Zucchini Chips! 5 healthy, easy versions.

This summer I have zucchini coming out my ears.  The cold, wet spring, in the end, didn’t finish off my zucchini plants and the hot, dry summer provided perfect growing conditions. I made loaves and muffins, I grated zucchini and froze it.  We fried it.  And we still have more.   None of my company is allowed to leave without taking a zucchini… or three.  This year in desperation I dehydrated them.  I was amazed!  They were crispy, had a natural mild sweetness, and were a delicious snack.  I came up with a few easy toppings for variety.  And you know they are a hit when the kids are eating them out of the dehydrator before it is even turned off. 

Directions

  • Slice zucchini in thin slices. Thinner means they dry faster, and are more crispy, but slightly thicker is ok too, because they curl up into great little “cups” that make excellent salsa or sour cream scoops!
  • Choose your topping.  If using oil, toss in a bit of oil and sprinkle on your toppings.  Toss together in a bowl and place on racks in the dehydrator, or on cookie sheets in the oven.
  • Dehydrate at about 135F for several hours or until crisp.

Toppings that taste fantastic (and I know because I’ve tried them):

Salt and Vinegar
Soak zucchini slices in vinegar for a few hours or overnight.  Toss with a pinch of salt and dehydrate.

Cinnamon Sugar
Toss with a few tbsp. of melted coconut oil and a cane sugar-cinnamon mix.  Dehydrate.

Salt and Oil
Toss with a few tbsp. of grape seed oil or olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Dehydrate.

Herbs
Toss with a few tbsp. of your favorite herbs.  I would suggest freshly-dehydrated dill or basil.  Dehydrate.

Plain
Dehydrate as is.  Dehydrated zucchini has a slightly sweet flavour and are surprisingly good with no toppings at all!

  • Store in air tight container to preserve crispiness.
  •  Don’t over-salt them!  They dehydrate and shrink up a lot so use salt sparingly.
  • For the same reasons as above, don’t over-oil them.
  • Reaching crispiness may take longer than several hours.  My homemade dehydrator took a full day to do the job since I don’t have an accurate temperature adjustment on it.

Enjoy!

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, From The Farm Blog Hop #35 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #42.

Why You Should Boycott Back To School Shopping.

School starts up again in September.  The malls are are in full back-to-school mode.  Lots of sales are on now, from shoes to jeans, backpacks to underwear.  And you need to start thinking about new clothes for your kids, right?  Right?  Wrong!  Back to school sales are a gimmick.  They are designed to convince you that you need new clothes in order to go back to school.  You need a new back pack.  New shoes.  You need the right color, the right brand the bling on the back pack.  You must get it while it’s on sale!  Black Friday is a crazed consumer-driven holiday full of people buying things they want but don’t need.  Back-to-school shopping has become the same thing.

Time Magazine says

Teen Vogue magazine is promoting August 11 as a national day of back-to-school shopping. Already a number of participating retailers have signed on, including Aeropostale, American Eagle, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Pantene and Staples.

During a time when the economy is slow and you are forced to spend less, the retailers are desperate to get you out making purchases and back-to-school sales do just that.  If you can recognise it as a marketing scam and follow these steps before you decide to buy anything, you’ll save money, buy responsibly, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and feel more in control of yourself in a must-buy world.

  1. Before you start back to school shopping, take a moment and go through your children’s clothing and school supplies.  Do they really need more clothes/shoes/backpacks/paper/binders etc?  Take stock of what you have and make a list of what you need.
  2. Reuse your old back packs that are still fully functional.  Indoor shoes, if they haven’t been outgrown, can be used as outdoor shoes this year.  Check to see if clothing still fits. Hand down clothing that is too small to a younger child.
  3. Shop secondhand.  Our secondhand clothing stores and landfills are overflowing with unwanted clothes.  Because they are worn out?  No!  Because they are not quite the latest style.  Because someone has grown out of them.  Because someone had too many of them.  Secondhand shopping is not only cheaper, it is a much greener and more sustainable way to shop because you are reusing items rather than buying new. Secondhand items create an almost zero carbon footprint.
  4. Buy things that will last.  Choose a good quality back pack and reusable lunchboxes and containers.  Then the kids can use them year after year.
  5. If you can’t find what you need secondhand, be a responsible shopper and buy it from a local small business owned by your own community members whose children actually go to school with yours, and who actually spend money outside of the business that benefits your own community.  Don’t shop at Walmart.
  6. Stay away from the malls!  Chances are, if you don’t GO THERE you won’t buy anything.  Malls are set up with colors, posters, music and even temperature to encourage you to buy what they are selling.  Even being around the people who are spending money can cause you to feel like it is ok to do the same thing.

Only buy what you need, when you need it.  Refuse to buy anything this year in honor of your children going back to school, unless it is something they actually need.  Boycott back-to-school sales.  Not only will you save a lot of money, but you will be acting in a more environmentally-responsible manner, and you will be doing your small part to control an out-of-control, consumer-driven (consuming) society.

 

 

1 jar a week dill pickle recipe for small scale gardeners.

Pickling cucumbers are produced on a small vine that grows easily and happily in containers, small spaces, or up trellises.  It stands to reason, then, that they are great for small gardens, including container gardens.  If you have several vines growing up an arbour, or in a small garden plot, you’ll get pickling cucumbers alright, but not many at a time.  Fortunately that doesn’t matter.  Pickling cucumbers can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, and you can make 1 jar a week if that’s all the cucumbers you get from your plants.  Your plants may produce for up to a month or even more, and you can slowly preserve your own pickles by following this method.

Collecting your cucumbers:

Collect your pickling cucumbers each day (even if there is only 1 a day!) at the appropriate size.  Wash them carefully, removing stems, dried flower bits, dirt and spines.  Spines come off easily just by rubbing them with your hands.  Store them in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag with a damp, clean rag.  The rag will keep the cucumbers fresh longer.  Your cucumbers will last up to a week in the bag.  Keep adding to it during the week.

Collecting and storing dill:

Harvest your dill whenever it is ready.  (Or buy it).  You need the flowering heads as well as the green hairy bits on the stem.  Rinse the dill, fold it carefully and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer.  It will last for many months this way, and can be pulled out and used for your pickles at any time.

Once you have enough to make one jar of pickles, using the recipe below, prepare your brine.  The brine can be kept in the fridge in jars with good lids for months as well.

Brine:

Bring to a boil and keep simmering

  • 1 quart pickling or white vinegar
  • ¾ cup of pickling salt (don’t use table salt which will soften the pickles)
  • 3 quarts boiling water

Directions:

  1. Place one peeled clove of garlic in the jar.
  2. Put in a head of fresh or frozen dill, and a few hairy bits as well.
  3. Fill your jar with pickling cucumbers.
  4.  Add another head of dill, leaving an inch of space at the top.
  5. Fill the jar with hot brine, leaving one inch of head space in your jar.
  6. Wipe down jar rim and neck with a clean cloth.
  7. Put on prepared lid and ring.  Set aside.
  8. Cool your brine and refrigerate.
  9. Place jar in a canner with water covering the lid.  Heat water to a boil.  Boil jar in a canner for 10 minutes.   Turn off heat.  Don’t remove jar until water has stopped boiling.   Remove jar and cool on wire rack.

Every week fill another jar!  Super easy, and a great way to have your own home-grown pickles even when you don’t have a big garden.

Notes:

  • Only use pickling cucumbers.  Regular or long English cucumbers get mushy when they are pickled.
  • Make sure your brine is boiling and your jars and lids are hot.
  • Allow your pickles to “pickle” for 3-4 weeks before eating.  They won’t taste good until then!
  • You can use this recipe to pickle beans and carrots too!

This post has been shared on From The Farm Blog Hop #42.