|Root Cellars – my special solution for So Cal|
When we have a crop come in each season, we always have too much! The challenge is what to do with it – lemons, apricots, zucchini, apples, etc. You must act quickly to use or preserve at the peak of taste and freshness. I have several tools at my disposal – use it right away, freezing, canning or drying. Also, I give a lot away and the Fallbrook Food Pantry is always glad to see me.
One important option I have researched extensively is the traditional “root cellar”. For most of the country, this is a age-old tradition and there are books out that revive this practice. The life of many fruits and vegs can be extended by storage in a cool, damp cellar and these books go into all the details. However, this is not going to help me in So Cal. – we do not have a cellar. I have reviewed lots of articles on how to dig out an underground “bunker” for food storage but we were afraid that we would create a wonderful place for rattlesnakes to hang-out. I came up with what seems to be a reasonable alternative – a refrigerator without a freezer unit. I use it only for fruits and vegs and keep the temp around 40 degrees. Also, because it does not have a freezer unit, it does not dry the fruits and vegs out.
I also use a food dryer or dehydrator and it works very well. When I had to process hundreds of apricots (all from one small tree), the dryer worked well. I am still tinkering with how long to let different items dry. I think you are supposed let them go until all the moisture is driven out, but then they taste like shoe leather. If you let them stay soft, you are supposed to use a preservative like sulphur. I don’t do this, so I refrigerate or freeze them to be safe.
I am also too lazy to go through all the trouble of canning, so I make a jam and freeze it.
All this is a lot of work, but when you get to enjoy the fruits and vegs preserved at the peat of their freshness - it seems worth it. This is the brand I use:
http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com - model #3900
Food Chain Farm Homepage and Table of Contents
|See us on the HPWREN Webcam: http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras/RedMtn.html|