Dried truck[edit | edit source]
As a war measure the surplus vegetables in many city markets have been forced by the governments into large municipal drying plants. Community driers have been established in the trucking regions and even itinerant drying machines have been sent from farm to farm drying the vegetables which otherwise would have gone to waste.
The drying of vegetables may seem strange to the present generation,but we are very young; to our grandmothers it was no novelty. Many housewives even to-day prefer dried sweet corn to the canned, and find also that dried pumpkin and squash are excellent for pie making. Snap beans often are strung on threads and dried above the stove. Cherries and raspberries still are dried on bits of bark for use instead of raisins.
This country is producing large quantities of perishable foods every year, which should be saved for storage, canned, or properly dried.
Drying is not a panacea for the waste evil, nor should it take the place of storing or canning to any considerable extent where proper storage facilities are available or tin cans or glass jars can be obtained cheap.
For the farmer's wife the new methods of canning are probably better than sun drying, which requires a somewhat longer time. But dried material can be stored in receptacles which cannot be used for canning. Then, too, canned fruit and vegetables freeze and cannot be shipped as conveniently--in winter. Dried vegetables can be compacted and shipped or stored with a minimum of risk. String them up to the ceiling of the storeroom or attic.
A few apples or sweet potatoes or peas or even a single turnip can be dried and saved. Even when very small quantities are dried at a time, a quantity sufficient for a meal will soon be secured. Small lots of dried vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, turnips,potatoes, and onions, can be combined to advantage for soups and stews.
In general, most fruits or vegetables, to be dried quickly, must first be shredded or cut into slices, because many are too large to dry quickly, or have skins the purpose of which is to prevent drying out. If the air applied at first is too hot, the cut surfaces of the sliced fruits or vegetables become hard, or scorched, covering the juicy interior so that it will not dry. Generally it is not desirable that the temperature in drying should go above 140 deg to 150 deg F., and it is better to keep it well below this point. Insects and insect eggs are killed by the heat.
It is important to know the degree of heat in the drier, and this cannot be determined accurately except by a thermometer. Inexpensive oven thermometers can be found on the market, or an ordinary chemical thermometer can be suspended in the drier.
Drying of certain products can be completed in some driers within two or three hours. When sufficiently done they should be so dry that water cannot be pressed out of the freshly cut pieces, they should not show any of the natural grain of the fruit on being broken, and yet not be so dry as to snap or crackle. They should be leathery and pliable.
When freshly cut fruits or vegetables are spread out they immediately begin to evaporate moisture into the air, and if in a closed box will very soon saturate the air with moisture. This will slow down the rate of drying and lead to the formation of molds. If a current of dry air is blown over them continually, the water in them will evaporate steadily until they are dry and crisp. Certain products, especially raspberries, should not be dried hard, because if too much moisture is removed from them they will not resume their original form when soaked in water.
The rotary hand slicer is adapted for use on a very wide range of material. Don't slice your hand with it.
From an eighth to a quarter of an inch is a fair thickness for most of the common vegetables to be sliced. To secure fine quality, much depends upon having the vegetables absolutely fresh, young, tender,and perfectly clean; one decayed root may flavor several kettles of soup if the slices from it are scattered through a batch of material. High-grade "root" vegetables can only be made from peeled roots.
Blanching consists of plunging the vegetables into boiling water for a short time. Use a wire basket or cheesecloth bag for this. After blanching as many minutes as is needed, drain well and remove the surface moisture from vegetables by placing them between two towels or by exposing them to the sun and air for a short time.
A mosquito net is thrown over the product to protect the slices from flies and other insects. Fruits and vegetables, when dried in the sun, generally are spread on large trays of uniform size which can be stacked one on top of the other and protected from rain by covers made of oilcloth, canvas, or roofing paper.
A very cheap tray can be made of lath three fourths of an inch thick and 2 inches wide, which form the sides and ends of a box, and smoothed lath which is nailed on to form the bottom. As builders'laths are 4 feet long, these lath trays are most economical of material when made 4 feet in length.
A cheap and very satisfactory drier for use over the kitchen stove can be made by any handy man of small-mesh galvanized-wire netting and laths or strips of wood about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches wide. By using two laths nailed together the framework can be stiffened and larger trays made if desirable. This form can be suspended from the ceiling over the kitchen range or over a clear burning oil,gasoline, or gas stove, and it will utilize the hot air which rises during the cooking hour. It can be raised out of the way or swung to one side by a pulley or by a crane made of lath. When the stove is required for cooking, the frame is lowered or swung back to utilize the heat which otherwise would be wasted. Still another home drier is the cookstove oven. Bits of food, left overs, especially sweet corn, can be dried on plates in a very slow oven or on the back of the cookstove and saved for winter use.
Where the electric "juice" is not monopolized, an electric fan in drying is economical, especially for those who already have a fan.
Many sliced fruits placed in long trays 3 by 1 foot and stacked in two tiers, end to end, before an electric fan can be dried within twenty-four hours. Some require much less time. For instance, sliced string beans and shredded sweet potatoes will dry before a fan running at a moderate speed within a few hours.
The dried fruit or vegetables must be protected from insects and rodents, also from the outside moisture, and will keep best in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. In the more humid regions,moisture-tight containers should be used. If a small amount of dried product is put in each receptacle, just enough for one or two meals,it will not be necessary to open a large container.
Your American ingenuity and the American practice of reading will show you a lot of ways of saving waste: for example, frozen potatoes are not necessarily spoiled, we are told by Mr. de Ronsic, a writer in the _Reveil Agricole_. They may be dried and then cooked as usual. The _Revue Scientifique_ (Paris), abstracting the article in question, says:
"The potatoes must be dried to prevent decomposition, which takes place very rapidly after they have thawed out. . . . "The oven should be heated as for baking bread. Then, when it has reached the necessary temperature, which is easily recognized, the potatoes are put in, cutting up the largest. They are spread out in a layer so that evaporation may easily take place, the door of the oven being left open. From time to time the mass is stirred up with a poker to facilitate the evaporation. When the drying has gone far enough, the potatoes having become hard as bits of wood, they are withdrawn to make room for others.
"Potatoes thus dried may be boiled with enough water to make a paste similar to that which they would have furnished if mashed in the ordinary manner, and which will answer very well, at least to feed stock. The potatoes will be found to have lost none of their nutritive value."
Even if you haven't any acres--yet, there isn't any law against drying in the city. Either in sales or in saving it will help to pay for the country place later and the country place can be made to pay it back again.
Call your product say "Landers' Desiccated Beans" or "Glory's Dehydrated Corn." They will sell better, they may even taste better,trying to live up to the description. There's dollars in a name.
As a preservative ice must not be neglected. The _Country Gentleman_ says:
While the temperature is below the freezing point we should take advantage of even short frosts to lay up ice for next summer. The man without an ice pond need not be, without ice--he can freeze it in pans outdoors. An ice plant of this sort will cost from fifteen to twenty dollars.
A double tank should be made of galvanized iron. The inner compartment of this tank should be ten feet long, two feet wide, and twelve inches deep. The top of the tank should be slightly wider than the bottom. The inner tank should be divided into six compartments by means of galvanized iron strips. The double tank should be placed near the outdoor pump, or stream, where it can easily be filled.
Being exposed on all sides, the water will freeze in from one hour to three hours. A bucket of hot water poured into the space between the tanks will loosen the cakes of ice, each weighing 200 pounds.
Four tons of ice will last the average family a year. The cakes may be packed away in the icehouse as they are frozen.