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A Freehold of My Own

Documenting my journey toward being a self sufficient family

Category

Drying

Foraging and Production 

Hello folks! Things are crazy busy this year, making it very hard to keep up with my writing. I’m working on getting more time to write. Summer weather showed up a month early this year, combined with the drought we are experiencing has made for some interesting harvesting. The salmonberries were abundant, I have a large bag of them in the freezer that will be turned into jam. The blackberries are COPIOUS!! I want to bring my son to pick them so time will have to be found for that. Current projects include…

  
I’ve been wanting to make tamales for years now. Maybe months but it feels like years. I haven’t seen corn husks for sale and even if I did I couldn’t buy them in good conscience. I live in a region that produces a lot of corn so I have husks drying in the sun.

  
Hazelnuts! Or Filberts. I’ve recently discovered they are actually two different types of nut but are so similar to be all but interchangeable. I’m going to identify the wild trees I’ve been collecting from this week. I’ve got about a pound of nuts drying in a cardboard box on my patio. No direct sun but will still get all the warmth.

 
My foraging haul for the day: hazelnuts and red clover blossoms. The nuts are for eating, the blossoms for tea.

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Mishaps 

So while I was out walking the dogs I’m boarding with my three year old, my spouse tried to be helpful and turned the oven on for me. He failed to notice the big wooden spoon propping the door open, not only is it how Iet air circulate when drying herbs, it’s also a big warning to not turn the oven on. This was the result.

 
I was sad. What cheered me though was the fact I found some giant dandelions while I was out. Didn’t get nearly as much root as I wanted but there are lots of tender leaves! It will be dried and added to the “green powder” I’m making. It’s basically just greens you can eat dried, crumbled, then mixed together. I’m not fond of leafy greens, they usually taste like dirt to me or have the texture of dirt. When I saw a post about making your own green powder for smoothies and such I was overjoyed! 

  

 

Urban Foraging – Horsetail and Plantain

Had the chance to get some foraging done the day before yesterday. I found some really healthy looking horsetail(also known as foxtail) and two varieties of plantain. I will be testing it’s medicinal and non-medicinal qualities so there will be a post on scrubbing pots with them!

  • Horsetail, Foxtail: Equisetum
  • Narrow Leaf Plantain: Plantago lanceolata
  • Broadleaf or Greater Plantain: Plantago Major

  

Salmonberry Leaf Tea

I’ve finally had the chance to taste test some tea made from local shrubbery. I had collected leaves from Salmonberry bushes(Rubus spectabilis) that I could find far enough from main roads to make me comfortable. They took about two days to dry, spread out on a cookie sheet in my kitchen. 

  

I crushed the leaves by hand and measured a teaspoon into my tea strainer. I let my water come to a boil and let it sit for about a minute. The leaves were tender before I dried them being the first Spring shoots; I figure that hot but not still boiling water would work well.

 

I let the herbs steep, covered, for about 10-15 minutes. I tried it after two minutes and the flavour wasn’t even noticeable. After more time it tasted much like a mild green tea. I think this would work well added to other ingredients, not so much on its own. 

Dandelion Oil – Part Two

Part two of dandelion oil! I had read online, from multiple sources, that the moisture content in the flower heads can lead to a jar of rotten slop. I was feeling impatient so rather then sun drying, I spread the flowers on cookie sheets and dried them in the oven while I was out at work. After about five hours they looked like this.

  

I moved them into two jars, covered them with olive oil. I used an extra virgin olive oil that was not to my liking for eating. For cost purposes I’m sure regular olive oil or perhaps grape seed oil would work just fine. You can solar infuse the oil, leaving it in the sun, for four to six weeks or do the faster method. Fill a pot big enough to hold your jar(s) with a few inches of water, put your jar in, turn the burner on to medium. Let the water heat up but not boil, turn off the heat and let the jars stand in the water until it cools. I’m going to let it sit for at least a week, maybe two. Then onto making salve!

  

Autumn Bounty

The pumpkin seed feast began today. I have considerably less then last year but we had mostly small pumpkins this time. I also tossed a bunch, I haven’t been feeling well and wanted to lighten my workload a bit. I’ve been reading a lot about fermenting and soaking. I soaked the seeds for 12 hours in salted water and then dried then at about 150F for approximately four hours. The length of time is due more to having a toddler then anything else. I don’t know if the soak will make the seeds themselves any more digestible but it did make the outer shell much more palatable!

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Oven Dried Bananas

I do apologize for the long delay. For a explanation please go here.

Shortly after the dried apple experiment I tried an old recipe with a new twist. Many years ago when I was diagnosed with IBS, one of the recipes I came across was oven dried bananas (or banana chips). When done this way they are AMAZING. Nothing like the deep fried greasy bits you find in stores. All I really did differently was dipping them in the water/lemon juice mixture and dried them for longer at a lower temperature. They were crunchy yet chewy when I first tried them. I tried them again about a week ago and they seem to have dried out a bit more and are quite difficult to chew on. I’m not sure if this is because my bananas were a little too green and therefore did not have a high enough sugar content, or if I just simply dried them too long. My tip for you is to dry them for 3-6 hours and see if they are at the consistency you want. If you prefer them softer like I do then store them in the fridge in a air tight container. If you like the super crunchy ones dry for 6-9 hours and store them in an air tight container in the cupboard.

Oven Dried Bananas

6 slightly green tipped bananas
1 L of water
2 TB lemon juice
2 Drying Racks (I use cake cooling wires)

1. Preheat oven to your lowest setting. Mine gets down to about 130 degrees F.
2. Mix lemon juice and water.
3. Peel bananas and break or cut in half. Using your thumb press into the middle of the flat end of the banana, it will split into three wedges quite easily. Put these wedges into the lemon water. Do this with all the bananas.
4. Place onto drying racks and place onto the oven rack.
5. Close door, propping open with a wooden spoon to help keep the temperature low. Let dry for 3-9 hours, depending on how dry you want them.
6. Let cool and enjoy!

Dried Apples

I am making a batch of dried apples this evening. It’s my first attempt. I’m just using the over drying method. I was going to try wrapping the oven rack in cheesecloth, I discovered that water and lemon juice take grease off very nicely! So there went my nice clean cheese cloth. I decided to use my cake cooling wire and lay them out on there which fits quite nicely. I sliced them just under half an inch thick, local apples of a variety I cannot remember, dipped them in a solution of one litre of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice. So far so good. Will post pictures and write of my success or failure in the morning when they are dry.

 

OKAY! I’m back! Sorry for the delay. The recent severe weather has been wreaking havoc on my body. The apples turned out beautifully. Slightly over done but that was because I slept in. Either way they are very tasty and almost gone. I believe they were in the oven for about twelve hours, part of that time the oven was a wee bit too warm. After some poking around I managed to get the temperature as low as possible. I am trying to think of other fruits I can dry for snacks. Any ideas?

          

 

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