Monthly Archives: October 2012

Dried Minced Onions

I’m not really an “onion person”.  I mean, I’ll eat them if they’re cooked in butter and nicely concealed in whatever dish they’re a part of, or if they’re deep fried or of the bloomin’ variety… ok, maybe I am an onion person after all!  I just don’t really care to eat them raw.  I’m not a huge fan of cutting them up, either.  But onions do add a little somethin’ somethin’ to most dishes, and so they remain a staple in my kitchen.

Recently, I happened upon a recipe on Pinterest that sparked my interest.  Remember when I made the condensed cream of chicken soup?  Well it’s good and all, and fairly easy to make, but anything frozen that has to be thawed isn’t really all that convenient for this meal-planning procrastinator.  And then the Heavens opened, a ray of light shone down on my computer screen, and angels began to sing!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  An easier way!  (Is any this blasphemous?  Forgive me, Lord…I only meant to spread chuckles!)

What I’m saying is, I’m all over this idea.  Cream of “Something” soup MIX, that you can keep in your pantry and substitute canned condensed versions when called for in recipes.  It’s too cool.  WAY cooler than this post about dried onions. 🙂

I digress.  Anyway, this super cool Cream of Something mix called for dried minced onions.  I had no dried minced onions, but I did have a big bag of non-dried, non-minced, actual onions.  The synapses fired in my brain and I recalled a dehydrator that I own (well, technically I don’t OWN it, but since the owner seems to have forgotten it’s existence…), put two and two together and the rest is history.  Herstory.  Mystory.

I’ve had a lot of coffee today.

 
Dried Minced Onions

What you will need:

  • About 8 medium onions, yellow or white
  • a Dehydrator (you could do this in your oven if your oven will go low enough, 135 degrees)
  • a Food Processor
  • Goggles, face mask, contact lenses, a strong fan, willpower to live
  • some unfinished hobbies or small children to busy yourself with while these are drying

Directions:

  1. Peel onions and slice them into 1/4 inch slices.  This where the goggles et. al. would come in handy.  My kitchen got so unbearable with onion fumes that even my poor husband who was innocently trying to do dishes teared up.  It was bad.  We had to get a fan out, and I was practically sobbing by the time I finished slicing.
  2. Place the slices on the dehydrator trays and turn it on the fruit and vegetable setting, 135*!  You don’t need to separate the rings, unless you have the space to do so.  They might dry quicker if you separate them.
  3. I had to move the dehydrator from the kitchen out to the back porch because of how much it was stinking up the house!  After several hours the back porch started smelling like a burger joint, so that was kind of fun, but initially the fumes were just too strong to bear inside the house. 
  4. The dehydrating book says 8-10 hours for onions.  Well, after 10 hours I wanted to go to bed, and only a pieces were even close to being done.  I removed those pieces, turned the dehydrator down to the lowest setting (95*) and went to bed.  In the morning, they were in the same state as the night before.  So I turned it back up to 135* (fruits and vegetable setting), separated the rings, piling them on top of each other, and it still took about another 10 hours for them to be completely dried.  Phew!
  5. As pieces dried, I removed them from the dehydrator and set them in a bowl to wait for the others.  Once they were all dried, I broke out my food processor and chopped them up.

    When I minced these, it left a huge ridge in my food processor that completely freaked me out! I thought the onions had somehow scratched the bowl of my processor and I was so bummed out! Turns out it was just onion powder that caked up quickly on the sides. A little soaking in hot water; it washed out perfectly clean and all was good in my world again.

  6. After I minced the onions some of the pieces felt a little moist so I poured out the minced pieces on a fruit leather tray and returned the onions to the dehydrator for another half an hour. 
  7. Once they seemed completely dry, I put them in a jar, labeled it with the date and contents, and it’s ready to store or use in a recipe!  It yielded me about a half of a pint jar, so about 1 cup out of the 8 onions.  That was kind of disappointing.  (In the picture below I had already used some of the onions in the cream of something soup mix, which is why there is only 1/4 of the jar left!)

Cream of “Something” Soup! The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of whatever flavor bouillon granules you prefer (hence the “something”). I don’t like to use bouillon granules because I’m a “Better Than Bouillon” girl, (and that stuff has to be refrigerated) so I omitted that part and will use a teaspoon of BTB when I’m mixing it all up.

The Verdict

I paid about $1.50 for a cheap-o bottle of dried minced onions from Wal-mart.  I paid about $3.00 for a bag of organic onions, also from Wal-mart.  The whole bag of onions amounted to about double the bottle of dried onions, which means besides the organic factor, I didn’t really save much money by drying the onions myself.  So, counting the time it took to dry them (30+ hours…hello, electric bill!), the tears I spent slicing the onions, and the fact that I really didn’t save any money…  I highly doubt I will be making these again.  I will say that the flavor of MY dried onions is better, and they smell like French’s Fried Onions (but do NOT taste like them!  Bummer!) but I’m still a little unimpressed with this project.  I have better things to do with my time, like finish projects, or play with my kids, or eat bloomin’ onions. 😉

If you try this, let me know what YOU think!

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Categories: Dehydrating, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Last of the Garden: Potatoes!

I was a little late in harvesting my potatoes this year… I got busy trying to get into a new routine that included beginning homeschool for my preschooler!  I didn’t make it out to the garden for over a week, and in that time the potato vines went from “dying” to “dead”.  It wasn’t a big deal, the potatoes were fine for the most part, although they were beginning to get molested by some sort of bug or fungus.

Potatoes are fun to grow.  Have you ever tried growing them?  I didn’t grow nearly as many as I intended to this year.  I completely forgot to even plant sweet potatoes, and I wish I would have at least doubled the white and red potatoes that I planted.   They are so easy to grow, and require absolutely no attention while they grow besides weeding.  As an added bonus, come harvest, you get to dig in the dirt and search for them!  It’s fun for all ages!

This is the first time I’ve ever “preserved” potatoes.  I know I could have stored them in the basement long term just in a brown paper bag, but for one, I didn’t have that many, and secondly I was a little concerned about some of the potatoes that looked like a bug got to them.  I wasn’t sure if they would store well or rot quickly.  Lastly, I actually purchase sliced canned potatoes (*gasp!*) because my husband makes the most delicious fried potatoes with them.  The canned kind cook up so much tastier than a fresh potato sliced does, too.  So anyway, it made sense to me to slice and can my potatoes instead of storing them in the basement and hoping they last, while still purchasing canned potatoes.  Right?  🙂
This was pretty easy to do…once you get all the potatoes peeled, that is.  But after you get through that, the rest is simple!

Sliced Canned Potatoes

What you will need:

  • Food Processor
  • Colander
  • Stainless Steel Stock Pot
  • Peeled white potatoes (I forgot to weigh mine!  The Ball Book says you’ll need 2-3 lbs per pint if CUBING them.  Eyeballing my pile, it looks like around 6-7lbs, and I got 3 quarts of slices out of that.  Don’t quote me on it though.)
  • Boiling Water

Directions:

  1. After you peel each potato, put it into a stainless steel pot filled with cold water to prevent browning.  Once all the potatoes are peeled, drain them into a colander, rinse them, and fill the pot back up with fresh cold water and put the potatoes back in the water.
  2. Using your food processor with the slicing attachment (or a sharp chef knife and careful fingers!), slice each of the potatoes, putting the slices immediately back into the water to keep them from browning.  Once you have sliced all the potatoes, put the full pot on the stove and begin to heat the water.
  3. Begin heating clean jars in your pressure canner on the stove, and lids in a separate pan.  Fill another pot with water and bring to a boil.  (I actually just used my teapot for easier pouring!)
  4. Heat the sliced potatoes until they are hot through.  You don’t need to boil them.  Just pull one slice out with a tongs and check if it’s hot.  Once they are hot, you are ready to fill the jars.  Drain the potatoes back into a colander, then fill the hot jars.
  5. Fill jars with boiling water to a 1-inch headspace.  Using a plastic tool, slide it between the potato slices and the jar, releasing air bubbles.  Adjust headspace if needed.
  6. Wipe rims and place lids on jars.  Tighten rings, and place back in the canner.
  7. Vent 10 minutes, set gauge to 10lbs psi, and let pressure build.  Once 10 or 11 lbs psi is achieved, process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and allow pressure to return to zero naturally.  Once it reaches zero, wait 2 more minutes, then remove gauge and canner lid.  Wait 10 minutes for jars to acclimate to your kitchen temperature, then remove jars to a towel on the counter.
  9. Let jars cool completely, clean lids, label and store up to 1 year!

    Don’t they look kind of neat stacked up in there?

Ty’s Delicious Fried Sliced Potatoes

There’s no specific recipe for these.  You basically just heat some oil and butter in a fry pan, add the potatoes, a little  red wine vinegar, lots of salt and pepper, and some more butter.  Fry them, stirring minimally, until they are brown and the outsides are crispy.  Serve them with a perfectly grilled medium-rare steak.  That is an order!  (I had a picture of these, but for some reason I can’t get it to upload.  Computers are weird when they’re selective.)

Categories: Canning, Low-Acid, Potatoes | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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