Thursday, December 24, 2015

Final canning and dehydrating of 2015

Well, 2015 is winding down.  Here's my last batch of food preservation for the year:

Final canning of 2015

Left to right, that's

  • five pints of dehydrated cremini mushrooms
  • eight pint-and-a-half jars of cranberry juice
  • two quarts of dehydrated homegrown tomatoes
  • eight quarts of amazing turkey stock
  • one pint-and-a-half jar of turkey meat with the last bit of stock

This is the first time I've dehydrated mushrooms in a couple years.  The first time I tried, it wasn't successful at all.  The mushrooms dried fine, but they are so hygroscopic when dry that they started rehydrating immediately just from the humidity in the air.  I tried storing them in Ziplocs, in jars, and in Ziplocs IN jars.  Nothing worked to keep the moisture out, and they got leathery and floppy within a couple days, and moldy within a month.  Very disappointing.

This time around, I immediately sealed them in jars using the vacuum sealer attachment of my FoodSaver.  This worked brilliantly.  A week later, and they are still crispy dry and rattle in the jars.  Success!  I love my FoodSaver.

The cranberry juice is the leftover liquid from making dehydrated cranberries (which are still finishing in the dehydrator, but I estimate there will be three pints). I prepared the cranberries by boiling them in water until they popped, then soaked them in an orange juice and honey mixture for an hour to sweeten them before dehydrating.  The cooking/sweetener liquids had too much good flavor to waste, so I mixed them and canned it up.  Yum!

The tomatoes, well..... I'm still processing tomatoes.  You can see in the background of the pictures that I still have garden tomatoes ripening in my dining room, and I've been dehydrating them as they ripen.  I think this is it, though.  We're getting ready to go on vacation for a week and a half, so the last batch that's still not quite ready to dehydrate will be bagged up and tossed in the freezer.  I'll probably sauce them some time after we get back.  Not bad, to still have fresh garden tomatoes at the end of December!  I am officially calling my 2015 tomato harvest a RESOUNDING success.

The turkey stock is also a first for me- the first time canning it, anyway.  I've been freezing stock for years, but I'm out of room in my freezer and am delighted to have pressure canning in my arsenal now.  This batch of stock is one turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, one chicken carcass from several months ago, and four steak bones from some point this summer, plus a big bag of mixed veggie trimmings collected over the past few months.  I was cleaning out the freezer, obviously!  The stock is gorgeous and flavorful, and I'm very excited to have it on hand.

I did the single jar of turkey meat because I had 3/4 pound left over from the batch I got out to make soup the other day, and I knew it wouldn't last in the fridge until we got back from vacation.  So I jarred it, added the last bit of stock that wasn't enough for a full quart, and topped it off with water. Easy peasy, and ready for another batch of soup.

Canning and dehydrating is so satisfying.

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