you can buy on sale or in bulk and dry it.  
  5. Fifth, you can make healthy snacks with dried foods.  I would much rather snack on healthy veggie chips or dried fruit than processed potato chips or candy.  
  6. Sixth, you can make quick meals such as soups or stews from dried food.  
  7. Seventh, you can actually dehydrate meals and re-hydrate them in a pinch for a quick meal.  Dried, smoked fish is so yummy.  Dried fruits become candy and spiced veggies become chips as mentioned previously.  And of course dried foods are just plain fun.  I remember making granola,coconut macaroons,  banana chips, pineapple, beef jerky, flax seed and veggie crackers, and other goodies for my family and friends.  The kids really love it and beef jerky is loved by kids and adults!  Another thing I like is drying veggies like eggplant or zucchini for use as healthy gluten free noodles.  I use this spiral vegetable slicer to make “noodles” and then dry them.

 

  1.  Old chips, cookies or popcorn can be revitalized with dehydrating to remove excess moisture.  Chips can be warmed safely for chips and salsa.
  2.  And of course dried foods are just plain fun.   It can be so fun doing this with children and being creative.  I remember making granola,coconut macaroons,  banana chips, pineapple, beef jerky, flax seed and veggie crackers, and other goodies for my family and friends.  The kids really love it and beef jerky is loved by kids and adults!  Another thing I like is drying veggies like eggplant or zucchini for use as healthy gluten free noodles.  I use this spiral vegetable slicer to make “noodles” and then dry them.  Dehydrators can be used for crafts also.  Such as drying flowers for scrapbooks or ornaments.

 

Methods of dehydration can range from something similar to what our ancestors did to electric, worry-free models.  Drying in the sun is the most basic.  By 1000 BC the Chinese were using the sun, smoke, salt and spices to dry foods.  North American Indians  made pemmican by dying meat (buffalo or deer) with fat for storage.  Drying with smoke,  especially for meat like jerky or fish are also traditional methods.  Passive solar dehydrators can be used.  Salting foods and drying in the sun can work.  We have it so easy now a days with electric dehydrators.  These have temperature settings and fans to circulate the air.  This prevents mold and bacteria from getting a foothold.  The cheaper dehydrators work fine.  I have had a round “American Harvest” dehydrator for many (over 20) years and it still works.   [Read more…]

Homestead Apps, Control Slugs Naturally, YCH#30

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USEFUL APPS FOR HOMESTEADING, SLUG CONTROL,YCH #30

 

  • VTRee ID is an excellent tree identification app from Virginia Tech. You can use this app to identify trees – starting with region. There is even an Ask Dr. Dendro to send to a question about trees.
  • I found some usefully APPS for identifying trees, wildflowers, Insects, and weeds that I review on the podcast.
  • “Who Let The Bugs Out” is a free insect identification app from Purdue University. This app is based on the book with the same name.
  • “Bugshot” Is another free app that has a library of bugs and an option to take a picture and ask a question.
  • Grows Griffith is another free app for plant identification.
  • IVY Plants is an app developed by the University of Georgia for identifying invasive species.
  • On the kindle I found Audobon Wild Flowers, Audobon Trees, and Audobon Insects andSpiders. These are PAY APPS, but we’re on sale for $2.99; regular $4.99.There is also a Permaculture app with tips, videos, blogs, etc.  It is pretty nice.
  • I like the larger pictures on the kindle. The phone is a little more convenient. I could pinch and zoom on some of these apps.
  • There are many more apps than those mentioned here that could be helpful. There are a lot of good ones for school aged children. I really like free apps from the universities as they are written for their students benefit and not not to sell the user products.
  • If you have a favorite app for homesteading, gardening, or permaculture please post it in the comments section.

 

I Also Discuss Natural Ways To Control Slugs And Snails In The Garden

  • Slugs are one of the most damaging pests in the garden.  There are several ways of controlling them which is good because a multifaceted approach is most likely the most effective.  of course prevention is the best.  Watering in the morning instead of the evening is better.  Slugs are more active at night so just love that evening watering.
  • If that doesn’t help you can try the old board trick.  You just leave an old board, piece of cardboard, or an overturned pot in the garden.  Anything they can hide under.  In the morning flip it over and pick the slugs off.  You can destroy them for feed them to the chickens or ducks.
  • Hit em with the rough stuff!  If you work for a living like me and don’t want or have time to pick slugs up in the morning you can add rough stuff around your plants or garden beds.  The slugs body is soft so it’s no fun to crawl across rough materials such as sea weed,lava rock, egg shells, bramble (like blackberry stems) etc.  Another option is diatomaceous earth.  Those little diatoms will dehydrate slugs from the inside out.  Of course this won’t work when wet.  I’ll add salt here too as it is rough.  Sprinkle it on and watch them melt.  seaweed is good for the garden, but careful when using salt as it could adversely affect the plants if too much is used.
  • Create a slug pub.  That’s right beer in a shallow container.  Try to cover most of the container so rain doesn’t get in.  The slugs crawl in for a drink and drown in a drunken stupor.   I would dig a little trench to put this in so it is at ground level.
  • Some people use copper placed around the plants as a deterrent.  With the price of copper now, I don’t see this as a feasible option.  Unless you have a lot of extra copper lying around.  Some people even build an electronic slug fence to deter them.  That’s way too much work for me.
  • One of my favorite ideas is fruit.  Place 1/2 a watermelon, grapefruit, orange, etc. (after eating the fruit of course) cut side down.  In the morning pick it up and see how many slugs you have.  I think I’ll feed mine to the hog “Tank”.  Escargot and fruit peels for breakfast, yum!!
  • Natural poisons or slugs include such things as coffee, garlic, ammonia.  For Garlic Spray mix 4 cloves of garlic in 1 TBL mineral oil.  Let this soak for a day and strain.  Add a pint of water and a squirt of dish soap.  Spritz those little sluggards and watch them die.  But be warned this will also kill beneficials as any other natural poison.  Another natural poison is  weak coffee.  For some reason slugs don’t like coffee; maybe it keeps them up all night.  I know, I know (weak).  Coffee grounds around the plants is also supposed to help.  They don’t like the roughness or the coffee.  Seriously, I’m thinking maybe it’s the acidity.  And the last natural poison is ammonia.  1 part ammonia to 9 parts water and a little dish soap.  Be careful with this as a little could actually benefit plants, but too much could burn them.
  • And last for long term use you could try decollate snails.  These have been used by citrus growers in temperate climates for years.  These are the good guys that feed on rotting material, but not healthy plants.  They also eat slug eggs and young.  And if a child or pet were to eat one they are not toxic.  However I have a video that shows them eating fresh fruit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QxrBm-Lyjw  So try this at your own risk.  So now we are armed with the info to get out there and SLUG it out!
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