Dehydrated Vegetables (and a recipe or two too!)

Matt’s Magnificent Mouthwatering Morsels on Monday: 
Dehydrated Veggies and Freeze Dried Fruit
A Bahamas Provisioning Win

I honestly am not sure how we would’ve survived this long in the Bahamas without our stocking up on these great dehydrated veggies from Harmony House. They’ve allowed us to extend out cruising almost indefinitely without worry of starvation or even culinary boredom. When mixed with the few fresh things that we do find at markets here and there, it’s like we’re a floating gourmet restaurant. 
Enough fruit and veggies to survive the zombie apocalypse. Because eating brains alone is not a balanced meal.
We purchased the Vegetable Pantry Stuffer and the Deluxe Fruit Sampler. The Veggie Pantry Stuffer was about $140 and contains 16 quart sized containers of diced veggies. Included are:
  • Broccoli Flowerets
  • Green Cabbage
  • Diced Carrots
  • Sliced Celery
  • Whole Sweet Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Fancy Sliced Mushrooms
  • Jalapeno Dices
  • Tangy Green & White Leeks
  • Chopped White Onions
  • Green Sweet Peas
  • Red & Green Bell Pepper Mix
  • Diced Potatoes
  • Spinach Flakes
  • Tomato Dices
  • Tomato Powder
The Deluxe Fruit Sampler was $60 and contains 12 quart sized containers of freeze dried fruit. One of the best things about these fruits is that they are not sweetened at all…so forget about the sort of fruit you get in cereals or trail mixes from the supermarket. These are perfect for cooking. Lucy got addicted to munching on the pineapple, papaya and mangoes right out of the bag, and those stocks got low quickly. She had to be cut off and it wasn't pretty! Included in the sampler are:
  • Apple Dices
  • Apricot Dices
  • Banana Slices
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Mango Dices
  • Papaya Dices
  • Peach Dices
  • Pineapple Chunks
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
The Good:
The fruit is amazing to have on board. We made a chocolate cake and whipped together a simple raspberry sauce in minutes. It took about 8-10 raspberries, chopped, a teaspoon of sugar and about 3 tablespoons of water. I mixed it together and let it sit about 20 minutes. It was a-maz-ing!

How about triple berry scones, just like mom Panera used to make. Before mixing the scones, grab 1/2 cup of mixed blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Soak in 1/2 cup warm water (1:1 ratio for the fruit). Make the scones and add the (drained) fruit at the end. You can use the juice to substitute for the water/milk/juice called for in the recipe. 

Say you are making jambalaya (a staple on Independence). I may or my not have a fresh onion around these days. I haven’t had fresh celery or bell peppers since Miami. So I go to my pantry stuffer, and I pour out what I want in my jambalaya. I fill up 1 - 1.5 cups worth of bell pepper, celery, carrot, peas, green beans, and maybe even a few of those jalapeños!. I put these in the pot over medium heat and add 1.5x as much water as veggies (i.e. 1 cup of veggies to 1.5 cups water). It will simmer quickly, and once the water is absorbed and the veggies soft, you can add olive oil and any fresh veggies (like that onion I might have) and let it saute with a little salt. Then you can proceed on with the recipe…ham, sausage, rice, yada yada yada...deliciousness. We’ve learned to use caution with those jalapeños, though.
Wow! Where did you find gourmet Mango-Pineapple Salsa out here in the Out Islands? Nope, that boring Pace (from a huge bargain Wal-Mart jug, no less!) made extraordinary with freeze dried mangoes and pineapple.
Here’s another great one: hash browns (sort of). The recipe came with the pantry stuffer and its a winner. Take 1 cup of the potatoes, 1/4 cup of the onions and hydrate in 2 cups of water over medium heat in a skillet. Once the water is absorbed, add oil, salt and pepper and brown. Toss in the pan to brown the other side. Yum. 

The tomato powder is very neat too. It has basically replaced any tomato paste or plain tomato sauce need in our galley. Simply mix with enough water to get it to the consistency you want it (paste, sauce, whatever). I made pizza sauce one night by mixing tomato powder, garlic powder, brown sugar and salt and pepper with just a little water. No cooking or simmering or anything. No one ever knew…mu-ha-ha-ha!

The Bad:
Some go quicker than others! After we saw how awesome they were, we quickly ordered a second quart of the onions, potatoes and bell peppers before we left. The bell peppers were the first empty. 

The containers they come with are not very air tight, though they are adequate even for the Bahamas. The fruit is all now slightly soft as it has absorbed water from the humidity in the air. We tried ziplocks, but this yielded about the same results. To really keep it crisp, I think you would need to do zip locks inside a very good air-tight container. 

Some of the veggies are not winners…but I guess they are nice to have aboard. The broccoli is cut too small. It’s fine for broccoli cheddar soup, but you won’t be putting this in a stir-fry. I wouldn’t use the word “flowerets” to describe it. The leeks are not my favorite either…they just don’t seem to hydrate as well as the other options and wind up being chewy. The apples seem a bit flavorless to me…and obviously none of these things are like eating the item fresh. This stuff is for cooking, not munching…though some of the fruit is yummy in its own way. Those bananas were amazing when they were still crunchy!

So, in closing, these things rock. How many of you could whip something up right now and pull out of your pantry jalapeños, papayas, mangoes, bell peppers…the list goes on and on! And I’m in the middle of nowhere man! So cool! And while carrying around the entire pantry works for us, I could also totally dig premixing the ingredients into smaller packages for camping, hiking or kayaking trips!

Matt’s Dehydrated (“Don’t Worry, This Is All Fresh”) Chili
At a particularly low point, at a location far from good markets on a day far removed from mailboat day, we were out of everything fresh. So I made chili. Here’s what I did:

Prepare 1 can of red beans or pinto beans. You can use a can, drained and rinsed, or prepare dry beans on the stove or in a thermos (this is our favorite method on board). 

From your extensive dehydrated pantry:
Get about 1.5 cups full of stuff you want in chili. Pour in onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, jalapeno, and tomato dices for sure. Anything else at your culinary discretion.

If you have 1/2 pound of ground beef, that would be good. If you want to go vegetarian, vegan, or just don’t have the beef to spare, replace it with another tin of beans (perhaps a different kind) and maybe some mushrooms (you guessed it, dehydrated!!)
Chili and cornbread, Bahamas style! Who left that wrench on the table?
1 tin of beans
1.5 cups dehydrated veggies
1/2 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon beef stock concentrate
chili powder
garlic powder
dried thyme
salt and pepper

In your large pot, mix the veggies with 1.5x as much water. Bring to a simmer, and allow all the water to get absorbed. Once it has, add a little olive oil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the beef and allow to begin to brown. Add the beans. Cover with enough water to cover (probably about 2 cups) and add stock concentrate and spices. Measures aren’t given for the spices because that’s not how you make chili. Just guess…start with a teaspoon of each and add more if you desire. Something else in your pantry…add it in! I may or may not be leaving out my secret ingredients 😉 If you want more heat, add some cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
Pan made corn bread recipe pending...standby!

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  1. Truly amazing! Not only can you cook, but you can make your own fresh water.
    Sorry also to hear about the camera dying. Time in a moist environment is not good for cameras or dehydrated veggies.

    1. Thanks Belinda! We are very bummed about the deaths of various cameras: our S100 died and it's the only one that I have a good underwater housing for (besides the GoPro). Our old pointandshoot underwater Sony died shortly thereafter (no surprise since it hadn't been used since 2006!). The SLRs are still clicking away, but the Rebel's good lens is now manual focus only! Camera shopping time when we get back to the States!


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