28 July 2009

Outdoor Food Drying in Virginia

Hello beloved readers. Did you think I'd been crushed by a rabid zucchini?

The snap test indicated "not rabid" but those squashes do come on strong. Maybe five plants was a bit much? We had intended upon drying most of the surplus for use in winter soups and stews but we've run into a small problem known as "fog" and a larger problem called "rain" which sent our initial experiment of outdoor air drying into Boldy Moldy Land. At least it will feed the compost pile.

We have the greenhouse, which gets nice and hot this time of year, but it, too, has a little moisture problem when it rains. After much moving of clods previously known as "The Lawn" to the east side of the greenhouse to create a living sponge barrier, digging a trench to further divert runoff from the slope, and adding a whole lot of daylilies, red hot pokers, and a red Mystery Monocot we're almost ready to roll. (Or string, I suppose!)

Only problem now is to defeat the water that comes in the door. This might require adding a roof panel under the deck but I'm not sure. It's my next move and I do hope to God it works because otherwise I might give in and buy an electric dehydrator.

Until the moisture issue is resolved, the zukes and patty pans are keeping well on the counter for a week until we can eat them or give them to our few friends without gardens. We have an especially enthisiastic chiropractor "from the city" and a nurse neighbor who are happy to have them. (Thanks!)

Giant zuke, anyone?


Lynne said...

zucchini bread freezes nicely and makes a great gift

zucchini stuffed with a hamburger mixture and baked in broth freezes remarkably well for cold winter thaws

the moisture content can be a problem for other long term storage issues

Mrs. Fuzzy said...

Thanks, Lynne. I tried making stuffed zukes and the 3 week freezer test left them mushy. Do I have to cook them before freezing? Will try!

Lynne said...

Yes cook it up as a meat/rice stuffed baked in broth casserole first, then portion it up and freeze. That extra moisture in raw zucchini crystallizes so you have to cook before you freeze. Another recipe is a blond broth with zucchini, over couscous, portion up and freeze.

If you had meat, I'd wax about clothesline dried lamb. When I lived in North Africa and food was scarce, we learned all these tricks to make it through the winter months. Have fun. Lynne