Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mid Summer in the garden - Holy Zucchini!!

It is hot here in the Pacific Northwest, and for those of us more inland and outside of the marine layer, HOT!  Maybe not Eastern WA Hot, but Hot all the same.  With increased temps, things are also heating up in the garden.  Zucchini for instance is in its prime right now.  We have four large zukes and while I am almost laughing and waiting for National sneak a zucchini onto your neighbors porch day (August 8th if you didn't know), I think I may have one solution.   Dehydrating large slices for winter Lasagna.

Three of the zucchini I dehydrated, the fourth was cut into pieces to be grilled.

I can almost see your wheels turning!   Why didn't you think to try that? Or maybe you have and still have a jar of zuke noodles in a cupboard and your are laughing cause I just thought about this.

This summer I have been freezing, canning and dehydrating so much of our garden bounty and some local fruit from Washington farms.  My goal of course is to create enough supply that we could have one meal a week from our garden over the course of the winter / fall season.  That may not happen this season (5 raised beds, 3 which are in their first season), but it's nice to dream, right? 

Dehydrating is a no brainer when you have a good dehydrator.  Mine has multiple racks, and has programmable heat and time settings.  My method is to take the ripest and freshest item, wash and cut into same sized pieces, lay them out on sheets and set to a certain temp for a certain amount of hours.  While some folks may not feel comfortable tackling a new project, I love to learn by trial and error (don't ask about the very first batch of apricots).  There is only so much you can learn via a book! Don't use bruised fruit.   Bruises do not dehydrate well as the fibers are already decomposing.   A small spot can be cut out, but if large, toss it into the compost pile.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll sit and write all these bits and pieces of information down and pass down to the next generation!

One thing to mention before I forget.  You do not want to use the middle spongy part.  So if your zucchini has become mammoth, you will want to cut these in half, then scoop out the seeds and sponge before cutting off strips to dehydrate.  Another option is to cant it out and take slices from each side until you reach the sponge.  Either method works.  The spongey parts are great for either chickens, pigs, goats, etc!

Tools used to portion out the zukes are a cheese slicer (wire or metal), mandoline (if the zuke isn't that big), or just a sharp chef's knife. I tried each of these and  found that if I cant out the zuke, my cheese slicer works great!!

Once they are all sliced, I found that it is not needed to treat these slices.  They are perfectly fine on their own and do not require a lemon juice / water bath. 

My settings were 133 degrees for 6 hours.  I did do one turn halfway thru to make sure they did not stick to the sheets.  All but the the ones with too much skin were perfectly done at 6 hours. 

I will be storing mine in glass jars, and can't wait to post about winter lasagna.   Because these dried out so much, I may not even have a zucchini to leave on my neighbors porch on August 8th!

Jarred up dried  Zucchini slices. Some have the texture of the dehydrator sheets.

No comments:

Post a Comment