a productive weekend of food [General]

2009 Aug 3
Verbatim from my blog at, minus the links which get lost in the cut-and-paste :


With the family away in Nova Scotia our little house has seemed awfully big the last week, especially so on the weekend. So I've been spending my time going crazy with preserving food! It was high time I tried out the new food dehydrator I'd bought a few months ago, and of course there was lots of canning to be done, too.

On Saturday morning I walked down to the Parkdale Market at the end of the street, just to see what was in season at present. I was not sure what I'd end up canning, but I was pretty sure the Market would tell me. And sure enough it did! The first thing that caught my eye was a large basket of absolutely wonderful-looking carrots that were on sale for 3 bucks. 3 bucks! I asked and the guy running the booth said they were 2 days old now so he wanted to get rid of them. 2 whole days? Wow! Gawsh I love my market! So I picked them up and when I got them home, weighed them in at 15.5 lbs.

I filled the sink with cold water and began processing them. I normally don't peel young carrots like this, but I do give them a really good scrub with these surgeon's brushes from Lee Valley - the ones that surgeon's used to scrub their hands before surgery. I spent a good 3 or 4 hours washing and chopping carrots - they were mostly pretty small so took a lot longer than larger carrots would have taken - lots of intricate work in the scrubbing. But no big deal, I enjoy doing that sort of thing.

All 5 trays of the dehydrator got filled up pretty quickly, and about 6 or 7 hours later it got reduced down to quite a small amount - I filled a 750ml mason jar with dried carrots. Wow! But I'll do it again for sure. I also used my Kill-A-Watt energy meter to measure the electricity consumption of the dehydrator - it uses a mere 1/3 KwH per hour! At 6 cents per KwH with Ottawa Hydro, running it all day like that still costs less than a buck! No big deal at all.

I got enough carrots to fill 15 x 500ml mason jars in addition to the dried carrots. And then had enough (unchopped) left over to about fill a 950ml container that I put into the fridge - good munching for my lunches this week.

And in there as well during the day I managed to can up a bunch of brown rice for my lunches at work - you can never have too much of that on hand!

Then yesterday I went back to the market with plans to buy something to make fruit leather in the dehydrator - a surprise for the boys who will be back today (yay!). I bought some raspberries and peaches, and decided to get some red pepper to put in there too. One pint of berries, 3 peaches, and 2 very large red peppers created about 5 cups of puree, and as it turns out the fruit leather trays for the dehydrator each take about 2 cups, and there is only 2 of them. So I still have 1 cup of puree in the fridge that I have to do something with - maybe my wife will use it for smoothies or something. I also loaded up the tray with peach wedges - that I first dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring, some red pepper, and a bunch of potato slices in an attempt to make healthy potato chips.

The fruit leather took a good 10 hours to dry out completely - but it did turn out really well! Though there is a bit too much red pepper in it - not sure if the boys will eat it or not, we shall see. The potato chip experiment was a good first try - more experimentation will be required. The chips that were completely dried were actually not bad, but some of them were not completely dried and sort of were like soggy potato chips. Lesson learned - I need a way to slice them with a very high degree of consistency in thickness. More to come on this front. I'm also going to experiment with spicing them a bit - some sort of cajun spice. I'm sure my wife will be able to come up with something fantastic.

While all that was going on in the canner, I put a batch of Lentil Dhal into the slow cooker, which cooked away overnight actually, and I canned it up this morning. Got 12 x 250ml mason jars.

While I was going about my business yesterday I also noticed a smoked ham hock in my freezer, that I'd smoked earlier this year but never ate. The Lentil Dhal got me thinking that I needed to convert that ham hock into Pea Soup - so no sooner was my slow cooker cleaned out this morning, than it got loaded up with the appropriate ingredients. I don't have my recipe on this site yet but I'll put it up later. In the meantime, here it is on Ottawa Foodies since I posted it there some time ago. Of course I used some of my canned carrots for this!

I shot a bunch of videos the last few days too, and will be putting those online before too long - so stay tuned!

What a great food weekend it has been so far! I think I'll probably also be making pizza dough today, so that I can treat the family with home made pizza when they arrive home around supper time. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

2009 Aug 3
Nice! And if you're going to be doing a lot more dehydrating, a mandoline (and a better stainless steel professional one like a Bron Coucke) would be a good investment. Consistent thin (to even paper-thin) slices fast. A very useful tool.

2009 Aug 3
damn those Bron Coucke mandolines look boss

zymurgist - what time is your interview on the air tomorrow?

2009 Aug 3
Yeah, I see Lee Valley has a nice one, if rather expensive.

BTW, my interview with Ottawa Morning was this evening, and I'll be on the air tomorrow morning just after 8am. Just after 9am the segment will be available here : www.cbc.ca

The original intent was "how to make beer on the cheap" but after spending an hour or so listening to me talk about all the different things I do, she said she was going to change focus to just a more general "making food yourself, frugally"

2009 Aug 4
Alas I don't have a fruit leather tray. Perhaps something like Cheesecloth might work?

That is very impressive btw.

2009 Aug 4
Here are the canned goods, and the jar of dried carrots. Does not show the fruit leather, dried turnips, and other dried veggies.

Far left - carrots on bottom, lentil dhal on top

Middle - pea soup bottom, lentil dhal top

Right - rice on bottom and top

2009 Aug 4


good segment. i was hoping to hear more from you and less banter from the hosts though. love the shout-out to Ottawa Foodies and the chicken carcasses thread!

"can't you watch TV and can at the same time?" :P

2009 Aug 4
Yeah, she recorded a tonne of stuff - would have liked to have more of it come through too. That first segment from me was actually cut together from a whole bunch of different conversations, and made it sound like I was rambling. Oh well, no big deal. It was fun.

2009 Aug 5
I heard the tail-end of the segment this morning (fun to wake up to) and it sounded great, though I missed parts such as mentioning Ottawa Foodies.

2009 Aug 5
It is online now :


2009 Aug 5
Hi Zym, since you are the canning King, I have 2 questions:

-I make a home made caramel sauce. Can I can it in a hot water bath? If so, for how long and how long will the jar keep unopened in my cellar?

-I also make a NC vinegar base BBQ sauce that I would love to can. Any tips?

2009 Aug 5
My answers assume you've read at least 1 good book and understand all the ins and outs of canning. You should never home can without having read a good modern book (post 1995)

- caramel sauce - not sure what that is, but I'm guessing it is almost 100% sugar, so probably OK in hot water bath (like jam). Post recipe to be sure.

- BBQ sauce - give me a (preferably large) sample and I'll experiment for you :-) Post the recipe and I can probably tell you more. But if it is very heavily vinegar based it is probably OK to HW can.

2009 Aug 5
Hi Zym, very impressive.

FYI, though, "lentil dhal" is redundant. In Hindi, "dhal" means lentil.

This is kinda like "chai tea", which is also redundant: in Hindi "chai" means tea. In the West, however, "chai tea" has come to mean what Indians call "masala chai" ie. spiced tea.

2009 Aug 5
Thanks for that bit of info Ms Foodie

Yeah, I don't say "chai tea" because "chai" is Russian for "tea"

And I also know that "garam masala" means "spice mixture"

Do you know WHY some languages use "chai" for "tea", and others use "tea" (like English and French)

2009 Aug 5
zym, I would guess linguistic adaptation / borrowing?

Here's one source:


but, i agree, very impressive. Were it not for your posts, i don't think i'd ever have noticed the canning supplies (now?) available through Loblaw, hehe.

2009 Aug 6
Canadian Tire has a much better selection at better prices - I was at Superstore last night as was terribly disappointed with the selection and prices.

2009 Aug 6
zym, going off topic for a second w/ a very naive question: how much salt do you (need to) use in your canning and preserving?

In very general terms, could someone w/ sodium-intake restrictions manage?

2009 Aug 6
Except for sauerkraut and kosher dills, which both require a fair bit of salt for the fermentation to work properly, you don't need any to the best of my recollection. But as always : READ A BOOK! :-)

2009 Aug 6
pffft ... READ? it was sounding fun. ;-)

Interesting to hear about salt-requirements. dispels a common assumption i had --conditioned by store bought-- that anything w/ a shelf-life tends to be high in salt (or alcohol).

2009 Aug 6
Store bought adds salt to get you hooked. It's like the tobacco companies juicing up the nicotine