TheLorax
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Took out a want ad

The more I think about canning, the more nervous I get. Just found out my neighbor is having the same misgivings. Also found out she has a pressure canner in a box too. We got to talking and decided this was the route we were going to go-

[quote]Will you adopt us?

We’re two local middle aged women who are neighbors. We are both looking to be “adoptedâ€

wingdesigner
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So now we're doing personals? :wink: I suppose next we'll be advertising for cabana boys and bikini manicurists... Well, sign me up!
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Wing

TheLorax
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No cabana boys but I do threaten from time to time to hire a "Lars" for around the house... you know the kind. The ones who multi task because they can dig holes and give good massages.

Bikinis? What are those? I seem to vaguely remember some sort of two-piece swim wear from my younger years.

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JennyC
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Heh. Image of a cabana boy in a male bikini standing in front of a hot stove, jar lifter in hand...

:()
Jenny C

doccat5
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Sign me up for the canning cabana boy!!!!! LOL
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

wingdesigner
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8) That "cabana boy" gets 'em every time... :P
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Wing

TheLorax
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Hmmm, at first I wasn't interested in a cabana boy but a Lars was sounding awfully nice but on second thought, I want a cabana boy.
"Heh. Image of a cabana boy... jar lifter in hand..."
Let him end up with a glass eyeball instead of me when the pressure canner blows up in his face.

TheLorax
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Little update- Our personal ad worked. We got adopted by three women.

A woman named Melissa will be teaching us how to can applesause.
A woman named Reva is going to take us on to can string beans.
And yet another woman named Karen is taking us on to to teach us how to can peaches and pears.

We have Moms!

Gets better. We were adopted by a Dad named Herman who is going to teach us how to make turkey sausage and turkey jerky. We're not supposed to tell his wife how we found him though. He doesn't want her to know he was reading personal ads.

wingdesigner
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Geeze, Lorax--it's starting to sound like a soap opera! It is nice to have alternate Moms/Dads, though. That's how we're ending up in L.V. in August--one of our "adopted kids" is getting married there and wanted someone on "his side". We also got rooked into escorting his fiancee to some soiree her daughter cooked up (and won't be attending--she was gonna make her mom face the groom's side of the family all by herself. Rotten kid!), and the groom (who lives in VA) called us Friday night, begging us to go with his fiancee to this thing. Sigh. Yes, it's a soap opera here, too. :roll:

But congrats on getting some mentoring. Hope you pay it forward, after you repair the holes in the walls and ceilings...
Happy Gardening,
Wing

TheLorax
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Hi Pat! :-()

Oh my, Las Vegas in August. Not so lucky you and your spouse. Drink lots of water and bring an umbrella for walking around during the day.

Herman was joking. I should have put a smiley face after his request. His wife is off bragging to her friends about how her hunk-o-husband picked up not one but two "young" (ha ha ha, define young) babes from personal ads. His wife Millie is a jovial type. They're both very good natured and I think they've been married for at least 50 years. Truth be known, he contacted us to tell us his wife knew how to can applesause but we already had a mom for that and didn't want to hurt Melissa's feelings by swapping Moms. Got to talking to him and found out he was into smoking fish and had acquired all kinds of skills throughout his life so we settled on the turkey sausage and jerky instead of how to de-bone, filet, and skin fish.

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applestar
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Sounds like a lot of fun! I'll PM you my mailing address so you can send me some samples! (Just kidding :wink:)

TheLorax
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Why don't you come join us? I don't think any of these people mind how many "kids" they get.

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hendi_alex
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There is no good reason for a person to limit himself/herself, but the wife and I were alway negative wrt the idea of canning things other than pickles and jams. Safety of the process was one concern but also nutrition was a consideration. With only limited research we came to the conclusion that blanching and freezing generally gives a more healthy and fresher tasting product than via canning. We used to blanch and freeze green and colored butter beans, field pease, corn both on the cob and cut from the cob, okra, and green beans. All were always wonderful during the winter. The major downside IMO is that the frozen stores offer very little cushion during a prolonged disaster of some sort. But then, we do keep a few months supply of canned goods and dry goods to fill that need. Maybe next year we will get back into freezing some vegetables again!

Alex

TheLorax
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Limited freezer space. I have one large deepfreeze downstairs, a side-by-side frig/freezer combination in the kitchen that really doesn't hold all that much, and a small refrigerator out in the garage that I use almost exclusively for cold stratifying seed with an upper freezer portion where I store home made suet for our birds of all things and ice cream bars for the kids. We do use the frig in the garage for pop/water/juice during the summer... stops the kids from running in and out of the house all day long to get something cold to drink or to bug me for money for the ice cream truck. I buy poultry and fish in bulk when on sale and it all goes in the freezers. Not to mention I also make triple batches of soups and double up when making lasagna, quiche, stews, casseroles, etc. It's a matter of time. Clean up is the same if I'm making two trays of lasagna as opposed to one and it's nice to be able to de-thaw and have some ready made meals with little or no fuss during the school year. Once September hits, I'm very busy and have little or no time to spare. My freezer is at capacity right now from all that I've prepared.

You're right though, blanching and freezing most vegetables and even freezing most fruits is best based on what I've learned.

There is one other major issue. We're prone to power outages here. Even with a whole house generator to run everything on the first floor plus one sump pump and the deepfreeze in the basement, there are problems if the power is out too long.

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hendi_alex
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Dehydrator is a good option for some things. I use mine almost exclusively for drying roma tomatoes. I am guessing that it takes somewhere between 20-40 pounds of fresh tomatoes to fill one quart bag of dried tomatoes. I'll likely only dry two quarts and they will last us two years. The romas are only planted ever other year with that store to last two years. We only use the dried tomatoes for a few things but use them in a small but steady stream. That quart bag lasts and lasts and lasts. The wife mostly uses them in cold pasta salads, reconsituted and on California style pizza, and of course added into sauces. The drying process really enhances the flavor and sweetness of these romas.

The four tray dehydrator prior to stacking.

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3168/2731482271_c07be62256.jpg[/img]

Stacked and running. Takes 12-16 hours for drying to complete.

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3063/2732311680_13ab57805f.jpg[/img]

This year's crop so far. You would not believe the pounds of tomatoes in these two little bags. I keep them in the freezer but is really not necessary.

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3055/2731483611_1146cd80a0.jpg[/img]

TheLorax
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In the not so distant past I was gathering up information to sun dry tomatoes because I use those in recipes myself.

I had passed on dehydrating anything using a machine because I didn't know if I could justify the darn near $150 - $200 cost of the most popular dehydrator once I added shipping and handling. Just don't think I'd be able to get my money out of it for tomatoes and a few bananas. Maybe I should poke around on eBay and see if I can pick up a gently used dehydrator or one that somebody bought and never used.

Your dehydrated tomatoes look tasty. Those are 1 gallon ziplocks, right? I'm getting thrown off from a scale perspective because your tiles are oversized. I've got two Roma tomato plants here and they are loaded with tomatoes. Not ripe yet but loaded. Might get around 10-15 pounds off those two plants but don't know enough to really be guesstimating what they will ultimately yield. They seem like very happy plants but it is doubtful I'd get even close to 40#. I can still work with what I have.

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hendi_alex
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Those are quart bags. Like I said, unbelievable how many tomatoes it takes to fill a quart bag. And they last and last with the wife using them as freely as she wishes.

Would be really easy to make a home made drydrator. Mine only has a 125 watt element in the bottom. You could take most any kind of container and place a 100-150 watt bulb in the bottom, improvise a couple of trays and a cover. Place air vents in the bottom and air vents in the top and voila, you have a dehydrator. You know, you could buy one of those kettle grills and put a bulb or other low watt heat source in the bottom. Then stack drying racks in the top part, and leave all vents wide open. That would work well, I'm sure. Probably would work simply by being placed in the direct sun and letting the black kettle heat naturally. May want to put a fine mesh over the vent holes to keep out knats and flies however.

Or you could use my strategy and wait on a friend to give you one! His was unused and on the shelf for years. I told him I was considering a purchase. He was glad to get rid of the clutter.

TheLorax
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Aiy yai yai, quart bags! How depressing. Fortunately, I do have 18 other different varieties of tomato plants here so I can experiment with dehydrating and canning. I went tomato crazy this year in anticipation of canning sauces and sun drying tomatoes.

Believe it or not, sun drying the tomatoes has worked. I built a little frame and stapled window screen to it and laid them out on the screen. With the nice dry weather and the sun beating down on them, they dried out well even though I had them on a counter in front of windows inside the closed garage. We have flies around here or I would have set them out on the driveway. Forgot which ones I dried but they were much larger than the Roma. I don't know if this would work for bananas though.

Time to send out an e-mail to friends and family checking to see if anyone has a dehydrator sitting on a shelf that they want to part with otherwise eBay for me.

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JennyC
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Alex: looks like we're doing the same thing with Romas (and looks like we have the same dehydrator, too!) I've discovered I can solar dry on hot days by putting the dehydrator trays, stacked, out on the backyard grill during the day. Might not work with something as wet as tomatoes, though; I haven't tried that.

Do you dry your Romas with skins on or off? And do you save seeds for two years or start over?
Jenny C

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JennyC
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Just noticed this thread has two pages. :roll:

TheLorax: glad to see the solar is working! I haven't forgotten our sundried tomato swap idea; I'll will if you still want to. Hornworms permitting, I think I'll wind up with about enough Romas to fill one of Alex's quart bags, but probably not two! Maybe we need to do a sample-sized swap!

I'm debating whether to can my Rutgers as I'd planned. I may freeze 'em. I'm finding myself freezing fruit I'd intended to make jam from; a chronic and acute lack of central air has me planning to make jam in the winter, from frozen fruit. That should also help with my chronic and acute lack of central heat! :P

Hopefully, I won't develop a chronic and acute lack of freezer space before the cold hits...
Jenny C

TheLorax
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Yes! The solar worked on the little cherry tomatoes. If you swap with me, you'd end up getting screwed. You'd definitely end up with the short end of the stick because I only have two other varieties of tomato that lend themselves to sun drying and the rest are all for eating fresh or making sauces out of them. I really don't think I'll get two bags full based on Alex's photos. All I've got to play with sun drying are the cherry tomatoes, the Romas, and that sausage tomato whatever it really is. That sausage plant never looked good to me compared to the others and it only has three tomatoes on it right now. Pathetic but it is alive and limping along.

The house I grew up in was devoid of central anything. We slept in the basement and out on the porch some nights it was so hot. One help was that we were wooded and weren't anywhere near a large city so we didn't haven't to deal with any of that heat island crap elevating the temps by 10F. When I got my very first apartment I never turned on the a/c because I couldn't afford the electric bill so I would sleep out in the lounge chair on the balcony if it got really bad. Come to think of it, we kept the a/c off the first few years after we bought our first home. It was me, I didn't want the bill. Don't know that I'd want to do that again. I will admit to having central everything now.

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hendi_alex
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"Do you dry your Romas with skins on or off? And do you save seeds for two years or start over?"


I cut off the stem end and then peel a swath the entire length and back. If the tomato is large I'll peel another path from stem end to tip on opposite sides. But the slices always have some skin left intact. I've not read anything about dehydrating technique, just figure this, that the skins are tough and don't like that, but the skins are good for you so really shouldn't remove all. For our purposes, that method has worked to satisfaction.

I've never saved seeds from garden veggies, though do save some dill seeds and arugula seeds sometimes. I keep all of my garden seeds in the freezer except during planting time. Corn and sweet peas usually don't do well beyond the season, but then, tomatoes, cucumber, all greens, and most everything else seems to last for at least five or six years. Those seeds are saved until they get consumed. For some things I don't care about the variety, or just like random surprises. For those like cucumbers, squash, and salad blends, all seeds get dumped into one pack and luck of the draw determines which varieties actually get planted. For those mixed packs, when new seeds are purchased they get dumped in with the old. Always seems like the germination rate is pretty good.

I'm pretty sure that I've got some tomato seeds that are six to ten years old!

TheLorax
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Umm, I bought mine as seedlings. Haven't had any seeds to save.

I left the skins on my tomatoes when I sliced them up to lay them out.

TheLorax
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News flash:

A friend contacted me about a dehydrator before I even had a chance to take the time to ask around. She upgraded and is going to give me one of her hand me downs. She said it has 5 trays and that this is not something you can just plug in and forget. She indicated what ever was being processed had to be watched as everything in it dried out at different rates. Evidently she lost her first batch of cherry tomatoes which is a shame. I guess I'm supposed to monitor what ever is in it so I don't end up with "crunchy, tasteless little rocks".

I'm very excited! Didn't even have to break down and go to eBay!

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hendi_alex
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I may have posted some of this but will run the risk of repeating myself. My dehydrator is 125 watts. Tomatoes are fairly moist so this info can't be generalized beyond tomatoes. When the slices are 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick, they are placed in the dehydrator and are generally not checked until about 12 hours plus or minus a couple of hours. If the dehydrator is only partially full, say with only two trays, most of the slices may be ready at that first check point. In any event the slices that have dried sufficiently are removed at that point. The next check is about 4 hours laters. Usually the rest will be ready then. If the dehydrator is all the way full, with four trays, then only a few slices will be ready at the first check, most are ready at the second check four hours later, and then the remainder are generally ready 2-4 hours after that. So it is not like you need to check the thing every 20 minutes. You will probably get used to the drying rate and afterwards the monitoring will be minimal. The drying rate for peppers or blue berries for example will be vastly different from the fairly large and very moist tomatoes. So each different fruit or vegetable will have different requirements and will require a new learning curve as you adapt to the drying times for various volumes being dried.

Alex

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JennyC
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Glad you're getting one! And yeah, what Alex said. It isn't all that much monitoring. Cut the initial 12 hours way down for something fairly dry to begin with. With my dehydrator, I'd check apple slices at 8 hours, greens at 4 or less. You might check every couple of hours just until you learn your machine.

You can dry pretty much any veggies, but I have no information on how they taste afterwards (yet; I will be experimenting more).

If you dry figs (yummy!), be prepared to scrub the trays afterwards... :roll:
Jenny C

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