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7/29/2015

Artisan Bread 

This bread came about as a real “What do I do with....?” scenario. It all started with leftover pizza dough. I was trying to think, what could you do with it that was different but of course tasty, without going down the pizza/calzone route. This bread was the result. The first thought was a focaccia like creation, with chopped pancetta sprinkled on top. Then I flipped through the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook, and saw where they kneaded the pancetta into the dough. Aha! We’re on to something now! What I will give you below is the dough recipe, which I got from The Table, the community kitchen where I work one day a week, with the pancetta and a liberal sprinkling of rosemary, kneaded in. Pancetta can usually be found in the deli section of your supermarket. The pancetta melts as it bakes, oozing into the bread like butter with porky goodness.

This recipe is fabulous, especially when you want pizza NOW.

Ingredients

• 1 (.25 oz.) package active dry yeast
• 1 tsp. white sugar
• 1 c. warm water (110 degrees)
• 2-1/2 cups bread flour
• 2 tbl. olive oil
• 1 tsp. salt

Instructions

• Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. • Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

3.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker's peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

This is if you want to make pizza with this lovely dough. I took things in a different direction after making the dough.

Artisan Bread with Pancetta and Rosemary:

• 6 slices pancetta, no substitute
• 1 tsp. dried rosemary

1. Dice the pancetta into 1/4-inch dice, and then knead it and the rosemary into the dough on a floured board. Once it is evenly distributed, shape the dough into a boule or round, about 2 inches thick in the middle, and about a 6-8 inches round. Let rise covered with a dishtowel, for about an hour. Heat your oven to 450 as mentioned above. Gently place lace boule on greased cookie sheet, and slash with an X across the top. Dust lightly with flour if desired. You can also sprinkle more of the dried rosemary on top if you wish.

2. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven), or until well browned. Remove, cool 10 minutes, and loosen from the sheet. Place on a rack to cool completely.

Notes:

• Hertzberg, Jeff and Francois, Zoe. Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007.
The Table Community Food Centre. Last accessed July 28, 2015.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/29/2015

Limoncello Summer Recipe 

I've had limoncello that was thick and tasted of lemon candy. The recipe below is lighter and has a more pure lemon flavor. 

But before we get to the recipe, a girlfriend who gardens in England wrote that she is overwhelmed with strawberries and asked what to do. (Poor dear!) I advised that she cut the berries in quarters into as big a jar as needed and cover with vodka.

When the berries are near white and the vodka is red, carefully strain out into bottles. Add a little simple syrup to taste. Put in the refrigerator and save for a gloomy winter day when a sip of sunshine will be most welcome. 

I should also mention: Should you have an embarrassment of raspberries, you'll want to do much the same as the strawberries: Rinse the berries gently and put into a bowl. Put on a nitrile glove and stick your hand in and just squoosh all the berries, in batches if you have a lot of them.

Keep squooshing until the berries are well broken, but don't use the food processor. You'll break seeds and that can be bitter — plus, you'll never get it well strained at the end. 

Put the berries into large jars, about 1/3 full, and top up with vodka. When the berries are near white and the vodka red, strain through a fine strainer into bottles. Add some simple syrup to taste — not too much!

Refrigerate until a gloomy winter's evening. Dilute with a bit of seltzer or champagne, if you like, for a celebratory brunch. I've recently thought to try adding agave syrup instead of a cane sugar syrup. I think it will work well! 

Super-Simple Limoncello Recipe

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

• 2 lemons
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/5-size bottle of vodka

Directions

1. Get a quart jar with lid.

2. Peel 2 lemons. Put the peel in your mini food processor with about 1/4 cup of sugar and process to a paste. 

3. Put the peel paste into the jar, pour in your 1/5-size bottle of vodka (you don’t have to get an expensive bottle; with the peel and sugar, you can't tell the difference).

4. Give it a shake, let it infuse 3 or 4 days and strain out back into your vodka bottle that you cleverly saved. 

5. Sip over ice, diluted a bit if you like.

Photo by MorgueFile/verbaska


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/28/2015

Jostaberries 

Jostaberries are a cross between black currants and two different species of gooseberry, resulting in a delicious firm black fruit on upright plants without thorns. While they can take a long time to pick, the unusually productive bushes produce fruit that's well worth the effort.

They're one of the few fruiting plants that does well in shady wet zones, and every year I harvest nearly 10 pounds of fruit off a bush growing on swampy soil under near full shade cover.

They taste more like gooseberries when unripe, and more like black currants when fully ripe, but at either stage they make fabulous, full-flavored jam without the need for added pectin.

The sugar needed will vary based on the ripeness of the fruit and your tastes but, being a sour fruit, this is not a good candidate for a sugar-free jam.

Jostaberry Jam 

Yields 4 to 6 half-pint jars

Jostaberry Jam Recipe

Ingredients:

• 4 cups jostaberries, stemmed
• 2-4 cups sugar
• 1/4 cup lime juice

Instructions:

1. Wash and stem the jostaberries and bring to a simmer in a large pot with 1/4 cup of lime juice.

2. After the berries begin to release their juices, add sugar, and cook for a few minutes before tasting to check for sweetness. Add more sugar if needed, and continue to cook until the jam jells on a cold plate or spoon.

3. Pour into sterilized half-pint jars with 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

4. Remove the jars from the water with canning tongs, and set to cool overnight on a towel or hot pad.

5. Enjoy!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/28/2015

Planting a New Garden 

In this season, the fruits swell fast and ripen in the heat. Each time I sit to write this blog my mind is redirected by current social events of our time. Do any of them connect to food? Does any aspect of human behavior not relate to how we feed ourselves? Still, with every ripening harvest of karmic fruit, I am challenged with how to write something that is useful and relevant.

We are witnessing the collapse of economies and violent fear attacks toward black, working poor of America. Simultaneously, there is a worldwide movement for clean local food, veganic living and GMO labeling. These concerns are often presented as projects for the privileged to advocate for.

Do the citizens of Greece find themselves thinking about the real benefits of small-scale urban farms as their banks close and the stores empty? Are the revolting citizens in United States cities considering the strategic impact of local food production during times of martial law and civic rebellion against police terrorism?

Grow Where You Are

Grow Where You Are is a collective that remains on the front line actively encouraging food sovereignty through urban awakening. We create mini-farms and fruit orchards in communities where our members live and work. We willingly sacrifice time, money and emotional comfort to complete the community prototypes so vital to educating us about resilience.

Our collective is majority women and people of color. This informs our service and demands that we be intentional and compassionate. So, as the world turns and the strange fruits drop worldwide, we are reflecting on our impacts. This blog post will outline some of our core projects and outreach methods in an effort to share best practices for developing local food systems in communities that are most in need. Health problems, economic barriers and systemic racialized brutality can all be addressed by assisting people with the skills to recognize and activate the existing resources required to gain some level of food sovereignty.

“Food security” and “food access” are terms used by the corporate world to give themselves license to dump old, processed foods into underserved communities through food banks or inject funds into start-up businesses from outside the community to transform corner stores. All of these plans maintain the current status of communities of color as consumers.

We aim to restore production in our neighborhoods by utilizing existing land, people and funds that are allocated for food access projects.  This is an opportunity and a challenge to corporations and foundations to direct their money toward initiatives that are directed by growers on the ground.

Healthy World Gathering 

Building Urban Mini-Farms

Our Food and Faith project has been successful in partnering with land owning faith-based institutions to install and manage urban mini-farms that feed the community and have the potential to generate wealth. Nationwide, there are thousands of churches and faith-based institutions that own land in urban areas that are ready for a drastic transformation. This land can be the catalyst for a full revival of health and consciousness after it is made productive again. Residents can be trained, church members can be fed and meaningful relationships can be born.

These ground-level community relationships built on the foundation of serving one another are fundamental to decreasing community violence from the police and residents. When the youth can gain skills in urban agriculture, their level of self confidence rises dramatically as they become essential food producers for their family and neighbors.

The life skills that we train folks in at our farm sites not only build character; they also offer people a sense of stability as we all face some very significant social changes ahead. The economic collapse in Greece is a clear signal that the practice of fractional reserve banking has no happy ending.

The Virtues of a More Plant-Based Diet

As economies continue to disintegrate globally, the environmental impacts of our toxic, meat-based food system become vividly clear. We are in a time where it is imperative that we all move toward a plant-based lifestyle and veganic growing practices to source nutrient-dense foods. Veganic growing is free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers as well as the use of blood meal, bone meal and other animal inputs.

Amazing results can be achieved with plant-based compost and agro-ecological practices. As you begin to examine the current western consumption of meat the direct correlation to all the chronic diseases is apparent. What's more is the addiction to high-meat consumption has environmental impacts globally, as well as locally.

In the film Cowspiracy, there are some terrifying and often concealed statistics that point to industrial animal farming as the cause of more toxic greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. The wasted water in commercial agriculture that is causing tremendous drought in California and other agricultural regions of the world is due to the mono-cropping of animal feed and the water usage for satisfying the thirst of unnaturally large populations of large cows and pigs living in factory farms where there are no trees or green vegetation to cool them. This cruel treatment is wasteful and unnecessary.

Vegan BBQ 

Agro-ecology and Regrowing Healthy Neighborhoods

We recently hosted our second vegan community feasts where we fed over 150 people a gourmet meal for free at our Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Center in Southwest Atlanta. This amazing food production site is becoming a community gathering space where folks meet one another and develop trust which increases the safety of our community. The Agro-Ecology Center is located on the grounds of Atlanta Good Shepherd Community Church and is a creative way to achieve the mission of serving the community as we work to educate folks on the impacts of their food choices.

These examples combine methods and approaches to spark the interest about the value of controlling our own food supply, as well as making the move toward a nutritious plant-based diet. At this time, we may have little control over fiat money systems or even the violent terrorism from the police and our own abused community members, so we must find ways to stabilize our food supply locally and begin to build the community connections that will quite possibly save our lives.

There is a tremendous amount of value in the strategically forgotten urban neighborhoods of this nation, and that is why there is such a push from outside communities to reclaim them. We as the current and long-time residents must recognize and add value to these underused pieces of land and begin to regrow our health, wealth and love around them.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/28/2015

Plums

Plums: The Backstory

My tree was so laden with golden plums, it was frightening. The limbs were starting to pelt the house, driveway and passersby with little yellow grenades. Hungry -- not angry -- birds perched lazily in the branches watching the fruit ripen by the minute. High time for me to research plum recipes.

Last season, I made the mistake of taking the “easy” way out to preserve the bounty of plums. I spent hours picking buckets of ripe fruit. I washed them, but was too lazy to pit, chop or otherwise prep them. I pricked the plums all over with a fork, then layered them in sweet and tangy brine, allowing them to marinate as they baked in a low oven. I put them in sterilized glass canning jars, sealed and processed them. And there I stood proudly with a full case of the little sweet plums. The problem? My family and friends love plum jams, preserves, conserves and pies but plain fruit with pits? Not so much.

I vowed this year I was going to put up only what we actually eat -- delicious canned foods like sweet and dill pickles, relishes, ketchup, mustard and preserves. I don’t want to endure another July where I find jars of punctured, unpitted plums lurking in the closet. Canned goods are a lot like clothes: if you didn’t wear it last year, chances are you won’t wear it this year. Only, in this case it’s about coming to terms with what you will and won’t eat.

Time to Think… and Pit

So, back to the original challenge as the steadily ripening plums wink at me from the tree limbs. For inspiration, I sit under the little golden globes with a basket of canning books and a tall glass of Jasmint (jasmine and mint) iced tea. I scan and dog-ear pages. Saving the Season by Kevin West has a wonderful chapter about plums and plum jam and plum sauces. The author experienced one incredible year with a bumper crop of plums -- and then the tree stopped producing. Well, that would be one solution. But mine appears to be the Whack-a-Mole of plum trees: pick one plum, and another two pop up.

As yet another plum plunked me on the head, I swallowed my last bit of tea, took my canning books out of the basket, and began to pick. The plums were beautiful on this blue-sky summer morning. I had settled on a wonderful preserve recipe that looked both delicious and simple. Like most of my canning recipes, it comes from the well-tested Ball Blue Book of Food Preserving.

Jars for Plums

Ingredients:

Yields about 5 half-pints

• 5 cups pitted tart plums (about 2-1/2 pounds)
• 4 cups sugar
• 1 cup water

These are not in the Blue Book recipe, but I love their flavors in preserves:
• 1 teaspoon almond flavoring
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Read through the entire recipe to be sure you don’t have to run out to the store for sugar in the middle of your preparations.

1. Wash jars, lids and rims in hot, soapy water. You can also wash jars and rims in the dishwasher, but wash the lids by hand so the rubber rim does not get compromised.

2. You can use jars, hot, right out of the dishwasher. Or, fill your water-bath canner with water, put it on the stove, bring to a boil, and immerse the washed jars into the simmering pot. They will sterilize nicely while you make your preserves. Put lids and rims in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them.

It’s the Pits

3. Is there anything more yawn-provoking then pitting fruit? At least when you peel a pile of tomatoes, you get the excitement of plopping them in boiling water and seeing the magic of how easily the peel is removed. But pitting? Ugh. Be sure to turn on NPR or your favorite music to make the chore a little less tedious. All I can say is: pit plums to measure 5 cups.

4. Pour your plums into a large non-corrosive pot along with all the ingredients. Mix well and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. You want to bring the mixture to a rolling, bubbling boil, cooking just to the gelling point. Be sure to keep stirring so the mixture doesn’t stick. Remove from heat and skim foam from the surface.

The Fun Part

5. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Adjust the lid and screw on the rim. Lower each jar into your water-bath canner and process 15 minutes – or whatever length of time your altitude required. This guidance is readily available online or in a food preservation book.

6. After processing, lift jars out to rest on a fluffy towel like they are at the beach. They will reward you with satisfying “ping, ping, pings” as they cool and the vacuums form.

You can read more of Dede's writing and published features on the Dashboard Communications website and in her archived blog posts with MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/27/2015

Making fermented pickles requires us get friendly with bacteria.

As discussed in my previous post, a pickle is nothing more than a vegetable preserved in an acidic brine. Acid is the silver bullet against botulism and also gives pickles their signature tangy taste. For quick pickles, often called vinegar pickles, the brine is acidified with vinegar.

In making fermented pickles, also called brined pickles or lacto-fermented pickles, the brine acidifies naturally, thanks to the activity of beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. The microbiology is fascinating and complex, but all you really need to know is that the beneficial lactobacillus bacteria occur naturally on the vegetables you’ll pickle, and the fermenter’s role is to encourage them to do their thing. In one sense, fermenting is akin to gardening. Gardening requires patience, diligence, and careful attention, but you don’t actually make the garden grow. Instead, you create the conditions for the garden to flourish as nature takes it course. Likewise, with fermenting, you don’t make the ferment bubble, but you do tend the microenvironment of your ferment in order to foster conditions favorable to the beneficial bacteria. And, just as the gardener takes steps to discourage weeds, you take steps to discourage undesirable microorganism such mold and yeast.

Some people prefer the unique, rich flavor of traditionally fermented pickles (kosher dills, for instance) to the sharper flavor of vinegar pickles, but to me the most significant difference between the two classes of pickles is that fermented pickles are a raw, live, pro-biotic food. (See Michael Pollan’s New York Times Magazine article here for an overview of research linking our bodies’ microbiome, including gut flora, to health.) In my experience, the effect of fermented pickles on digestion is noticeable and beneficial.

Many firm vegetables—including cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, turnips, and green tomatoes—can be fermented. The only essential ingredients apart from the vegetables themselves are sea salt and bottled water.

The 6 Elements of Successful Fermenting

The six basic elements of all successful ferments are: vegetables, water, salt, aromatics, time, and care. At the bottom of this post, I’ll give you my Universal Fermenting Recipe, which is basically a simple ratio of salt to water with some added aromatics.

But the real secret to successful fermenting lies in your attention to the Six Elements, so I’ll start with each in turn.

Vegetables: As with all preserving, good results begin with good ingredients. Choose fresh, crisp, young vegetables picked at the height of the growing season. Rinse well, and trim the blossom end of cucumbers and squash to remove enzymes that can cause the pickle to soften. Vegetables can be sliced (zucchini spears), chunked (large cucumbers or squash), or left whole (green beans, small cucumbers, small green tomatoes).

As for greens: many dark leafy greens will develop an unpleasant chlorophyll taste. But when fermenting turnips I’ll sometimes add a handful of the tops, and trimmed chard stems make a good pickle.

Water: Tap water from municipal water systems has been treated with chlorine or chloramine to kill microbes. It will disrupt the beneficial bacteria you’re trying to encourage in your ferment. Always use bottled spring water instead.

Salt: Salt adds flavor, hardens the vegetables’ pectin to make pickles crunchy, and regulates bacterial growth. The brine will taste quite salty at first, but a portion of the salt is absorbed by the vegetables, and everything comes out right in the end.

Unrefined sea salt is the best choice. Salt’s weight-by-volume varies substantially with flake size, and sea salt will come closest to the recipe measurements. (Kosher salt, which is much flakier, will under-salt the brine.) Unrefined sea salt also contains trace minerals that yield a crunchier pickle.

Incidentally, there is no “right” amount of salt in a brine. The standard ratio of 5% salt by weight is a useful guideline, not a fixed rule. A less-salty brine will ferment faster, and extra salt will slow down a ferment. In summer’s heat, stick with the recipe below.

Aromatics: Be generous with aromatics, such as whole garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh dill and whole dill heads, and whole spices including black peppercorns, dill seeds, and caraway seeds. My recipe below gives suggestions, but don’t feel constrained by them. Other options include fresh horseradish, dried red chilies, and pearl onions.

Incidentally, one often sees the advice to add grape leaves or oak leaves to a ferment, the idea being that their tannins help crisp the pickle. It’s a nice touch, but not at all necessary.

Time: As mentioned, fermenting is a natural process, and it requires time to work. Warmer temperatures accelerate the process, and colder temperatures slow it down. In a comfortable room, around 70 degrees, the brine will begin to cloud in two days. Within three to four days, it will start to bubble and sour. The pickles will be half-sour in about a week, and fully sour in two weeks. At 80 degrees, the whole process might happen in a week. In a cool cellar, it might take three weeks or more. In a cold refrigerator, fermentation occurs imperceptibly over the course of months.

Care: Because of the variables inherent to each ferment (salt and temperature), the only way to judge your pickles’ process is to inspect them carefully. You can’t leave a crock or jar unattended for a week and expect good results. Instead, look at the pickles daily. Make sure they stay submerged (more on that below). Expect to find a thin film of yeast forming on the brine surface and maybe even tiny pinheads of mold. Don’t worry about these signs of life. Skim off the floaters and wipe the wall of the crock or jar if necessary. As long as you keep the micro-garden of your ferment well “weeded” by skimming daily, everything will be fine.

Once the pickles start to sour, taste daily. Once they are soured to your liking, put them in the fridge for keeping. They will last a month or longer.

Universal Fermented-Pickle Recipe

Yields about 2 quarts

2 pounds sturdy vegetables, such as Kirby cucumbers, small zucchini, green beans, baby turnips, or green tomatoes
• 6 4-inch sprigs fresh dill (including seed heads, if available)
• 6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
• 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
• 1 tablespoon dill seed
• 6 level tablespoons sea salt (2.25-2.5 ounces)
• 2 quarts bottled spring water

1. Wash and trim the vegetables, and pack into a one-gallon jar or crock. Tuck in the dill, garlic, and other aromatics as you go.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water, and pour over the vegetables to cover. Weight the vegetables with a plate so that they remain completely submerged. Alternatively, fill a Ziploc freezer bag with brine, and use it to submerge the vegetables. (Make extra brine using the same proportions if necessary). If using a jar, loosely close the lid. (Do not seal it so because gases produced by the ferment need to escape.) If using a crock, cover it with a plate or board to keep out unwanted visitors.

3. Store the ferment in a cool, dark place, and check daily. Skim any scum or flecks of mold. Insure that the vegetables remain submerged. The pickles will begin to sour in less than a week. You can eat them at any point in the fermenting process. Once soured to your likely, transfer the pickles to the refrigerator, and keep submerged in brine. They will keep for a month or longer.

Click here for previous posts from Home Canning 101.

Click here for more information on blogger Kevin West.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/27/2015

 

In this post, I promised to go over pros and cons of the two food dehydrators I own: a Nesco™ and an Excalibur™. Both dehydrators are great and I'll start with the stackable Nesco™.

Nesco™ Dehydrator Pros and Cons

Pros:

• Can add as many trays as necessary
• Affordable accessories

Cons:

• No timer
• No on/off switch

When you're first starting out, you may wish to opt for the model with the fewest trays for the cost factor. Due to the Nesco™s stackability, please be aware that you must not run the Nesco™ with any less than 4 trays. Why? Four trays ensure enough height for proper warm-air circulation. If you find you love dehydrating (and why wouldn't you?!) you can purchase more trays online and expand your Nesco™ dehydrator's capacity. (If you only have enough food for two trays, simply insert another tray above and below one of the trays to make up the four tray total.)

Electric Outlet Strip

The great part about being able to stack as many trays as you need is just that! This way, you won't be running your dehydrator with empty trays as could be the case with a fixed-amount-tray unit — you'll be drying just the amount you want to dry.

On my Nesco™ dehydrator the temperature dial is right on the lid, making it very convenient to use. To start it, you simply plug it in. This is one of my peeves. If you're at all like me and don't like the idea of plugging something in and out of the wall socket to turn it on and off, then plug the dehydrator into a outlet strip first, and use the on/off switch on that.

The Excalibur™ Dehydrator Pros and Cons

Pros:

• Take out alternate trays for taller foods
• Affordable accessories
• Use as a bread proofer

Cons:

• A little more expensive
• Spend more and get a proper on/off switch, and timer

The Excalibur™ model I purchased was the "starter 4-tray" dehydrator. To access the trays, you lift out a very lightweight front flap and then you simply slide the trays out. The temperature dial is on top of the machine, towards the rear.

Just like the Nesco™ model, this also only works by plugging it straight in and out of the wall socket — so use the outlet idea here too. If you opt for a pricier Excalibur™, you will more than likely find that they did include a proper on/off switch-along with a timer — now that's handy! After you've filled your dehydrator in the morning, the timer will turn the machine off later on — if you're at work or out shopping or digging in the garden!

Another great use for the Excalibur™ is as a bread-proofer! Yes, you can use it to raise your bread dough. How? Take out the top trays, leave the lower one in. At the very bottom of the dehydrator, partially fill a foil pan with clean water. Put in your bread dough on top of the lower tray in its baking pan, cover the bread with a cloth to keep the dough from drying out. Follow your bread recipe after proofing. A 4-tray dehydrator is fine for proofing hot dog buns, but for a loaf of bread? A 9-tray unit is better suited as you'll get the required height to proof a full loaf.

A pro for Excalibur™ dehydrators is the ability to take out alternate trays. This is a great feature for foods that would otherwise get squashed between the trays such as broccoli and cauliflower florets which tend to be a bit on the "tall side."

For either machine that doesn't have a built-in timer, consider purchasing a timer that is used for turning lamps on and off. If you know you're not going to be home on time to turn it off, the handy timer will do it for you.

Dehydrator Accessories

In my next post I'll go over some of the accessories available to both the Nesco™ and Excalibur™ electric dehydrators such as mesh screens that keep your dehydrator trays clean(er), and a tip or two on affordable accessory substitutions that you may already have on hand.

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies toofor long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry fullwhatever the reason or season!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.












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