Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Seed Power Plant and The Dehydrating Meltdown

Have you ever looked at a seed of a plant as a power plant? What if it used all of its energy at once? What if your food supply depends on understanding dehydrating a little more? Well it does....

For this example of teaching, I am going to use a mature Zucchini Squash. This shows more than anything, the problems that could arise and ruin your food supply that you have dehydrated and put up for future use. After noticing a problem in my own food supply, I felt this would be more informative to express and blog about because I found little to no information about this problem.

So lets start with this photo... Here you can see fat, somewhat thick seeds at the end of my knife.

I found that seeds that are slightly thick to thick need to be removed before dehydrating. What gives? I have no formula and I can't say which vegetables need seeds removed, but Squash of all kinds that your going to dehydrate needs a little more attention than say peppers.

Seeds were design to with stand extreme conditions. Consider a plain that has burnt after a lighting strike and catches fire. Many people start field fires to control weeds, knowing that regrowth will occur again. So why would a seed that goes under stress from a dehydrator? So if the seeds are mature enough, remove them.

For this process I am removing seeds from Zucchini that I sliced on a slicer and have many pounds to get through so I can move on to other task. If I am grating Squash, I will use a ice cream scoop. Here I have sliced the Squash and have used a egg cup to cut out the centers.

Once I have cut all the centers out of the slices, ensuring a safe vac package of dehydrated Squash, I set my racks beside me, and move the slices to the cutting board.

Once I have moved them over, I cut the larger pieces in half in a crescent moon shape and place them on the drying rack as shown in the photo. With my 9 tray dehydrator full, I have processed 19 pounds of wet product or enough for 10-12 meals for four people.

Following this method might save your whole dehydrated food supply as you reduce risk of those power plants start sprouting out and rotting or souring in a airtight bag.

 Adjustable slicing allows this machine to be used for everything that you want to slice evenly and properly for OUTSTANDING end product quality when dehydrating.

People often over look this product because slicing is easy, but here the key is even thicknesses for consistency. I and several other hundreds of people found this slicer to meet our needs during harvest time, and makes great Jerky too

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Popular Sausage Zucchini Muffin Recipe

I have been asked for some of my Zucchini recipes and what to do with this popular summer Squash. If your at work and people want to give it away, you will find most people will take a few at first, then nobody wants any more. However you can do more with it than most people know, I mean I like to get out my seasoned cast iron fry pan and mix it with Yellow Squash and Onions.

Dehydrating it is great, and I will add this same recipe made with dehydrated Zucchini Squash later. My goal is to show you what to do with it while it is fresh and everywhere you turn. If one will grow, you will get others until the plant dies. Or other people will get sick and tired of them, along with some people who grow them for fun, will just give them away....

Now I am not known for top rated cooking, okay I am a awesome trail cook and a self proclaimed Gravy Master, but there are some recipes I have gotten or I create on my own. This one was modified from a souffles recipe I made up, but it was better as a muffin. I had too many eggs on hand and was being creative and stumbled upon this idea/recipe.

From Boy Scout meetings to Swim meets, these became a family favorite very quickly. Then during parties these just disappeared and rave reviews were heard many times. If your looking to get married, remember the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. LOL... Enjoy... Jason

Sausage Zucchini Muffins

2 pounds of (any) sausage
3 cup zucchini, grated
3 large egg
1 medium/large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup reduced sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2  teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
cooking spray

******Note at bottom*******

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
Cook Sausage, let cool.. Grate zucchini on medium side of grater. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Fill each muffin section to the top, pushing down on the filling with your spoon so it's nice and compacted so they don't fall apart when you take them out of the tin.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Remove by inserting knife around edges after they are cooled some, about 10 minutes.

****** Because you can make these with different types of sausage, they can be served at different times of the day. If you make the recipe with breakfast sausage, I do suggest, you can eat/serve them for breakfast. If you want to make these for appetizer's or as an hors d'oeuvres, use a mini muffin pan and reduce cooking times by a third or a little more. In any case be sure to make plenty and be on guard because once your family realizes and has what your making, they'll never be safe again when cooling, trust me. ******  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The False Idea on Freezer Food, The Food Storage Basic's Part 1

People love to get great deals on food that comes on sale, fruits, vegetables and meat alike. It is almost a no brainer when it comes to food cost and sales.

Long ago the process to keep food was less healthy and affordable than today. From Vinegar, Oils, Dehydrating, Smoking and Salt Curing, these methods were used and passed down for hundreds of years. Today, in places you might visit, cured meats and sausage hang. When you walk into these places two things happen, your repelled or your mouth begins to water.

While in Italy, I walked into a meat store while passing through a small town. Off the beaten path, I knew I was in a place that not very many visitors came by and it was a place of locals only. The pungent smells hit me first, it was kinda different, then I started to smell the layers of different smoked and cured meats.

Dust laid on some of the meats as if they were just left there, unsellable for what ever reason. My education told me they were longer term curing meats and might be ready now for the harvest. The woman, having a brown stained dress on, a thick cotton, came up and started to greet me. I said hello and passed by her to look and ask her about some Pepperoni I spotted.

She made her way back to the counter where a drawer was, she pushed it in and walked to a cabinet and opened it to reveal walls of hanging cured meats. Some had been sliced on a few times, some new, some whole. I even spotted some cheese and fish.

The reason I tell you this story is so that you understand that meats can be stored and cured, even today it is still used. However, it has to be done right.

For now I want to cover a few basic things, long term and short term food storage for the average person or some one who is just starting out at food storage. The one book I found useful in understanding long term or alternative preserving is this book.

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation

Second, I want to get your ear on something that is misleading and although generally not a common case, but is for preppers, homesteaders, gardeners and folks who just want to plan cheaper meals it is a great concern. Salt cured meat and freezing.

After reading a article in Meats published by Hobby, it was brought out that meats like sausage, bacon and other salted meats will go rancid and decay after awhile. Before this article, it never occurred to me that  meat would go bad, even if vac packed and handled properly. The Author of the article went on to explain, and then all sorts of light bulbs started going off.... 

As I read, it dawned on me, about the funny taste my own sausage had after 7 months in the freezer. I had not eaten much of it, the tainted meat, but enough to know it wasn't right so I stopped eating it. Then I started to ponder the salt content and how that would stop the meat from freezing solid, like a rock or really hard. I went down and grabbed a slab of my own bacon from the freezer, not that bacon sits very long around here. But I did a flex test on a package. I had preserved it correctly, I was confident in my workmanship and knowledge of processing the bacon. 

So I let a few packages of that old sausage in the freezer and tested it several ways including cooking it and smelling it against the same recipe but fresher, 3 months fresher. I also did a package push test on the meat, while still vac packed. I found that the sausage that was older, the outside of the meat, although just a thin layer, pushed around easier than the fresh sausage which didn't have a layer to push around. 

I cover this issue more in depth in one of my Food Storage Workshops on-line. I mention this today because so many people are starting to buy bulk and perhaps not think of this or not rotating their freezer stock often enough. 

Be sure to check out Part 2 in this mini series, The Food Storage Basic's. I will be covering Dehydrating methods, processes and debunking some of those myths and wives tales. You will learn long term and short term approaches. I will toss in a few good long term recipes to boot...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zucchini Bread Recipe

Zucchini Bread Recipe

2 Eggs
3 cups grated Zucchini
1.5 cups of Oil
3 cups of Sugar
4 cups of Flour
1 cup of Raisins 
1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1.5 teaspoon of Nutmeg plus a pinch
1.5 teaspoon of powdered Ginger plus a pinch
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of Molasses

Optional 1 Cup of chopped nuts (suggested)

Grate the Zucchini allowing it to drain in a strainer for only 5 minutes then place into bowl. You will need the extra moisture later on, so dump the Squash in the mixing bowl.

Mix Eggs, Zucchini and oil well. Sift Sugar, Flour, Baking Power and Soda, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon and add to liquid then add Molasses and Raisins. Then add optional nuts and mix well.

Grease and flour two loaf pans, split dough into two pans, bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours or 75 minutes. Allow to cool on bread rack or two wooden spoons. Remove serve warm or at room temperature with Butter or Cream Cheese.