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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Storing up for the winter

The wind shifted direction. The dark is creeping in slowly and I don't have much time after I get off work to go outside and get some things done. The summer time in Ohio is great for both weather and the stretching of the daylight.

So like the slowing squirrels scavenging in the lawns, I am trying to put back enough to keep me fed and busy for the winter.

The first thing is, I got out the dehydrator. 

The joy and burden of gardening in season, is the bounty all at once during the growing season, and then the months and months of freezing cold when nothing is growing.
So after CSA finished up, I started packing the dehydrator with everything that came from the gardens. I've been focusing a lot on herbs for tea, salad dressings, soup mixes, and spice blends. I have kale rough chopped and in there too. Jason worked up the best paprika ever by dehydrating a bunch of red peppers and then grinding them up really fine. I had no idea how many peppers it took to make a pinch of paprika!
While I like almost anything that we are drying, I'm most excited when the whole house smells like tea herbs.
While I love freezing, fresh veggies full of water take up a lot of space and use energy. Dehydrating maintains their vitamins while making them easier to store. And bonus when soup season comes around as the flavor punch that dried herbs and veggies adds is a whole new dimension to your favorite recipes.
So out from the dehydrator come these great ingredients straight from the garden. I have been putting them in deli containers and labeling them so I know what ingredients I have from our gardens for our spice and tea blends.
While I love it for cooking, stripping thyme off the stems is incredibly time consuming. Perhaps that's where it gets it's name?
My mountain of deli containers is growing and spreading into mason jars, gallon freezer bags, and whatever else I can store things in and label.
Once the garden is put to bed, the greenhouse should be coming into production with our cool weather crops so I will have fresh things to try all throughout winter.
And certainly nothing warms up a dark winter evening quite like friends, a cuddly dog or cat, and a hot cup of homegrown tea.
The pineapple sage and lemongrass is ready to come out of the dehydrator and stored. Back to the garden for another round. Next up, harvesting oregano to combine with dried meyer lemons, garlic, and shallots for a nice greek salad dressing. Can't wait for recipe perfecting on that so I can share it with all of you!