Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dehydrating sweet potatoes...

We were able to grow a very nice crop of sweet potatoes in last year's garden.  However, when we went to dig them, something (probably mice) had gotten into them and done a lot of damage.  Here is a picture of one of them with the chewed out hole:

I don't wash them before storage.  I think maybe they would not keep as well, but I don't really know that.  In spite of the damage, they keep fairly well, but as time goes on, they do start to dry out and get icky looking more and more.  I didn't want them to go to waste.  I had about a peck (1/4 bushel) of them in that condition, so I decided to dehydrate them and want to show you how I did it and tell you how to use the resulting product. This is rather long-winded, but it really was easy to do.

First, scrub them clean and then boil them until they are tender.  Pour them into a colander to drain and let them cool for at least an hour so they are easy to handle.

Remove the skins and mash well with a potato masher.  I suggest you do not use the electric mixer.  That makes them almost too soft to deal with.

Here is a dehydrator tray with the mesh in place.

Get 2 squares of Wax Paper and place one on the counter.  Put about 1.5 cups of the mashed sweet potatoes on it.

Cover with the other piece of wax paper.  By the way, wax paper has two sides (of course!) and one is slicker than the other.  Use the slick side.

GENTLY, using a rolling pin, roll out the mashed sweet potatoes...

This shows you the thickness I rolled mine to.  You don't want it so thick it has a hard time drying out, but you don't want it too thin, either because then trying to put it onto the dehydrating tray will not work out.

Peel off the top piece of wax paper.

Pick up the wax paper and simply invert it onto the tray and then carefully peel off the wax paper.

Put all of your filled trays into the dehydrator and set the temperature to 125 degrees F.  Here is one of them after it was good and dry.  You don't want it leathery.  All the moisture needs to be gone.  You'll have to check to see how long it takes, but it will be at LEAST overnight and probably longer.

When it is all dry enough, peel the sheets of sweet potato off of the mesh and break them into pieces into a bowl.

Chop part of them into a food processor and process to break up into little pieces, then..

Transfer to a blender and blend until a powder is formed.  Store the powder in an airtight container out of the light in a cool room or pantry.

Here is the amount of powder from that peck of sweet potatoes!  Isn't that amazing!

To reconstitute - in a heat-proof container, combine 1 part Sweet Potato powder with 3 parts boiling water, cover with a lid and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Stir, add a dollop of butter and eat!  Or, it can be used in breads, mixed with the flour, or meat loaf or in sweet potato pie!

Friday, February 7, 2014

A tiny bread-making tip...

I made bread today.  Can you smell it just looking at that picture?  It just came out of the oven.  Ok... on to the tip.  I tried something a little different.  After I mixed the whole wheat flour, water, yeast, black strap molasses, salt and extra-virgin olive oil in my big bread bowl, I let it rest for 15 minutes before I proceeded with the kneading.  It made it a lot easier to manage the dough.  Hard to describe the difference, but I'll be doing this from now on, and thought I'd share.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spring must be coming!

This morning, I was surprised to see this little visitor on the window frame in our kitchen. I realize she undoubtedly was wintering over in the house, but it really cheered me up to see her.  :)

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