Praeparet pessimus et spes ad optimus.
How to not live stupid. My wife and I live in an area where we get hurricanes often enough that we’ve learn many things. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years. People don’t learn very well and repeat their mistakes with alarming regularity. To that point let’s look at the grocery stores a day before a hurricane. Bare shelves and it’s always the same stuff that is gone. The extra slow people come in a bit later and complain because the store ran out. It is always the same thing without fail. This by the way is for an emergency that you can actually watch as it approaches. It is an emergency that most of us watch with mild and slightly guarded curiosity. Another thing that happens is that lumber stores run out of plywood that is used to cover windows. I have no idea or interest in what happens to any of this stuff after the storm passes, but I suspect they throw it all away or burn it afterwards during a New Years Eve bonfire. Anyway the next year and sometimes even the next storm of the same year the same thing happens. It is amazing. I knew one person that actually built mounts on either side of his windows and covered the mounts with fancy fake shutters. If a storm came he removed the shutters and installed his nice solid one inch plywood blast boards and attached them with wing nuts. After danger passed he put it all away and marveled at how his neighbors didn’t even notice what he was doing.
This is in a grocery store in Mississippi six days after Harvey hit Texas with Irma one and a half weeks out with no way of knowing where it will hit. Bacon is almost sold out with sugar and flour almost gone. Harvey has awakened the zombie hordes and Irma spurred them into action. The point here is that the panic didn’t start when Harvey showed up in the Gulf.
What I just described here is quite common. We’ve now seen it in the north with named snow storms. I do think this is fair and enjoyable. We get to laugh at you guys in the north now. I remember a time when we didn’t have all of this drama, the news just said “Bring in the brass monkeys tonight it’s going to get really cold.” This change in the news points to where we are as a society. Everyone screams for attention so they can sell things. These days everything is about marketing and I’m kind of doing that here too. Oh you didn’t notice? Buy my books and leave nice comments at Amazon. Now that we have that out of the way let me bribe you with the free info I have gathered over the years.
I will be going into storing meat and the many ways that can be done and I’ll give you links to start you on your way. I will discuss dehydration and even fermentation. Where possible I will simply point to web pages so you can start down that road because I do not feel the need to reinvent the wheel. Look at it as more of a historical hobby than prepping. The only reason prepping seems to be ridiculous to so many people is because like the people I started out describing during hurricanes, too many people just don’t learn. Most people are unaware our society is run by dunderheads that think it is a good idea to do things like have “just in time” supply chains. Not one of those educated dummies has had the wisdom to ask a simple question and it is this… “Okay. So like what happens if there is a massive earthquake that severs rail lines or highways? What if there is a workers strike at a supplier that serves several of our suppliers and that stops their production for a while?” That takes you to a place only a man would go. All of the parrots around you will freak out because suddenly you are not one of them. A person that asks the above question in a groupthink environment will immediately be airlocked into the vacuum of reality. It is called group think and it’s very dangerous. It reminds me of something that was passed around at work many years ago. It came if I remember correctly from despair.com. It was a picture of a meeting in a board room and the heading said quite simply “Meetings! Because none of us is as dumb as all of us.” https://despair.com/collections/posters/products/meetings
The government, FEMA to be particular, tells you to have 72 hours of supplies. That’s for the average disaster. What about the big one? We lived through Katrina. When I moved south to work at MAF my first planning decision was to take one look at New Orleans and say “I’m just not going to live in an area that has to be protected by dykes and pumping stations. That’s a situation that like the 72 hour supply will work most of the time, but not all of the time. It’s been close to thirteen years since Katrina hit as I start writing this and New Orleans is relearning this…I hope…but I doubt. They wouldn’t be flooding right now from simple rainstorms if they’d fixed their damn pumping stations and generators instead of trying to erase history by removing statues.
For me living in a neighborhood was no longer an option. If you read my link on Hells’ five acres you can get a picture of what I’m doing. Now as for what I’ve done on this road I’m trying to explain to you; I’ve made jerky, bacon, ham (dry cure and wet cure for the bacon and ham. You could play baseball or bludgeon a person with one of my dry cure hams), Hamburger and bacon confit (packed and dried with the fat covering it as a bacteria and oxygen barrier,), Sauer Kraut, Kimchi, soy sauce, sake (Whew!), gochuchaing, miso, mirin, brown rice vinegar, cheese and even butter. I have dehydrated and canned a lot of things. The confits I mentioned I canned in pint jars. I’ve canned butter, cheese, cottage cheese etc. Dehydrating is also a good skill to learn. If you don’t have time for a garden you can wait until a u-pik farm is open and then load up and dehydrate cheap produce. We did a bunch of that this year. I dehydrated several bushels of green beans, zucchini, peppers and a mess of tomatoes. I’ve dehydrated cooked beans and then re-hydrated them with ham, brown sugar, onions and peppers to make a perfect ham and beans recipe. These are just some of the things I’ll be sharing with you. Mushrooms meaning the non gilled mushrooms like boletes or chanterelles are worth the trouble too. If you join the local mycologists club for a while you will learn a lot and eat much better for it. I remember the first meeting I went to. Everybody was already gone on their foray because I was a little late. One guy was still there and quickly introduced himself. He took me on a small and very local foray. While we were walking he came upon a very interesting specimen. His spiel was epic and reaffirmed that which I already knew and I got a laugh out of it. I’ll get to that at the end of his spiel though. “Now this is an interesting specimen right here. This is a rare instance of a newly discovered mushroom that was named by one mycologist as an insult to a mycologist he hated. (I can’t remember where the two mycologists lived so I’ll wing it here.) So and so lived in Poland and he hated a Hungarian mycologist by the name of Schweinitzii. The name of this particular fungus is phaeolus schweinitzii, which means pile of s**t schweinitzii.” I had something re-affirmed then and there. Education doesn’t make you stop being an asshole. Actually it makes some people even worse. Also there is a huge difference between education and learning.
We all keep getting lectures from the champagne socialists about not using so much energy and how we need to decrease our carbon footprint. That is a phrase that amazes me because it has been created as a political tool. Modern life has made quite a mess of things and I’ve started looking back to what worked in the past. That brings me to a warning here. When you do any of this you do it at your own risk. If you get it wrong there are consequences. In life, “We pays our money and we takes our chances.” Research and understand what you are doing and you will be fine. There is a serious survival of the fittest element in all of this.
I will be adding to all of these things and as I learn them I’ll put them up here too. Don’t expect weekly updates to this section. When I get this section complete I’ll add a recipe section so that you can experiment. Use it as a starting point.
Oh the title up there? It’s from an online Latin (gravitas multiplying translator) to make me sound cooler. It simply says. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Dehydrators are required for most of this. Keep in mind that a solar dehydrator that makes you feel really ‘progressive’ is a great idea. You however absolutely need one that uses electricity or some other heat source. If you don’t have that you will as I did when drying green beans end up tossing a mass of green goo because the sun thumbed its nose at you. In other words and the lesson here is maintaining options in everything you do is a good idea. I have always used the stackable dehydrators with the round trays. Several years back I bought a big stainless steel dehydrator that worked great until the thermostat failed. What caused that failure was the incubation of aspergillus oryzae for making Miso soy sauce etc. Initially when starting one of those ferments you add a little heat and then back off because it starts generating its own heat. That generated warm moist air that condensed on and in the electrical parts because it was sitting in a cool room. Duh! I quickly ordered a Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster. In a day or so it will be here and I’ll be back on track. Once it arrives I’ll remove the thermostat and probe from the stainless one to get the part number and manufacturer. If you can’t find the parts list for replacements at a manufacturers site that’s what you do. Manufacturers of dehydrators usually get their parts from other manufacturers to keep their costs down. They don’t usually make of their own electric hardware. Right now that stainless dehydrator has its fan blowing room temperature air on some blueberries and several racks of skinned tomato halves that will be stored in oil. When the new dehydrator arrives, those tomato pieces will be loaded into it. I already had an old round dehydrator and it’s drying some tomatoes as well. Now about the round dehydrators; always buy the ones where the fan is blowing air up from the bottom so the motor doesn’t corrode. I usually buy several dehydrators that are all the same so that when one motor craps out I grab one that hasn’t been used yet. That allows me to run a stack of produce through all at once.
Since this section concerns meat I want to make a point right up front. You will have bones left over while doing all of this. That is only true if you’re shopping smart. Buying only deboned and skinned products is a huge mistake. We live in a market driven society and the market is responding to the fact that we’re lazy and not very smart. Bone broths have vitamins, minerals and cartilage in them that your body uses to make up your bones, joints, fingernails and hair. We have many diet related illnesses these days and they are being caused not by the Illuminati or reptilian aliens seeking to take us over. What medical damage occurs from this like the rest of the damage, will be caused by laziness. (end of that lecture) I tend to save the bones and skin from just about everything and then make a bone broth. Store the bones in the freezer until you have enough to bother with. Here’s a link to help you with that. Remember waste not want not. http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-bouillon-portable-soup/
Lesson number one Confit. Here is a link for you to look at. https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-confit-995765
Let’s start with hamburger. What I do is pick 73/27 hamburger because it’s cheaper and I get the bacteria barrier at the same time. I cook it and then brown it, dehydrate it, cram it in a jar and then cover it in the fat I rendered out of it and stick it in the oven for thirty minutes or so and seal the jar when I remove it. The lid will seal as it cools. That lid tells you if there’s a serious problem in there by the way. If it’s bulging it’s a problem don’t eat it. So does your nose. This isn’t an actual confit however. This is more like pemmican, which is very different from jerky. In pemmican you have fat and berries added to the dried meat. This is dried hamburger stored in fat. This three pound chub of 73/27 gave me one and a half pints of dehydrated hamburger. That’s why it’s a good idea to do two of them instead of one.
The process goes like this.
Fry the hamburger on low to medium until it quits releasing fat.
Dehydrate the hamburger and keep mixing it up once in a while until it is dry. I can’t emphasize this enough; keep rotating your trays in the dehydrator so you don’t leave moisture in part of it while burning the flavor out of the rest. Dehydrators need to be worked not turned on and walked away from. Like everything else in life you get back what you put into it.
Once it’s dry cram it into as small of a space as you can. If I could get all of it into a one pint jar I would. After that pour the melted fat on top until you can’t get anymore in the jar. Make sure you work all of the air pockets out. Then place the jar in an oven at about 210F for at least 30 minutes with the lid loosely attached. After everything is nice and warmed up pull the jar out, tighten the ring to seal the lid and let it rest on a counter. Make sure the lid sealed before you even think about trusting it. The instructions on the canning jars or lids will tell you what you’re looking for.
This is what it looks like after it cools.
When I hydrate it I put it into hot water and let it cool. The fat floats to the top where I skim it off and save it. Fat has many uses so find a way to save it. Learn to make soap even. After it has hydrated it can be browned a bit more and then used for spaghetti or whatever you were going to use it for.
This is the same process as above with one difference. Bacon tastes so much better if you really get it nice and brown. I dehydrate it mostly in the pan. There is some moisture when I put it in the jar. I top it off with fat and let it cool a good bit and top it off again. A 48 Oz. package usually gives me two pint jars. As with the hamburger I finish them off in the oven.
Fry the Bacon until it quits releasing fat.
Dehydrate the bacon and keep mixing it up once in a while until it is dry
Once it’s dry cram it into as small of a space as you can. If I could get all of it into a one pint jar I would. After that pour the melted fat on top until you can’t get anymore in the jar. Make sure you work all of the air pockets out. Then place the jar in an oven at about 210F for at least 30 minutes with the lid loosely attached. After everything is nice and warmed up pull the jar out seal the lid and let it rest on a counter.
This is what it looks like after it cools.
I use this as an ingredients for hydrated green beans, hashbrowns, pork and beans, zucchini etc.
In this picture I have on the left a dry cure pork loin above to it’s right a dry cure turkey thigh in the middle is a chipotle in adobo and nectar Canadian bacon. I gave a small piece of this to a friend and his wife used it for quite a while on pizza. She was shaving it off and using it like it was a truffle. To the right of the Canadian bacon I have some pork belly curing for some more bacon and above that is an old piece of bacon that is just about used up. This is just to show I actually do this stuff. I love it. I can make things that you just can’t buy and if I could find them to buy they would be ridiculously priced.
Here is a website I used to go to. I bought the book eventually so I don’t need the website anymore. Here is the website. http://ruhlman.com/
His book ‘Charcuterie’ that he did with Brian Polcyn is amazing. Buy it if you want to have some culinary fun.
This provides a little more information including a recipe for the dry cure.
The recipe I use for the dry cure is; One pound of salt plus one half pound of brown sugar and ten teaspoons of pink salt. Pink salt is also called insta cure #1. (This is not that hipster Himalayan pink salt)
The reason it is pink is so that people won’t kill themselves by using it like regular salt. Here is a link to buy it. https://www.sausagemaker.com/insta-cure-no-1-1lb-p/11-1012.htm
I store the above dry cure mixture in mason jars. It is added to a pork loin at a rate of 2 teaspoons per pound. I usually work with pork loin roasts and will add ten teaspoons to a 2.5 gallon zip lock bag along with a five pound loin roast. I will make sure the loin is evenly covered with the cure and will redistribute it by rolling the roast around in the bag at least once a day and put it back into the refrigerator. After a week I add whatever marinade I want to put in there with it. One week later I take it out of the bag clean and dry it so I can smoke it. If you happen to have fruit trees save your pruning pieces so you can smoke your meat in exotic flavors. I’ve made some amazing bacon using jalapeno jelly as the marinade and then smoking it with peach. Molasses and siracha with wild cherry smoke was another killer recipe for bacon. Maple syrup with black pepper and apple smoke is pretty good as well. Anyway you can become a meat artisan yourself. It is fun believe me.
Here’s a good one on salt curing the old way. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/uncle-billys-salt-cured-ham-zm0z91zblon He says you can hang the ham on your back porch once you’re done. No thanks. I’ll build a root cellar.
This is a good first sausage to make. It is simply awesome with homemade sauerkraut. http://www.lets-make-sausage.com/polish-kielbasa.html
Here are a few of the Facebook groups I go to. If you want to get into these groups send them a request. Read what they have to say at the top of their page many of them are loosely affiliated with the rest of the groups you will need. The charcuterie pages will have links in them that will tell you exactly how to make what you can’t afford. I’m referring to equipment and food that will blow your cooking skills through the roof.
What you will discover is that there are many ways to do all of this. Be careful and do your research. As with anything else in life whether we realize it or not we’re all on our own,
I’ll address the cramming of eggs into the dairy category first and then what to do to store them for long term. Eggs were added into the dairy category when they couldn’t figure out what other category to put them in. They say it was put there because it’s an animal byproduct. So are a lot of other things that aren’t considered dairy. It may well be that Melvin Deetz was partially responsible for this force fit into the dairy category. While as a child and visiting his Grandparents farm in upstate New York, he discovered a huge stack of pallets with stainless steel milk containers and was amazed so he took pictures. Later when he was working for the government he was in a focus group where the government was trying to validate itself and appear knowledgeable in all things. They had hit a wall known as reality. Melvin like any experienced government employee seized the opportunity and told them that eggs are dairy products because they come from places where cows make their nests and he passed the photos of those glistening pallets of milk containers. He added emphatically that most of those places also have chickens. “Chickens make nests and we eat them and Cows we now know make nests and we eat them too so eggs by association are dairy products.” He was on a roll and continued. “We also know that rain makes clouds. We at the department of agriculture must ensure the fact that eggs come out of a chickens butt doesn’t get included into any explanations of our thinking so that the public doesn’t start trying to eat cow patties, meadow muffins and road apples. The public is not as intelligent as we are. We need to protect them from themselves.” Anyway it was probably something like that.
Here is a video on how to water glass your eggs for the winter. It is a process that’s been around for years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTlcCvvUjl0
Canning butter and cheese in general. You can do a lot more than this. What you will find is a large number of institutions telling you it can’t be done safely. When I get to the fermentation part I will explain how to use various cultures to preserve milk. By the way cheese in some cultures is actually stored in oil. PH, water content and air contact are the biggies. Here is some kefir cheese stored in oil. Kefir actually seems to act as a bit of a preservative for the oil which can go rancid quite easily. Kefir is often stored at room temperature with a bit of olive oil across the top as an atmospheric barrier. For some reason olive oil in that situation doesn’t seem to go rancid and neither does the kefir.
This is some kefir cheese I’ve stored for quite a few years in olive oil as an experiment. Still smells okay. Fermenters kitchen the facebook group goes into making kefir. I put a link to that in the fermentation section below this.
I’ll toss in a nay sayers link on here just for the heck of it. Anything that comes out of agencies these days is highly suspect to me. I’ve seen them say things are safe only to have them reverse it several times over the years. I view them as meddlesome and needy. Anyway here you go. https://www.clemson.edu/extension/food/canning/canning-tips/38canning-dairy-products.html
Here is a video on the subject. She makes some good points.
I use two pint jars and seven sticks of butter. Melt them on the stove while bringing the oven up to about 210F. After I have melted the butter I put it into the jars. You have to agitate it because the solids sink to the bottom of the pot. You want to distribute everything equally into the two jars. After you have done that place the jars into the oven for about thirty minutes. Remove the jars and tighten the lids. Many people will tell you the butter will go bad in a year or so. I have some that I canned the year after the Great Zombie Apocalypse election of 2008.(It, like the Great Depression wasn’t all that Great.) I’m still using it nine years later. One thing that happens is it can take on a slight taste of parmesan and that works for me. In Ireland they’ve recently discovered butter that was stored in the peat bogs and it’s hundreds of years old. They’re discussing whether it’s safe to eat or not. They will probably keep that up until they can claim it’s definitely a health hazard having been out of that acidic environment for so long. After that they’ll probably sacrifice a rat on the alter of cowardice and procrastination without stopping to think about the fact they could have fed it to the rat just to see if it’s safe.
This is what the butter looks like when you take it out of the oven. The one on the left has settled and the one on the right is agitated. I agitated it myself. It’s what I do. Just ask my wife.
This is what they look like when they’re back down to room temp. You need to agitate them at just the right time so everything stays in solution. If you screw up just heat it enough to melt it and start over. Don’t stand there shaking them all of the time it is a waste of time. I try to leave them a good distance apart and check them every fifteen minutes or so. When they’re getting close to room temp I stay on that task until they’re stable and quit precipitating. This is one of those jobs where it’s easier to build up of a bunch of butter in the fridge and then have a canning day where you do a whole case. It takes a lot less time that way.
Dehydrating food for long term storage.
Many people like to store prepared meals, but that’s something I’ve learned to avoid. You might have one component in your meal that decides to go off and that ruins the whole thing, I prefer to dehydrate and store ingredients. That means you will have a lot more options in the long run. That way if something goes off and is no longer useable you can replace it or just get by.
Here are a few tips regarding storing food long term.
DIY cheap method.-If you get mylar food storage bags you and fill them with dehydrated food and purge them with CO2. To purge with CO2 all you do is buy dry ice put it in a quart jar. The quart jar needs a hole in the lid and a piece of aerator tubing sealed onto it using aquarium cement. Take the other end of the tube and put it into your bag at the bottom and stuff your food into it. After a while place a match near the opening to see if it goes out because of a lack of oxygen. Once that happens use an iron to seal it shut. Then toss the bag that you dated and identified with its contents because you’re not stupid into a five gallon bucket and repeat. If you get the white food grade buckets with real seals on them you can just put everything into the bucket and purge it. Just remember when you open it the shelf life clock starts ticking faster.
DIY slightly more expensive method.- You can do everything I described above only use desiccant and oxygen absorbers. The main drawback I’ve seen to this is that they come in bags full of them and you better use them up quickly or they will already be used up by the time you put them in the bag. One way around that would be to get small mylar bags ready and break the mass of absorbers out into manageable sized groups of say ten or twenty absorbers and seal them up like that. That will allow you the time to work with them and not waste them. Here is a link to search for them. It’s a link on Bing because I can’t stand Google anymore. I also have a strong dislike for Bezos so I will be ordering the bags and having them sent to my Walmart where I can pick those and the absorbers up. (Yes I am buying from one modern robber baron to shun the other.) Make sure you also look up which size you really need. I posted a search link rather than attach to a page that might be gone by the time you read any of this. Here it is. https://www.bing.com/search?q=oxygen+absorbers+for+food+storage+&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=oxygen+absorbers+for+food+storage+&sc=8-34&sk=&cvid=BC99C1F505C4427BB81A42E0D68F87F5
After getting all of the above together all you have to do is find a temperature stable place to store everything. Basements are a good thing unless you live where we do. Here root cellars have to be above ground.
When dehydrating remember that when you’re done, a five pound bag of frozen vegetables will usually fit in a one quart jar. Have something ready to store it in when you’re done so it doesn’t get ruined. I usually dump everything into a large Ziploc bag when it’s nice and warm and put it in a cool place. Come back a little later and see if there is condensation inside the bag. If there is you’re not done…back to the dehydrator. I seal a full load in a large bag and let it equalize the moisture content within the batch over night. Then I give it a bit more time in the dehydrator the next day. I always try to rotate the trays from top to bottom and mix everything up at the same time. You get even drying and taste at the same time.
Here are some of the items I’ve dehydrated.
Dry beans can be stored in their uncooked form or they can be cooked. If they’ve been cooked they’re no longer toxic. Toxic? Yes! I said toxic. Some uncooked beans can get you very sick. This picture of dry beans is pinto beans on the left and lima beans on the right. The rehydrated cooked beans are pretty easy to work with. You can whip up a batch of refried beans in short order with a little planning. You can also can them using a pressure canner.
Potatoes can be cut into small cubes and steamed before dehydrating. You have to get the peel off or the taste is beyond horrible. They also have to be cooked or they’ll be black when they dry. I cut them into ¼” to ½” cubes and in some instances where they’ll be used soon I put two bell peppers and one onion for every five pounds. I do the onions and peppers on trays separate from the potatoes because of different drying times. I add them to the mix after they’re finished. I’ve reached a point where I just dehydrate potatoes unless I’m going to use them quickly. They can’t turn green and become toxic if they’re cooked and dehydrated. These small cubes with very pointy corners, which I call tatertrops can also be powdered in a blender for mashed potatoes if you like. If you wonder why I call them tatertrops just step on one with your bare feet one of these days. They feel a lot like a caltrop.
Sweet potatoes are processed different from regular potatoes. Some prefer to cook them in an oven and slide the skin off before cutting them up. I leave the skin on, dice, slice and dehydrate them without cooking. This picture is of a forty pound box that now inhabits the space inside two and one half gallon bags.
Green beans I toss into boiling water and blanch for two minutes after the water starts boiling again. Take them out and stick them in cold water to stop them from cooking any further and then cut them into one or two inch long pieces. Then I dehydrate them. I have tried leaving them whole and dehydrating them and discovered they seem to give me a better product once cooked. They are a bit of a pain to pack into a bag, but they seem to be better. Some people can hang them up to dry on strings. I can only do that when it’s not cloudy out and it usually is here. I tried blanching stringing and hanging and had mush on a string the next day. I use a dehydrator now.
Squash I cut into ¼” thick slices and dehydrate them. This is some of the zucchini I did this year. Pretty simple actually. You can do the same thing with pumpkins and just about any squash. I’ve seen where certain people who refuse to use technology have even taken pumpkins and cut them into spirals and hung them out to dry. I don’t have the time to develop that level of skill.
This is the tomato juice cooking down.
This is the cooked down juice in the dehydrator.
This is the dehydrating tomato puree the next day.
All of it is crammed into one storage container for at least 24 hours so the moisture can equalize throughout.
Once they’re looking like this I store them in sealed quart jars covered in olive oil.
Tomatoes are pureed strained and cooked down into a paste and that takes a while by the way. Once it’s as thick as or a little thicker than tomato paste I make one table spoon balls and dehydrate them a bit further before storing them in olive oil in quart jars. I can fit a bushel of Roma tomatoes into three quart jars and cover them with olive oil. You can also cut a prepared Roma into halves or quarters for later use on pizzas in pastas and stews. What I meant by prepared was with the skin removed. If you don’t remove the skin hydration and dehydration take a lot of extra time and energy. I know two efficient ways to remove the skins. If you’re waiting for all of them to ripen as so often happens when you pick and or grow your own just stick them in the freezer once they’re ripe. As soon as you have enough ripe tomatoes toss them in warm water and as they thaw the skins slide right off. If you have a bunch of them that are ripe and are ready to process all of them you can toss them in boiling water until you see the skins loosen and remove them to a sink with cold water to cool so you can remove the skins without also cooking your fingers.
Peppers and onions
Peppers and onions are dehydrated raw. If you’re doing a large batch of onions wear a gas mask or do it outside. I tend to do them in large quantities. Jalapenos once red are called Fresno peppers. I dehydrate them, remove the seeds and then smoke them. After that I run them through a blender and a sieve. Then I store them in jars. At that point they’ve become chipotle. Paprika can be made the same way using sweet and hot red peppers of about any sort depending on the amount of heat you want in them.
Okra can just be strung up by their stems without blanching. I usually only dry the one and a half to two inch pieces and leave the stem long so I can get the needle and thread through. This picture is of what was once 1 ¼ gallons or so of okra.
I often dry mixes out of the freezer section of the store. I’ve done the mixes with peas, carrots and corn. I’ve also done French cut green beans. All of them are perfect for soups.
Fruits are a little different. Most of them need to be either cooked or dipped in citric acid. It is also called ascorbic acid and you can get it in bulk jars. Don’t buy the small jars it costs too much and doesn’t go that far. Lemon juice can be used in place of it. Ascorbic acid is something you’ll probably want if you ever get into making sausages. Here is a link that will show you what you need to dip in ascorbic acid. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_dry_fruit.pdf This link also has a chart that tells you how much dry goes with water for rehydration and they give you times. Print it out instead of searching for it every time you need to know something. Google doesn’t like to share a simple fact and that is that a search uses as much energy as it takes to fix a cup of coffee. Print it out and save coffee cups or two of energy or something like that. (I’m virtue signaling to the SJWs. What’s life without comedy right? Court jesters abound these days!) You might also aid in putting a few data Nazis out of work by not feeding the google machine. Also don’t assume the internet will always be there for you.
If you have some of the more interesting fruit such as persimmons you can always dry them the way they do in Asia. I love doing this. http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/11/how-to-make-hoshigaki-dried-persimmons/ I put a bunch of these that I chopped up into a fruit cake. Fruit cakes that you by in the store are pathetic. Home made are amazing and have been kept and aged for years at a time. Here’s the recipe that I like to use. https://www.groundreport.com/Decedent-Christmas-Fruit-Cake-With-Brandy-Sauce/
And since I’m on the topic of fruit cakes and that means candied citrus peel etc. Don’t forget to peel and dehydrate the zest off of your citrus for powders in cooking. You can also candy your citrus peels. http://magicskillet.com/recipe/candied-orange-peel/
Also do this if you have a few citrus fruits going bad. You can juice them and can the juice for later use in a water bath canner.
Fermenting fruits, herbs and vegetables.
I will begin up front with a few links to fermenting sites. I will then show some of what I’ve been doing.
Fermenting herbs to save the flavor for later. https://joybileefarm.com/2-ways-fermented-fresh-herbs/
Here is a link to the facebook group Fermenters kitchen. https://www.facebook.com/groups/fermenterskitchen/ <-They get into fermenting just about everything. You will also find brine charts in there to help you along your way. Remember that the purpose of the brine isn’t to make the food salty it is to fend off the bad bacteria so that the good bacteria can get ahead of the game making it so you don’t need to buy vinegar.
The pictures are of soy sauce I made in 2014 on the right side of the case and then canned this year 2017 on the left, soy sauce in the press and then in the bucket. In the dehydrator are the leftovers from the soy sauce. In the next picture is the rice vinegar and the Korean pepper paste I made. Then I have a picture of three sweet misos I made.
Here is a link to the Miso group. This involves the making of sake, miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar and many other things. https://www.facebook.com/groups/589019234559808/?ref=br_rs
Here’s one of the people from the handcrafted larder. He has a great page. The link here takes you to his fermented dill pickle recipe. I had to hit him up for a little info. My three gallons turned to mush on me. It was a rough year. One death in the family, two hurricanes and a lot of other things. Here’s his link. https://timsfoodobsession.com/2017/08/19/crock-fermented-garlic-dill-pickles/
Mixes you can make in advance, ferment and cook with later are, sofrito, curtido, sauerkraut and kimchi. You could even ferment the ingredients for borscht and cook them in the middle of the winter if you wanted to. The point is that you can get just about any flavors you want, but you better learn it now and pass it on while you can. If you’re wondering about shelf life…Captain Cook sailed all over the Pacific with casks of sauerkraut in his ship. He sailed for several years and gave some away to I think it was Austrian officials as he passed by on the way home. They liked it and started making their own. I don’t know if that is mentioned in this link. Oh and that Sir Richard Hawkins mentioned in here. Yup he’s in the old family tree. Here’s a link on sauerkraut saving the world to read. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/captaincook_scurvy_01.shtml
This is a batch of sauerkraut I made about nine months ago. My mix is one bell pepper and one half of an onion per cabbage. I will get into recipes a little later, but as a primer; a lot of people hate sauerkraut because it’s just too sour. I use a Bavarian recipe that has black pepper, white wine, sugar and caraway seeds in it. Takes the sour right out of it. I also make caramelized pork and use some of the left over sauce along with the meat to create an awesome sweet and sour pork recipe. Here is an entire page dedicated to sauerkraut recipes. I’ve tried a bunch of them. http://www.sauerkrautrecipes.com/
I hope this helps you on your way. Be careful and do it right though. It’s all easy, but it takes a bit of effort.