Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Saving the Harvest

On a grey day like this morning, I'm reminded that dreary days in fall and winter won't be far behind.  It gives me extra incentive to put up what I can for those cold months when growing anything that won't fit on a windowsill is impossible.  So the dehydrator is humming in the background this morning as I type.  I've sliced tomatoes thinly, and they will keep forever if they dry thoroughly.  I love to put them on homemade pizza or in pasta salad.  I love them so much, but I'll probably sacrifice a few to sell a the stand.  We are most likely done having fresh tomatoes for sale, the blight has pretty much wiped out our plants.  It seemed so sad to me, the bucket full of blighted tomatoes filled up so much quicker than the one for the useable/sellable tomatoes.  Dan told me not to get down, however, because many, many people got no tomatoes at all.  And our pigs love to eat the less than perfect vegetables, so they weren't going to waste.  Still, I love to make my own sauces- spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili sauce- and that isn't going to happen this year unless I buy tomatoes from somewhere else.  So it was hard to feel lucky just then.    

 With temperatures reaching down into the 40's, it's time to start planning for the first frost too.  So I dry herbs or freeze them depending on my plans for them.  The ones that are best fresh I'll try to keep on the window sill during the winter, but I dry a lot of sage for one of our sausage recipes.  I've also been saving seed to sell, give away or use myself.  I have chive and parsley seed already, I'm sure dill isn't far off either.  I also have lots of  cilantro seed, which is the spice coriander if you crush it in a pepper mill.

Our corn has done pretty well, except the raccoons (or possibly the black bear that's been sighted in the neighborhood) found the ripe sweet corn the night before market.  They seem to have an uncanny ability to sense when the corn is at the peak of flavor, and then it's hard to keep them out.  Luckily we had plenty, and what is left over I'm going to freeze.  Last year I bought a vaccuum sealer and tried freezing corn on the cob.  It was the most amazing treat duing the long winter, like a little taste of summer.  Of course, it loses a little texture, but  we were happy with it and plan to do a lot more in the next few days for this coming winter.  I always freeze bags of whole corn as well, it's great to have on hand when making chili or winter soups, or just by itself!

  

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Comments:

Hello !
I was curious as to what type of dehydrator you use. We have been looking for one.
Thanks!
Mona

Posted by Mona on September 08, 2009 at 12:42 PM EDT #

For anyone who is interested, we use an Excalibur dehydrator. It was purchased from Cabella's outdoor catalog. It has heat settings for drying everything from herbs to jerky. The only downside is that it is smaller than what I want for farm use, as it has only 4 trays, each about a foot square. And it can't be set for more than one heat setting; I can't dry tomatoes AND herbs at the same time, for instance. But overall, it's very easy to use, easy to clean and I would recommend it to anyone looking for one for home use.

Posted by Emily on September 08, 2009 at 01:33 PM EDT #

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