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Podcast 351 - Update from Wheaton Lab and Listener Questions Part 2

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Paul, Jocelyn and Fred continue their discussion with Paul’s announcement of Ant village 2017 pricing. They then move on to more listener questions. The first one pertains to what ratio of nitrogen fixers Paul recommends for planting. They talk about the issue of chopped and dropped branches breaking down in a dry climate and they mention their experience at base camp with the enormous berm, mulching and the nitrogen fixers they have in it. They talk about the electric chainsaws and which one has work best.

The next question they answer is about the edibility of siberian pea shrub. Paul’s experience is that they are too hard to eat and he has doubt about its quality as chicken feed.

The last question covered in this podcast is about preserving annuals. Paul, Jocelyn and Fred talk about canning, freezing, fermentation, and dehydration. Fred talks about his plan to try root cellaring in a clamp.

Relevant Threads

ant village 2017
giant hugelkultur at basecamp
siberian pea shrub
Electric chainsaw
best way to store potatos,onions and garlic?

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Nice.  Regarding salsa, and long boil times:  the explanation I have read is that the fear is of botulism.  Tomatoes alone are acidic enough that it is not a worry - and if you are canning tomatoes or pure tomato sauce, you use a shorter waterbath canning time.  Salsa, however, has other stuff - onions, peppers, etc, which are not acidic.  Depending on the ratios, the overall salsa might not be acidic enough to inhibit the botulism spores.
  I have a recipe for garden salsa, from small batch preserving, which uses a precise ratio of tomatoes to other stuff, and adds a bit of vinegar as insurance.  It can be canned with a shorter waterbath time as long as you follow the ratios precisely.
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On the same topic - preserving annual veggies - I noticed that they discussed freezing vs fermenting vs canning, but paid short shrift to drying.  Drying seems one of the easiest and least expensive options.  A solar dehydrator need not use any power to run, and in dry climates even that is likely unnecessary: most foods can be dried in the sun and wind.  Once dried, seal it up in a jar and store it somewhere dark and cool and, unlike frozen foods, it is good for months or years without any added energy.

They did mention drying nettles and making kale chips.  Both very good options.  And they mentioned shell peas and shell beans that "dry themselves" if left to fully ripen and dry up in the pod.

But in addition, there are sun-dried tomatoes.  Need I say more?  Delicious!  And, of course, any thin-fleshed pepper is easy enough to dry.  For thicker peppers, you can try smoking them, as the Mexicans do with jalapenos, which are too fleshy to dry reliably, thus producing chipotles!

You can dehydrate okra pods.  I had "okra chips" once, and they were delicious!  The man who sold them explained that you dehydrate the pods, then toss them with oil and a little flour (maybe it was straight starch) and salt and then bake them crispy.  I have not yet tried to reproduce these yummy little finger-foods, but I don't see why you couldn't stop after the drying step and store them for a while before proceeding with the rest of the process.  Or chuck the dried pods straight into some soup or stew.

Also, you have “leather britches.”  This is what the old time Appalachian farmers called green beans allowed to grow till the pods were pretty well filled out, then picked, strung up on fishing line, and dried.  Later they’d be reconstituted by boiling the hell out of them with some fatback.  Apparently it produced a unique taste, though I’m sorry to say I can’t comment on that from any personal experience.
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