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How to Dry Eggplants

Last year I dehydrated eggplant slices dipped in lemon juice but they browned a little too much. I just found a better way, and since our first eggplant of the season is about ready to pick, now's the time to try it!

Method:
Choose eggplants about the same size or smaller than a large pear. Wash and wipe dry. Hang them from their stem in the sun for a few days. No other prep required. They are ready when you shake them and you can hear the seeds rattling inside. Store in plastic bags or jars.

Slice and rehydrate to use.

How to Freeze Bananas

I love using bananas in smoothies, but they do better when they are frozen. Never freeze a banana in it's skin; it's very difficult to peel a frozen banana! Here are two ways to freeze bananas:

Method 1:
Peel banana. Split in half. Wrap each half in a small piece of freezer wrap. Mark and freeze. Use within a couple of months. Note: I freeze them individually so they are easier to whirl in the blender.

Method 2:
Mix 1/2 cup of white table sugar with 2 teaspoons of ascorbic-acid solution (to use per 3 cups of banana puree). Now... peel bananas. Mash bananas and as soon as you measure out 3 cups of banana puree, combine with the above sugar/ascorbic-acid mixture. Freeze in container. To use, defrost unopened in the refrigerator. Use within three months.

How to Preserve Avocados

I've been trying to figure out how to preserve avocados because sometimes I find them for 50 cents each, and don't get to each all I've grabbed before then start to turn bad. I tried to coat slices in lemon juice and dehydrate them but the slices turned brown.

Ingredients:
avocado
lemon juice
freezer wrap

Directions - Method 1:
Halve and pit the avocados. Sprinkle each with lemon juice. Wrap each half completely, leaving no air space, in aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Store for a max of 2 months.

Directions - Method 2:
Halve and pit the avocados. Mash the pulp. Mix thoroughly with lemon juice. Lay freezer wrap in a small shallow freezer container. Pack the pulp immediately and fold over the freezer wrap and squeeze out all air. Freeze. When frozen solid, take out of freezer container, and place in a freezer baggie and mark. Return to freezer. Store for a max of a few months. Good to use for quacamole.

Note: instead of using lemon juice, you can use a strong ascorbic-acid solution, or a combination of both.

Recipe: Steak Sauce

Now that you've made ketchup/catsup (see yesterday's post), it's time to make your own steak sauce!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons strained catsup
3 finely minced shallots
1 teaspoon anchovy extract
1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 quart strong vinegar (we use apple cider to be gluten-free)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place that saucepan in a larger pot of boiling water (keeping the water from getting in the medium saucepan with your sauce), and keep boiling the water until the sauce in the inner pot is well heated but not yet boiling. Remove from the heat. Cover. Let stand 2 days. Strain finely then bottle/jar/can. Should keep for years if canned correctly.

Recipe: Tomato Ketchup

We've been eating tomatoes from our backyard grocery garden since the last week in June. Just this past Sunday, I picked 9 beautiful red tomatoes, and there are another 5 or 6 ready for tomorrow. Now is the time to bring out the tomato recipes! Here's one for catsup / ketchup. I use apple cider vinegar to make it gluten-free.

Ingredients:
1 gallon ripe red tomatoes
2 cups vinegar (cider, wine, etc.)
1 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons white table sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons cloves
2 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon mace

Directions:
Cut up and cook until soft a gallon of ripe red tomatoes. Pass them through a medium sieve (to get rid of big chunks of seeds or skins. In a large pot, add the cooked tomato goo, the vinegar, red pepper, sugar and salt. Then in a small cachet or cheesecloth bag, add the black peppercorns, cloves, mustard, cinnamon and mace, tie it up and add to the pot. Boil all for about 4 hours. Remove spice bag. Bottle/can while it is still hot.

Properly jarred, it should last a LONG time on your pantry shelf. I personally can't imagine my son eating chicken or fish without ketchup so it's a staple in my home.

Recipe: Rummed Blackberries

Rum is gluten-free and a great way to preserve those berries that are very available during the Summer. Here's how:

Ingredients:
fresh raw berries (blackberries, mulberries, etc.)
90-proof rum
white table sugar

Directions:
Wash the berries and drain thoroughly. Place in jars that you have a cover for. Add 1/2 cup white table sugar to 1 cup of strong 90-proof rum. Cover the berries in the jar with the sugar/rum mixture. Seal the jar tightly and store in a dark place. Do not use for at least one month for blackberries, two months for mulberries.

How to Use:
Spoon over pound cake or fresh homemade ice cream for a delicious treat.