Rosey the Riveter

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Homemade Citrus Extract and Dehydrated Citrus Powder

It's the baking time of year.  As soon as fall weather arrives, soon followed by Thanksgiving and then Christmas, it's time to put on the aprons and break out the mixers.  It's also citrus season, which means it's a great time to make some homemade versions of baking ingredients.

Citrus Extract is great for flavoring icings, and I love ground citrus powder in muffins, cookies, breads, tea... you name it.  So, when I can find organic lemons and oranges (which isn't always easy), I always buy them.  With very little effort, you can add some tasty tools to your baking arsenal.

Homemade Citrus Extract

Peel an organic orange (or lemon, depending on which flavor you want!) and remove as much of the white pith as you can.  Slice very thin, and place into a jar.  Cover with Vodka and let it sit.  Strain after 6 weeks (or, um, a year...)

Homemade Citrus Powder

Peel some organic oranges (or lemons) and remove as much of the white pith as you can.  Slice and dehydrate.  When thoroughly dried, grind in a coffee grinder.  If you are using it for icing, I'd do a very fine powder... for baked goods, you can leave some larger pieces.  I use this in place of citrus zest in recipes if I don't have fresh fruit on hand to zest.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dried Cranberries

Many people who are new to dehydrating assume that they can pop whole cranberries in their dehydrator and get 'craisins' out of the deal.  You know what they say about assuming!  The truth is, craisins are loaded in sugar...
1/3 of a cup of processed craisins contains 123 calories, while 1/3 of a cup of home-dehydrated cranberries contains only about 42 calories (by my calculations... I dehydrated 7 bags at 180 calories per bag and got 10 cups of dried berries, which yields 126 calories/cup) It's the added sugar that helps keep the texture of craisins more like raisins.
Dehydrating cranberries at home, sans sugar, results in bits of crispy, crunchy, sour goodness that are fantastic in muffins, scones, breads, etc.  If you click on the picture above, you might be able to see there's quite a difference between the craisins on the left and the home-dried cranberries on the right.

The process is quite simple.  Rinse your cranberries in a colander and pick out any remaining stems you can see.  Working in batches, give the berries a few whirls in the food processor, which will break them up and make them dry much faster.  Spread them out, in as close to a single layer as possible, on your tray.  I use the fruit-roll liner on top of the plastic tray just because it presents little bits from falling through once they are dried.
If you have a temperature control on your dehydrator, set it to 135 and let it go... when the berries are crispy, they are thoroughly dried.  Be sure to remove any whole/mostly whole cranberries that didn't dry, as they could cause mold.  Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.

Use in any recipe calling for dried cranberries.  There's no need to rehydrate them beforehand.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh, My!

I knew I was behind in blogging, I just had no clue HOW behind!  Lots going on between now and last I posted, 6 weeks ago!  I have continued to post over at Mother Earth News and you can see all of my blogs HERE.

The annual dessert auction to raise funds for needy Seabee families and to decorate the children's ward at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital came and went.
My basket of jams and jellies 'only' raised $75...  last year it went for over $200.
But the basket of 'DIY Dessert' items, including homemade vanilla, our own eggs, and maple syrup from my brother's farm in NH went for $125, so that was great!

Our Autumn Larder Swap had us trading up a storm.  My favorite this time around was the Monkey Butter made by my neighbor, Lisa.

Our church had a "Community Service Day" last weekend, and while my husband and youngest daughter were landscaping/raking at her school, my oldest and I sewed bags for kids in the foster system.  It turned out to be more complicated than I thought (serger?  I don't know how to do that!), but after fighting with my machine, Abby got to at least sew a few seams and get the feel for things. 
The next day, she made some napkins for her school lunches.  I had started the project awhile ago but had a few more to finish, so she sewed them up like a pro and was quite proud of herself!

I've been experimenting with using the Stevia that I grew, dried, and ground.  My first attempt at homemade sugar-free chocolate pudding was a disaster, but I'm determined to figure it out!

And, I am in seed heaven, because the new catalogs have started to come in.  The first one was from Baker Creek, and is a much bigger version than their normal one.  It's on sale at bookstores, so you can run out and get one if you'd like.
Yesterday's mail brought a catalog from "High Mowing Seeds" which is out of VT.  Highly recommend it for those in New England, as if the seeds do well in VT, they will probably do well anywhere near there.  It's for that same reason that I prefer to use Southern Exposure Seeds here in VA.  Unfortunately, that catalog hasn't yet come, but I did get to buy most of what I want from them at the Heritage Harvest Festival.

I guess that's it in a nutshell.  I'll have more posts soon, I promise!