Don’t Be A Jerk-y

August 13, 2012

While we clearly have a summer preservation plan for fruits and veggies, but we also have another agenda in mind. Our fifth anniversary passed by at the beginning of the month, and we decided to mark the occasion by taking a trip. It’s our typical tradition to go camping over our anniversary. Looking for something special, we turned toward my childhood and decided to plan a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which is a huge expanse of lakes in the northern part of Minnesota that extends up in to Canada. I’ve been lucky enough to go twice as a child.

 

 

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The BWCA is a very special place to me and I’m nothing less than thrilled that we have made it happen. Some number of years ago Katie and I bit the bullet and bought most of the equipment we needed for camping. Thinking ahead, most of the equipment we bought is appropriate for backpacking (read: LIGHT).

So this works perfectly for this type of trip, which also happens to be our first backpacking trip together.

Anyhoo, I’m generally disappointed by the quality and price of pre-packaged meals, so we have dehydrated a lot of produce to make soup mixes and such.

Photo (left to right): Peaches, apples, strawberries, jerkey, front carrots and celery.

One of the hardest things about backpacking I think is that it is hard to incorporate protein. One of the more interesting ways of doing that is by making jerky! I love all kinds of jerky but beef is the most economical, so that’s what we chose today.

Jerky is pretty easy, all things considered. You make a marinate, soak your meat, slice it up (or not), and dry it. Our marinade included soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, garlic, and cayanne pepper. We let the meat, cut in to strips, marinade for about six hours and then put it in the dehydrator overnight.

 

 

We’ve actually made jerky on a couple occasions and we haven’t quite got the timing right yet. Left overnight it tends to go a little on the long side and while good, is a little tougher than necessary. You’ll have to play around with it and see what works based upon your meat size. Our pieces were pretty small which probably contributed to the cook time issue.

I have no doubt that we will post more about this trip as we close in on it (early September). For now after eight hours of packing food, we’ve got a start, albiet small, in our packing.

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Peachy Keen

August 7, 2012

Peaches are WAY up there on the list of awesomest fruit. But I constantly struggle with feeling like they are only “in season” at the grocery store for about 45 minutes, and that by the time I am done unpacking the groceries to put everything away, they’re wrinkly-mush-balls.

Still, we’re making an effort, and at least 15% of our peaches are ripe when we process them. Most of the peaches we’ve handled so far we have sliced up, placed in a simple syrup and a chunk of vanilla bean, and canned (probably another post coming to a blog near you). We had a few chunks left over so we tossed them in the dehydrator because why not, and they are EFFING FANTASTIC. They hold their flavor so well they are just absolutely yummy.

So we dehydrated a bunch of peaches just for funsies because I definitely want more of those around.

We went with fairly thin slices (.25 inch) for the dried peaches, and slightly larger (.5 inch) for the canned peaches. Also, if you are doing both at the same time, I’d can the peaches that are the least ripe. They will be flavored some by the syrup as well as the other peaches, and the sugar will help pull juice and flavor out. For drying, what you put in is what you get out, so the ripest ones are the best.

Chopping up peaches…it’s the pits! (ha ha…oh fine. It wasn’t funny).

I will say that even slices will help you maximize your dehydrator space. The very even rows *really* appeal to my neurotic side.

Next to come will likely be the saga about all the insane amounts of canning and drying we are doing. It might even include a sneak peak of our upcoming adventure that will put our skills to the test. Stay tuned!