Homemade whole wheat Pita Bread from scratch. Preservative-free!

Commercial pita bread, along with other bread, wraps and pizza shells, are easy to find in the grocery store.  But they are all loaded with preservatives to keep them fresh and soft.  Pita bread is actually simple to make, and if you want to store it longer than a few days, simply freeze it fresh.  With basic ingredients and a bit of time to allow for this yeast bread to rise, healthy pita bread can be made at home from scratch.

Pita bread is also perfect for quick homemade mini pizzas.  Simply top with your favorite pizza toppings, pop in the oven for a few minutes, and serve!  You can also make pita chips out of pita bread.  Try your hand at cinnamon pita chips by coating with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and then popping in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up.  You can also coat with oil and salt to make a crunchy, savoury chip.  Whatever you choose, homemade is healthier!  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1.5 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar

2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. cornmeal for dusting the baking sheets.

Directions:

  1. Combine yeast and sugar with warm water in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup (or a bowl).  Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt.  Whisk together..
  3. Once yeast mixture is active (bubbly and ‘growing’),  make a “well” in the middle of the flour mixture and add the yeast mixture all at once.  Stir gently with a spatula until it forms a rough ball.  Dump contents on floured counter top and kneed for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic-feeling.
  4. Place in large, greased bowl.  Flip once so both sides are coated lightly with oil. Cover bowl with damp tea towel and allow to rise until about double, 1 hour or more.
  5. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured counter top.  Kneed for a few minutes.  Divide into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape or roll each into a circle, about 1/8th of an inch thick.  (Like small pizzas).  Let rise on floured counter top for about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 450F.
  7. Heat pans for ONLY 2 minutes in hot oven and then remove.  Prepare baking sheets by sprinkling cornmeal on top to prevent dough from sticking.
  8. Carefully remove pitas from counter top and place on hot baking sheets that are covered in cornmeal.
  9. Bake at 450F for 6 minutes.  They will bubble up.  Remove from oven and allow to cool enough that you can pick them up and cut open the pocket.
  10. Slide a sharp bread knife inside each pocket to open them up, careful to not rip the pocket.
  11. Cool bread completely under a damp rag to help keep the pockets soft.  Store in airtight container or bread bag.

Notes:

  • Use organic cornmeal (as well as other ingredients) to guarantee they are not genetically-modified.
  • Any pitas that you accidentally rip can be used as pizzas.
  • I have yet to try this with 100% whole wheat flour but that will be my next experiment.  I’ll post it here when I try it.

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #48.

 

Simple Fruit Leather using fresh/frozen/canned fruit, or jam.

Fruit leather might seem a little daunting to make at first, but in reality is very simple, and is a good way to use up fruit. When you have canned it, jammed it, frozen it, dehydrated it and made syrup from it and STILL have fruit left over, why not make fruit leather from it? Everyone loves it, it makes a great lunchbox snack, and can contain as much or as little sweetener as you like.

Homemade fruit leather is a healthy, cheap alternative to “fruit to go” snacks and the unhealthy “fruit roll ups”.  Here is the ingredient list for Fruit Roll Ups Blastin’ Berry Hot Colors:

Pears from concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Monoglycerides, Fruit Pectin, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Vitamin C (Acorbic Acid), Natural Flavour, Color (red 30, yellows 5&6, blue 1).

Need I say more?  There is no need for color, pectin, preservatives, corn syrup, GMO ingredients and so on.

Fruit leather can be made from pretty much any kind of fruit you like. It can also be made with processed fruit, such as jam, canned fruit, or frozen fruit. If the fruit is firm it will need to be heated to soften and blend. You can mix and match fruits as desired. You can also add spices such as cinnamon or vanilla, etc. You can sweeten your fruit leather with whatever kind of sweetener you like, or no sweetener at all. Taste your puree. If it is already sweet keep in mind it will be sweeter when dehydrated.

If you haven’t purchased a dehydrator, I highly recommend spending the extra money and buying an Excalibur.  They are top-of-the-line dehydrators, and recommended by many.  My dehydrator is homemade, made from these plans.  You can make your own too if you are so inclined!

Directions:

  1. Place your peeled and chopped (or canned, frozen etc.) fruit into a large pot.
  2. Heat to cook fruit if necessary. (example, raspberries will mash nicely without needing to be cooked. Apples will not). If the fruit is not juicy, or is frozen, add a half to 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pot to make a nice puree. As the fruit warms up, use a potato masher to mash it into small pieces.
  3. Mash fruit.  Once fruit its mashing nicely, you can use a stick blender or a whisk to further blend the fruit.
  4. When your puree is a smooth, wet consistency, you can sweeten it or add spices or vanilla.
  5. Pour puree evenly onto parchment-lined dehydrator sheets. Make sure your parchment paper turns up at the edges if the fruit mixture is quite liquid.
  6. Dehydrate the puree following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding temperature. It could take as little as 5 hours or as long as 24 hours or more. This depends on thickness and temperature.
  7. Leather will be ready once it is no longer sticky to the touch.
  8. Remove from dehydrator and cut with kitchen shears into sections. You can remove it from the parchment paper or leave it on. Leaving it on makes it less sticky for children to handle.
  9. Store in an airtight container. It will last longer if it is in the fridge or freezer.
  10. Enjoy!

Fruit leather is a healthy snack and a great way to preserve in-season fruit.

Tips:

  • If you chose to sweeten your puree, you can do so with anything. Honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, jam etc will all work. Just remember that however sweet your puree is, it will be sweeter when dehydrated because you are concentrating the final product.
  • If you don’t like seeds, you can strain any seedy puree through cheese cloth first.
  • Check your parchment paper!!  Poorer quality parchment paper is coated with teflon.  Choose parchment paper that is coated with silicone which is a safer alternative.

This post has been linked to The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday September 11, The MorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #25 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Fruit puree (blackberries, plums and crab apple jam) ready to dehydrate.

Oat Flour Vegetable Crackers Recipe

We hardly ever have crackers in the house.  Not because I have anything against healthy, wholesome crackers, but because every time I look at them in the grocery store I think to myself “I can make those” and I pass them over.  Then I go home and don’t make them.  Crackers aren’t hard to make, but if you have kids in the house who would eat them like chips given the opportunity, they are hard to keep in stock.

A lot of commercial crackers contain preservatives, artificial color or flavour, and possibly high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.  They are for the most part, just another processed food.  They don’t have to be though.  Tasty crackers can be made from good, wholesome ingredients as well.  This recipe tastes something like vegetable crackers, but the ingredients are much more simple.  Check out Nabisco Vegetable Thins.

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), CANOLA AND/OR SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM AND/OR PALM KERNEL AND/OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL,  DEHYDRATED VEGETABLE BLEND (CONTAINS CARROTS, ONIONS, CELERY, RED BELL PEPPER, CABBAGE, TOMATO, PARSLEY), SUGAR, SALT, LEAVENING (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), DEXTROSE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ONION POWDER, HYDROLYZED SOY AND WHEAT PROTEIN, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), NATURAL FLAVOR, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, DISODIUM GUANYLATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER).

NOT good.  MSG, HFCS, Trans fats, artificial color and flavor.  Try this recipe that contains nothing but good, wholesome ingredients!

Homemade vegetable seasoning. Dehydrate then grind the vegetables to a powder. Green onions, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  to 1 3/4 c. oat flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • salt to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk first  6 ingredients together.
  3. Cut butter into dry mixture with a pastry cutter until it is pea-sized and crumbly.
  4. Mix water and vanilla together.  Toss into dry mixture with a fork until dough makes a ball.  If dough is too sticky add more flour by the Tbsp. as needed.
  5. With a sheet of parchment paper over top, roll out dough on a baking stone (or on any cookie sheet, but with parchment underneath as well.)  Roll as thin as you can.
  6. Sprinkle with salt as desired.
  7. Cut into squares.
  8. Bake at 400F for about 8-10 minutes or until crackers are starting to turn golden and getting firmer.  Don’t bake them so long they crumble!
  9. Cool a few minutes on baking sheet then using a metal flipper, transfer to cooling rack and cool fully.

Notes:

  • This recipe can be made with whole wheat or spelt flour in place of oat flour.
  • To make a plainer version of this cracker omit the vegetable seasoning and sesame seeds.
  • I make my own vegetable seasoning by dehydrating and then blending to a powder vegetables such as green onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and more.

Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship’s Cracker Recipe.

This post has been shared on The Morristribe’s Homesteader Carnival #17.