Convenience is pretty expensive. The just-in-time logistics system has changed our shopping experience in the Industrialized world. If you pick up the last bottle of ketchup on the shelf, there is no such thing as “the back room” for someone to check to see if there is more.
I have bargain hunting in my genetic makeup. I come from a long line of blue-collar immigrants who worked beyond modern imagination and were determined to get ahead in this great country. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression in a family of ten children. Her pantry was stocked deep at any given time. She gardened actively throughout the summer and always had food in the refrigerator. To her credit, I would put that below the fishes and loaves miracle when you consider how many grandsons she had. If you left her house hungry, it was your own fault. Her basement could have been a Cool-Whip museum for all of the washed, dried, sorted and organized-by-size containers that she kept down there.
So when I passed by this bottle in the break room at work, my upbringing kicked in and I reflexively picked it up to examine it and see what other purpose it might fulfill. After all, the price was right—it was being thrown away. Here is a short list:
- Lightning bug catcher—it is winter in Montana, bummer
- Soil sample container—see conclusion number one
- Yellow jacket trap— see conclusion number one
- Seed sprouter—cool
- Head bonker—as seen on the movie, The Gods Must be Crazy
- Food storage container—yes, my grandmother would be proud!
Then the idea hit me that this bottle had a capacity in fluid ounces, but how much food could it store for me?
Great thoughts often sneak up on you, and it eventually came to me that frozen vegetables were on sale at the local grocery store. We dehydrate with our Excalibur 9 Tray pretty much all the time. Bananas were on sale this week and so we have banana chips in process as I write this.
First of all, why glass? As fantastic as plastic is for space exploration, medical devices or fishing line—not all food plastics are the same. We typically reuse all of our glass jars in our house. A spaghetti sauce jar is on a one way trip when it leaves the store. With this experiment, I wanted to reclaim something from the waste stream that can be used for our profit. A post-consumer glass bottle can be taken to the dump or to the bank.
Secondly, why fill the bottle with dehydrated food? I have seen some interesting experiments done with commodities such as rice, oatmeal and wheat in post-consumer bottles before, and I do like the idea. Storing food in a five gallon pail is great, but if you want oatmeal do you really want to break the seal on a five gallon pail for one or two breakfast servings? Ditto for wheat or rice in a spaghetti sauce jar.
There are lots of great posts on the internet telling you how to store water–slightly chlorinated in a two liter soda bottle under the bed is great peace of mind. And it is mighty cheap insurance if you are in earthquake country.
Lastly, why frozen vegetables? Anything that goes into the dehydrator with as much cellulose and fiber as a carrot or corn kernel needs to be blanched first. If you are not familiar with blanching, here is a great article on it from our friend Sharon Peterson at simplycanning.com. Basically you dip the item in boiling water to soften the outside so that you avoid “case hardening” in the dehydrator. You would have to look long and hard to see the down side to something that is blanched (dehydrator ready), pre cut and on sale!
Step one: wash and dry bottle.
Step two: dump frozen vegetables on dehydrator tray.
Step three: set time for dehydrator.
Step four: put dehydrated vegetables in the bottle.
Step five (optional): add oxygen absorber
Here are the vegetables at 12 hours:
Here are the vegetables at 24 hours:
Later, when frozen vegetables are not on sale, you can still enjoy them in a soup or stew anytime. They will always be on sale to you because you preserved them minus the risk of freezer burn.
I managed to get two one-pound bags into the bottle. As you can see, 2 ½ pounds would have easily made it in there. These will go on the shelf without any further cost to store them.
Check out my other blog post: The 9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator vs. Deep Freezer–what does it really cost to store food?
Pro Deo et Patria
Oatmeal Photo Credit:Sritenou Photo id: mjMvLPM