Living in the Willamette Valley is a food lover’s paradise. We have just about everything but tropical plants here, so lots to enjoy. Each summer’s harvests seem to start with strawberries and then on to other fruits before the veggies start producing. So I’ve been dehydrating yummies since the end of May all for your potential future enjoyment.
- Strawberries from this year’s crop. Sweet and yummy.
- Bananas from the grocery store…they LOOKED too far gone by the outer peel but were about 98% usable to dry. So remember that when next time you see “old” bananas marked down!
- Figs from last season soft and chewy.
- Cherries Most are sweet but one or two pie cherries might have snuck in.
- Concord grape fruit leather – okay, I’ll come clean…. I tried to make fruit roll-ups but they didn’t turn out to be rollable…so they were cut into pieces.
- Pears from the start of this year’s harvest.
- Apples dehydrated last fall.
- Cantaloupe is pure candy. Unbelievable how this experience convinced me!
- Raisins from last fall’s Thompson grapes.
- Raspberry fruit leather from this season that also was a fail as a fruit leather but provides that zingy sweetness perfectly.
My husband Graham (Vice President of Research and Development) loves wine. He jokes that the reason we moved to McMinnville was because he heard there was a winery nearby. Now that we’ve been here six years he easily admits how much he has enjoyed visiting and sampling the amazing depth and breadth of the wines offered locally. (I’m the designated driver!)
Graham is also quite devoted to Facebook and has friended many of the local wineries to stay aware of special events. We’ve recently attended free performances and concerts at several near McMinnville.
A few years ago he told me that the owner of EIEIO Winery (a man named McDonald, of course) had posted that his property had a lot of plum trees that had not been cared for and the trees were loaded loaded loaded with ripe fruit. He had purchased the property where his house is located several years before and perhaps for 10 years prior to that the plum trees surrounding the inside of a paddock had been neglected. The plums were very small but very sweet. Anyone who wanted them was invited to contact him and arrange a time to glean.
There were yellow plums. There were red ones. And purple ones. It was an amazing rainbow. We tasted and discovered two things. 1: Yes, they were deliciously sweet. 2: They were cling, not freestone. (We are masters of handling fruits that cling to stones now!)
We got them to the commercial kitchen and into the huge walk-in cooler for the processing the next day. I then went to the post office to send a package and met the owner of Third Street Oil and Vinegar. She presents olive oil and balsamic vinegar infused with flavors and has an amazing talent for taste combinations that work. She tasted the plums and suggested a balsamic vinegar infused with pomegranate.
The next day I made the most perfect jelly. It was my first year in business so I was very proud how it set up and looked so pretty with its deep reddish purple tone. And the taste was great! Sweet and tangy.
Well, we have not been back to EIEIO since then but a friend has been bringing me the wild plums off a tree on her property these past few weeks and I decided to see if we could present the same wonderful tangy sweetness as a fruit leather. And voila! It has been done!
Ingredients are wild plums, a tiny bit of cane sugar and a splash of pomegranate balsamic vinegar. Packaged 4 roll-ups to a bag, selling for $5. No artificial anything and I bet you will not find anything like this anywhere else.
Okay, unlike other foodies, I’m a bit slow in some areas. I knew the tongue could detect sweet, salty, bitter and sour but only a few years ago I heard about umami.
MSG is a flavor ingredient that got a reputation for causing headaches, but what was valued was how it enhanced flavors, particularly in soups and stews.
And now, through the magic of dehydrating foods that are found nearby, Can-Do Real Food is offering Umami Dust! Just a tablespoon of the mix added to your soup, stew, pot roast or other slow-cooked dish will perk up the flavor into a new level of appreciation.
The mix has two main elements. Earthy notes are provided by a mix of crimini, portobello and shitake mushrooms. The essence of the ocean is provided by dulce, a form of seaweed, and sea salt.