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Preserving Harvests for My Picky Eater

My VHTS (very hungry tween son) is a bottomless pit but a very picky eater. Add to that his food problems and allergies, and we have a problem.

Last year I dehydrated much of our harvest, but I also froze a lot. Didn't do much with canning and pickling. Here it is harvest time for 2009 and we still have lots of the 2008 harvest in the freezer. I got to thinking... what on earth am I going to do?

As I was harvesting yellow squash, zucchini and tomatoes today, I really worked on puzzling this out. How can I get him to eat our harvest several months from now... during the Winter? I expect this winter to be long, hard and early, and combining that with the possibility of a swine flu quarantine, so this could become a very serious problem.

Here's what I've come up with, based on what we grow:
  • TOMATOES: He doesn't like these at all, except as pizza sauce and ketchup. However, all of my canning supplies are packed away until we sell the house and move into a new place. So... I'm dehydrating all tomatoes, and will powder and rehydrate to make pizza sauce and ketchup as needed.

  • STRING BEANS: He likes this fresh and frozen and canned, but as I said before, I can't can this year. He likes them cooked so I'll freeze these.

  • DRY BEANS: He doesn't like my baked beans as well as Campbells or Bush's but he'll tolerate them. I'll finish drying them on the bush and vine (or pick before we move and string up to dry). I'll store them in a mason jar to cook in the winter. Perhaps I can soak, cook, mash, and hide in frycakes?!?!

  • YELLOW SQUASH and ZUCCHINI: He likes zucchini better raw but none of it cooked and certainly not frozen first. I'm dehydrating a batch today. I'll store dried in a mason jar, and powder it to hide in pizza sauce or homemade gluten-free bread or smoothies or wherever I can.

  • EGGPLANT: Same - dehydrate, store, powder, hide

  • CUCUMBER: He hates cucumber unless it's benedictine (cream cheese, onion, cucumber dip) so I'll dehydrate, store, powder, and reconstitute into benedictine during the winter. Hmmm... yum.

  • WATERMELON: He hates watermelon too. I know, unbelievable. I'll dehydrate any leftover, store, powder, and add to smoothies.

  • PUMPKIN: He loves pumpkin pie. I'll dehydrate, store, then rehydrate to make gluten-free pumpkin pies and turnovers.

  • CARROTS: We never have any left over, so we just eat them raw. In the future, hopefully we'll have extras, and we'll dehydrate, store, powder and hide. We don't like the taste of cooked carrots, so this will work.

  • PARSLEY: I'm growing flat-leafed and curly, and he won't even try them. I'll dehydrate, store, powder and hide. I can buy more at Vitamin Cottage, already dehydrated.

That's my plan for the little bit we're growing this year. I didn't have the space or time for really anything else this year. When on sale, I'm buying: beets, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, cantaloupe, bananas and other fruit. He likes much of those raw, none of them frozen or cooked.

So, as above, I'll mostly dehydrate (at night since the house gets shown during the day), store, powder and hide.

Just remembered that Vitamin Cottage (a local health food store) has mixed vegetables, spinach, parsley and other things, already dried. Especially fruit. I'll stock up on those, store in a mason jar, and powder/hide as needed. All of the dried fruit, whether purchased dried or dehydrated by me, will do well rehydrated and added to his smoothies. Loves it!

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