The End of the Harvest
Preserving Apples and Potatoes
Farmer’s Market season is well over now, and oh how I am missing those beautiful summer days. There is a rumor that one neighbor still has u-pick cabbage and kale, but for the majority of the produce—summer has been eaten or root cellared or “put up”. As any standard year, I had a bounty of some things and only teases of others. It is why I preserve the bounty—next year may not fare so favorably in what served as this year’s redundancy.
There are several things you may have been keeping in cold storage that can stay there much longer if you prefer. I am beginning to think that I am not the best at that method, because I begin losing food to poor quality if I am not constantly checking and maintaining the conditions. We do not have a true root cellar right now (but I caught hubby reading this book, so I’m sure it’s coming next summer). I have to just maximize these garden foods through delicious recipes designed to feature their homegrown flavors.
When it comes to onions, potatoes, apples, and garlic, I do use the cold storage method during the craziness of harvest time. But this time of year when food preservation has normally come to a standstill, I pull them out of the cupboard and preserve what is noticeably more than we can eat within the next 2-3 months. Truthfully, I prefer to have many of these foods in their dehydrated form because of the flavors and versatility. A cold storage apple becomes “mealy” to me about 4-5 months (again, I need that true root cellar!), but an apple ring? I can hardly keep those on my shelf!
The standard apple ring is simple. Use your apple corer to make the rings. Fill a large bowl with water and either some lemon juice or citric acid, and then drop the apples into that bowl until you are done coring/peeling them. Our family prefers apple rings to be peeled, and I think most people do, because the peel gets a tough texture on the dehydrated apple ring. When your bowl is full, place them on the Excalibur dehydrator trays, turn it on and walk away! These are so delicious by themselves.
You can often find a bag of them in my glove compartment or diaper bag as an emergency snack-of-choice. If you do them as listed above, they are perfect for snacking or for baking (remember to add extra water to your recipe to make up the difference for having used a dehydrated fruit). My children have decided that their adopted “grandma” makes them better than I do, though, because after using lemon juice she sprinkles them with cinnamon and sugar before dehydrating!
A homegrown potato cannot be beaten by its store-bought counterpart. Ever. And so I must argue for cold storage on those, unless you are getting too many eyes and black spots. This time of year, storebought potatoes are generally on good sales with Thanksgiving over and I will often stock up. Our potato patch does not currently sustain our family through the year (it is a goal for next summer, though!).
I prefer a store potato in its dehydrated form. They tend to be dry and dull-flavored anyway (can you see my gardening bias showing through?), and a dehydrated potato slice saves the day on a weary “what’s for dinner” kind of evening?
First, you must boil the potatoes until they are soft in the middle. You cannot skip this step! You do not want to over-boil them until they are falling apart, but just until soft. I say that this is about a half hour. I throw them into a metal bowl and place it into the refrigerator. I save the potato water for the next day’s bread baking. Once the potatoes are chilled, peeling is easily achieved with a paring knife. Next, you will want to pull out your Nesco Food Slicer. Remember, even slicing means that food will dehydrate at the same rate in your Excalibur. Pop the slices onto the tray—it is really that easy.
Dehydrated potatoes reconstitute in a saucepan of water in about 15 minutes. So my go-to meal is this: I start the saucepan of water and dump potatoes in right away. I pull out the cutting board and slice an onion and whatever veggies I might have on hand (Carrots? Cabbage? Garlic?). By the time I’m done with that, the potatoes have rehydrated and everything is ready for a buttery skillet. 15 minutes in a skillet with whatever leftover meat I found in the refrigerator, served with homemade sauerkraut and…WOW! It’s a delicious home cooked meal and an extremely healthy one in…about 15 minutes worth of work.
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.