Monday, March 27, 2006

Ketchup Candy

I woke up this morning with thoughts of auction sales and canning jars and the likely budget battle over whether we need a pressure cooker.

Then, disappointed by the morning blog fare, I went browsing back through old comments at Eleutheros' place, and found this praise for dehydrated food:
A bushel of tomatoes fits into two quart mason jars and the taste is much more like fresh tomatoes than canned or frozen. The children call them 'ketchup candy'.
Since we live in one of the sunniest parts of the world, I Googled "solar dehydrator." I learned that dehydrated food is much more nutritious than canned, and found everything from simple small dehydrators made from cardboard boxes, plastic film, and tape, to elaborate manufactured models.

Path to Freedom has a collection of links about food dehydration, including plans for several different types and sizes of dehydrators.

This solar chimney dehydrator looks promising. It's not much different from the small cardboard box model, except that it has a tall cabinet behind the collector panel, with vents strategically placed to draw the air through all the trays of food. I'm thinking I might try the small cardboard box model first just to get a feel for the process.


Madcap said...

I've been doing a little investigating myself, and it would seem that

1. There's a lot of sun and wind in southern Saskatchewan.

2. Real estate is very much more affordable than in Alberta.

3. Due to that extra sun, you have a bit more leeway in what your gardens will produce.

Saskatchewan is on our list of places to consider!

My son saw a homemade dehydrator that he'd like to try making, in a kids' science book. It seems easy enough.

Oh, and here's another weekend tidbit. I was reading Gene Logsdon's Invitation to Gardening, and there was a bit in there about setting a piece of tin-foil covered cardboard behind windowsill seedlings, tilted to reflect the light down at them. He recommended it to encourage sturdy growth rather than long, leggy plants. I thought of you when I read that.

arcolaura said...

Saskatchewan on your list - oooh, I hadn't dared hope! I may do some nosing about, see what might be available around the edges of town - or in the beautiful Moose Mountains. That would likely suit you much better, but I might be a bit selfish. I haven't forgotten about that shared cow... Hmmm. The village of Forget might be worth a look (see the Ananda link in my sidebar). Tiny and quiet, and home to an annual arts festival. I could almost be persuaded to move there.

Thanks for the tinfoil tip!

arcolaura said...

Er, umm, MCM, I wasn't even looking for this, honest, but I stumbled on a real estate listing for farmland adjacent to Arcola.

Here's the listing. I'll try to resist posting flattering pictures, etc., etc.,...

Madcap said...

Actually, I'd already seen that one, as well as the big old 4-bedroom house that's for sale right in town. We're hoping to find land and a house together, and since we're not moving right away, we have time to keep looking.

What I want to know is - are there trees? I need some bush! The Town of Arcola website makes everything look so barren!

arcolaura said...

Mmm, yes, there are trees. Lots of trees. Most of the streets are lined with trees, and yards have plenty of shade trees and hedges as well. Some are elms (probably doomed), but many are Manitoba maples or ash, and there are lots of caraganas and lilacs. Some poplars, spruces, etc. I'll try and get you some pictures.

As for bush, that's in the hills. My parents' place (five miles north of town) is rolling parkland - grassy ridges and shrubby or wooded ravines and north slopes. Farther back in the hills, there's continuous forest, mostly aspen with some birch.

But it's an "island forest" - and the climate change models I've seen are saying it will die back and perhaps disappear, unless we turn to controversial and wildly expensive "salvage ecology" and plant tree species from farther southwest to replace it.

Outside of the hills and the towns, this certainly can be a wide-open, empty-seeming landscape. Fabulous sunsets and stars, though. And I personally find it very soothing to gaze off towards a far horizon.