Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Change in Pace - The Harvest

Today in the News - We've consistently had over 100 hits per day all of this week.  Thanks for stopping by!  If you like what you're reading and you want to keep it coming, feel free to write a guest article and send it to me (  I don't know much......even with what I'm writing about, and I would welcome some expertise in the area.  Doesn't have to be about axes, as you can see today.  Anything bushcraft related or old-timey.  I welcome comments and discussion in the comment section below the article.  Please, just keep it light and polite.  If I missed an important fact about anything I'm writing about - please jump in and help out.

Cool Link of the Day -  - Jack Mountain Bushcraft - Tim Smith runs a bushcraft school in the wilds of Northern Maine (being from there, I can tell you that most of it is still very undeveloped).  Tim has great writings on his website and from what I understand, he has great classes as well at his bushcraft school.  It is wonderful to see someone using the lands of Northern Maine for its intended use.  He also has a blog called "The Moose Dung Gazette" and many helpful and entertaining videos.  I don't personally know Tim, but everything I've heard about his school and teachings is top notch.


I know, I know, it isn't an axe column today.  Don't worry.  I'm not abandoning the blade, I'm working on and documenting projects and they just aren't finished yet.

Dehydrating Zucchini

Here on the Happy-Half Acre, not much grows well. We're at 8,600 feet about sea level and as well as a lack of oxygen, we have a severe lack of good soil. I put horse manure on the garden yearly and supplement with some composting. This year was a good turn out for zucchini. It is one of the few things that grows at this elevation fairly well.

My wife's grandmother grew up in the desert. They never let it stop them from growing fantastic gardens. Her husband, Mrs. Hotel's grandfather, converted his entire back yard into a garden in the middle of Phoenix, Arizona and the vegetables were always abundant. Does Grandma can the vegetables? No. She dehydrates. While I have had the usual dehydrated fruits and whatnot, I hadn't ever had dehydrated vegetables. It is very little work to dehydrate things. More time than anything - and that time is spent letting it sit in the rack.

We have a dehydrator from Harbor Freight. While I wouldn't suggest every tool from Harbor Freight for long-term use, this dehydrator seems to hold up. We've had three dehydrators and the first two were junk and broke within a short time. Harbor Freight has changed their design and this one has less moving parts which, in my opinion is a good thing.

So we start with zucchini.  Pick them fresh.  Make sure they are not rotten in any way or bug infested.  Wash them well.  I start with dish soap, rinse with vinegar, then water.  Then, slice them thin.

You want them thin, but not too thin.  The point is that you want the moisture to leave the vegetable.  If you slice them too fat, the moisture doesn't leave as quickly as it should. If you slice them too thinly, they'll dry into dust and be hard to get off of the tray.

Make sure the dehydrator rack is clean and place them on the tray.  Leave a smidgen of distance between them, if possible.

Keep cutting and stack the trays.

Now put it on the dehydrator.

Plug it in and let them sit 12-24 hours, depending on where you live.

The result:

Dry and crunchy -

We like to store ours in glass jars.  If you have an O2 absorber, throw that in as well.  It should keep longer that way.

Several things to note:

- Dehydrated foods keep their vitamins and nutrients better than canned food.  This is because you aren't cooking the food twice. 

 - I have no idea how long these will keep.  I heard that if you keep them at a steady, cool temperature, not exposed to light or air, they will hold for a very long time.

- We use these in soups and stews.  Just throw them in and they rehydrate by sucking up the water in the pot.

- If you want a yummy treat, put sea salt and cracked pepper on before dehydrating - YUM.

That's all for now.  Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel - out.


  1. I've been hoping to find a dehydrator at a garage sale, soon. My persimmon tree is bursting and I promised myself this time last year that I would have a dehydrator by this harvest.

    What was the brand of the two dehydrators that failed you? Would be good to know.

    And I didn't think of dehydrating zucchini! Nice!

  2. Actually, all three were from Harbor Freight ($25.00). The first two rotated while they dried, and in turn, died an early death. This one has no moving parts, just a heating coil - and it works great!

  3. Looking good, Mike. I've been thinking about dehydrating as well. Think it's time to finally get a dehydrator and get to work!

  4. Thanks, that's good to know about the rotating parts. Just like cars, huh? The more gadgets they have, the quicker they fall. Ugh.