Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dehydrating celery

I don't have my Excalibur yet, haven't even submitted the order. But while i wait, i still have mo other dehydrators.

I'm using my Nesco to dehydrate the celery since it is the one that has the  solid inserts.  I can't find any inserts for the Durabrand.

Celery shrinks dramatically when dehydrated, so the solid fruit roll inserts are critical.



On a nice dry day like yesterday it takes only about 6 hours to do a batch (the Nesco only fits one full bunch at a time).  I had two of the large bunches of celery. Not the neatly trimmed "celery hearts" that come only about 10" long. Hubby likes to buy me the giant rough and ready whole thing. It usually comes with the dirt still on it. and a lot of gangly green matter.  So its more of a pain to clean and stuff.  But i use my mandoline slicer to make the thinnest slices i can and then put them on the trays. The slicing goes pretty quick.
I try to keep them spread out a bit, but not too picky. They get shifted at least once during drying to make sure all surfaces are exposed to drying air.
They don't need to be blanched or pretreated in any way.

The two large bunches of celery end up dehydrating down to easily fit inside a standard sandwich size ziplock bag, though i have a 4oz jar i saved to store them in. The jar once held basil pesto.
I plan to use these celery bits in soups, stews, broths and such.  I read that they can be powdered in a blender and then mixed with sea salt for home made celery salt (if watching sodium or supplementing potassium, i'm sure potassium rich 'lite salt' could be used).

My refrigerator will freeze celery without fail and i'm tired of finding out that it has just before i go to use the celery.  So i hope i will have better luck with this storage method.

I think the Excalibur could do this in one batch, so i look forward to that. I need to get it soon so i can dry my peppermint and basil. I don't have good luck air drying herbs and these two dehydrators i have don't have temp control.

Oh, i wandered around the garden again yesterday- with the camera. More progress with the Job's Tears plants.  They are pretty cool looking the way the seed pod develops.  It looks like i should get enough seed to replant next summer and then from those i should get enough to make something pretty:

The ornamental "pumpkin on a stick" eggplant fruit are beginning to go orange

...and i'm eying the corn.

The silks have dried up, but when i pulled a few test ears, i got mixed results.  I have many small ears that have fully formed kernels, the rows aren't skipped like they get with inadequate pollination, but they are scrawny and widely spaced. I am told that the flavor is very nice despite that.  Another of the test ears was perfectly formed, but the kernels were immature even though the silk was indicating it was ready to pick.  I think lack of rain has a lot to do with this early and incorrect signal.

Where i planted the seeds rather thickly (trying out a theory that is supposed to help the stalks not fall over so readily-it worked but...) i don't think they got as much sun as they could have.  I didn't account for the sun's direction correctly- assuming that the corn would get tall too fast and shade out things too early-- so it went where i put it instead of a better spot.

But i'm going to orient my rows in the opposite direction next year and the corn will be in the final row.
My rows run roughly East to West, i'll have them going North/South.  With the corn at the back, there will be little shading.

I'm going to buy that 1 year subscription to GrowVeg soon so i can plan it out.