Shannon

I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
930 articles written by Shannon

dehydrated-okra-three

Every 24-48 hours I head out to the garden, usually in the evening. It is often when I am standing at the clothesline as the sun begins to fade that I look over to see the okra – as tall as me now – waiting to be picked. So Joshie and I play a game of hide-and-seek while I fill the bowls and try not to get too itchy from the spines in the process.

Besides the occasional sneak-in when I’m making chili or stew, most of the okra is now being preserved. I’ve canned some, I’ve fermented some, but mostly I’m dehydrating it.

Last year we put up a bunch of dehydrated summer squash and okra. The summer squash was a bit tough, even after letting it soak in boiling water before cooking thoroughly in soups or stews. Thus the 50+ quarts of canned squash this summer.

The okra we treated in the same manner and it was tender and delicious and dare I say not noticeably slimy. So this summer, it has been my go-to preservation method. After all, I know we’ll eat plenty of soups, stews, and chili throughout the winter and no one will notice the extra handful of okra here, a jar of canned squash there, right?

We’ll see.

dehydrated-okra-two

The other thing I really like about dehydration is that it is dead simple once you have a dehydrator set up. Our dehydrator is this handy dandy guy from Cultures for Health that works really well in our fairly dry climate. There are also more economical options and a simple internet search for “homemade solar dehydrator” will yield you plenty of ideas if you want to DIY it.

To dehydrate the okra, I follow this simple process:

  • Chop okra into 1/4 inch or thinner slices.
  • Spread out into a single, evenly distributed layer on dehydrator trays/screens.
  • Cover to keep off flies and other bugs and allow to dehydrate 3-7 days, depending on your climate.
  • Remove to a glass storage jar and repeat.

dehydrated-okra-four

To Re-hydrate for Cooking: Either add directly to a pot of soup that will simmer for at least 6-8 hours or cover with boiling water and allow to re-hydrate for about 20-30 minutes before draining and adding directly to whatever dish you are cooking.

We get about a quart of dehydrated okra per round in the dehydrator and have been refilling the dehydrator every time a couple of big bowls come in from the garden. And since these guys don’t seem to be slowing down and we don’t have plans for this bed for at least several more weeks, I will continue with dehydrating and fermenting until then.

What are you busy squirreling away as fall approaches?

Helpful Resources

kefir-biscuits-1

My sourdough starter kicked the bucket about a month ago… or, more accurately, I brought about its demise through sheer neglect. Still, not one member of the bread-eating family was prepared to say good-bye to fermented bread and just about that same time, with plenty of milk between Mabel and the goats, milk kefir was back up and running in our kitchen.

Milk kefir is probably my favorite fermented food, in case you hadn’t picked that up here on the blog or in Traditionally Fermented Foods. I use it for drinking, salad dressings, desserts, snacks, to ferment whole grains, and to sour breads. It is one of those foods that seem to really encourage gut health, energy, and nourishment so it has become a staple in our home when we are in milk.

So I started making kefir-soured tortillas and these lovely biscuits on a regular basis. They are flaky and tender, tangy and light, with just a bit of a crisp edge as one would want in a biscuit. I ferment them overnight, generally, but you can extend that to a full 24-hour fermentation if you prefer.

kefir-biscuits-2

In the morning I put on a kettle for coffee and the morning milking. I preheat the oven, hand Stewart the milk pail, and then start rolling out these biscuits right on the baking sheet. The biscuits are golden and flaky by the time the cow and goats are milked, the chickens out and fed, and the family gathered around the table. It is at this point I am dishing up homegrown eggs from a cast-iron skillet and sitting down to join them.

Somehow even though I’ve made these over a dozen times this past month, this family of mine still doesn’t seem to be growing tired of them. And the milk kefir appreciation continues…

Kefir-Soured Biscuits

kefir-biscuits-side

Ingredients

Directions

At least 12-24 hours before you wish to bake the biscuits, combine the kefir, bread flour, and softened butter or coconut oil in a medium bowl. Mix all ingredients just until roughly combined and the flour is moistened. Cover and leave to ferment at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a baking sheet generously.

Uncover the fermented dough and sprinkle over the salt and baking powder. Fold the dough over onto itself (and the salt and baking powder) several times, breaking up the dough and kneading until the salt and baking powder seem well distributed.

Transfer the dough right to the greased baking sheet and roll out to 1/2 – 3/4 inch thickness using a rolling pin. Cut the biscuits into squares using a knife or bench scraper or into rounds using a biscuit cutter or narrow-mouth canning ring. Gently gather up any scraps and form a few extra biscuits.

Move the pan to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until deeply golden on the bottom and brown and crisp around the edges. Allow to cool at least five minutes before serving.

For more easy-to-make naturally leavened breads, including a Sourdough Biscuit recipe that uses only sourdough starter as leavening, see Traditionally Fermented Foods.