If you want to freeze food in a plastic bag and don’t have or don’t want to use a seal-a-meal, try this. Put the food in a zip lock bag, zip the bag most of the way closed, stick a straw in the corner that is still open, zip bag until it is tight around the straw, suck the air out of the bag through the straw, quickly remove straw while sealing the bag. You can remove a good portion of the air using this method and reduce the chances of freezer burn.
I used this method for freezing kale, swiss chard and green beans. It is such a clever idea and so easy, I can’t believe that I never heard or read about doing this before. 🙂
I’m certainly not complaining about currants, in fact just the opposite, I am very grateful for this years currant crop. It has been fun trying different things with them. My daughter was happy to take home a jar of currant jam the other day, and the wine is still fermenting.
The last thing that we did with the currants, other than making some muffins and eating a few fresh, is to make dried currants. I may have mentioned before that we tend to do things in a non-conventional manner (our way). So, instead of getting out the dehydrator and heating up the house for a day or so, my husband suggested we sun dry them. So I got out the drying screen, which is a wooden frame, that came as part of the packaging in a table that we bought, with screen stapled to it (the screen was part of a roll that I had purchased for a few $’s at an estate sale), and spread the currants on it. We put the drying screen on a couple of chairs on the deck where the sun could shine on them.
Here is what I (we) learned about sun drying currants.
It is a long process. Even with day time temperatures in the 80’s this took a couple weeks.
The bugs did not bother them. Probably my biggest fear about trying this was that we would have flies and fruit flies crawling all over them, but that was not the case. I never saw bugs on them. The birds left them alone as well.
They will get very sticky during this process but eventually they will dry.
Take them in when it rains. Take them back out when the sun returns.
After a couple of weeks of this when the were fairly well dry we put them on a shelf in the spare room to finish drying. Yesterday, I packaged them in just a paper bag to be stored until I have time to make some muffins or granola bars with them.
Addendum: After eating the banana bread that I added dried currants too, my husband suggested I add a note. While I like the flavor of the berries and think they add a little zip to the bread, the seeds (currants are very seedy) are very hard and will stick in your teeth. I think, if I dehydrate currants again, I will try running them through the food mill first to remove the seeds and then make a fruit leather or fruit roll-up.
I love simple things. If you have looked at my home page you will see that I describe my products as “Simple and Fun”, and if you read the ingredients you will understand. Most of the products have very few ingredients. I have made soap with as few as three ingredients but never more than 10. I have made balm with as few as 2 ingredients but never more than 7. The fun is adding ingredients that I have on hand, especially those that I have grown.
This also applies to the recipes we eat. So let’s share some simple recipes. Here are some of my favorite recipes.
Garlic Dill Dip – 1 pint of sour cream (you can use low fat or whatever you prefer) add several cloves of fresh, minced garlic, 1 or 2 tbsp. of dill either fresh of dried, and about a tsp of sea salt. Mix all ingredients well. It can be eaten immediately, but the flavor improves if it sits for at least 15 minutes before eating. I love this for potato chips, Fritos, or as a veggie dip.
Cucumber and Vinegar is An Old Family Favorite – I’m not really sure what this is called but during the summer my grandma and my mom would always have a bowl of these around. I couldn’t tell you their exact recipe. Like me, they probably didn’t have an exact recipe. Anyway this is what I do. Slice as many cucumbers as you want to use, (you can peel them if you prefer), slice as may onions as you want to use, (I would highly recommend peeling the onions first). Place cucumber and onion slices in a bowl, cover halfway with vinegar, (I used white vinegar), add enough water to cover cucumber and onion slices, add salt and pepper to taste, I also added some dill. Let the veggies bathe in this mixture. They are probably ready after an hour or so but the flavor gets better the longer it sits. I’m honestly not sure if grandma or mom ever put this in the fridge, it seems like it was always sitting on the counter, but I refrigerate it just to be safe.
Rhubarb Sauce – This is something I made the other day. I picked some rhubarb and didn’t feel like freezing it or baking a rhubarb crisp so I cleaned it and cut it up. It probably came to between 2 and 3 cups. I put it in a pan with about 1/2 cup of water and turned it on to let it cook. When it was getting mushy I added 1/2 cup of sugar (how much sugar you add should depend on how sweet you like it). Then I threw in a handful of frozen strawberries. Unfortunately they were not homegrown, and they certainly were not a necessary part of the recipe, but it was good. I just let this cook on low until it was the desired thickness. It can be eaten plain like applesauce, but we have been using it as an ice cream topping. Yumm!
Okay, now it’s your turn. Do you have a simple recipe you would like to share?
Well the garlic was harvested last week as planned, well maybe not quite as planned, but that part of the job is complete. We had hoped that this antique potato digger, that we purchased last year, would pull the garlic out of the ground, and we would simply have to pick them up from there. Unfortunately the results of this experiment left us with too many bulbs that were either damaged or left complexly under ground while the stem and leaves lay in the field.
So my husband, who should not have even been in the field due to a injury he occurred the previous weekend, got out the shovel and began digging each individual bulb out of the soil. He placed them in trays and brought them to the shaded area, where I was working to remove excess dirt and put them in bundles to dry. At the end of the day all of the bundles were moved to shelves in our indoor drying location, where they will cure for several weeks before the stems and roots are removed and they get a final cleaning.
The job actually took us a total of three days even with some help from the kids. It was exhausting. These were probably the hottest and most humid days of the entire year, and there was just no time for a dip in the pond.
Now that the garlic is drying for the next couple weeks we will attend to other tasks until it is time to clip and clean and sort each bulb before it can be sold.
We grew five varieties this year (listed below). I was surprised as I examined this years harvest, that the varieties that I expected to produce larger bulbs seemed to only be average size, and the varieties that have not performed as well for me in the past actually seemed to produce larger bulbs. I’m mulling over possible explanations i.e. field location, type of garlic for this years weather conditions, possibility that new varieties were not acclimated to our growing area. One things I know fore sure is, regardless of the size of the bulbs the flavor is superb. 🙂
A Northwest heirloom brought to the Portland area before the 1900s. Many connoisseurs believe that when well grown its flavor describes true garlic.
Collected in Rep. of Georgia by Hanelt about 1988, near the town of Tochliavri. Cloves streaked with red and pink. Flavor praised by many. Very popular
An outstanding plant producing very large bulbs. Strong, robust plants stand out in the garden. A sweet and substantial garlic when baked. Hot when consumed raw. A Bestseller.
Our best performing Purple Stripe garlic year after year. Chesnok Red holds shape and retains flavor when cooked. Great choice for baking with a creamy texture. Produces very large bulbs that average 9 to 10 easy to peel cloves. From Shvelisi, Republic of Georgia.
S & H SILVER
Large cloved, originally from S&H Organic Acres. 15 to 20 large cloves per bulb. Clove colors off white to tan with pink blush tip. Bottom half of clove often brownish. Cloves tall and concave. A mild sweet taste that builds in heat and lingers.