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.
I know a couple from church who own a commercial strawberry farm about 10 miles from my house. He has about 30 acres of strawberries and arranges for pickers to come in to fill his contract with a company that uses his strawberries for their product. After they finish, he notifies the church we are free to come in and pick whatever we want. Essentially, glean.
Last year Graham and I picked about 20 pounds and made a huge batch of strawberry syrup to be used at the church’s Saturday Morning Breakfast. It was received enthusiastically by the patrons and ran out pretty quickly.
This year Graham, Jana and I worked for about two hours and managed to get 54.5 pounds. They are now in the freezer at the church to start the syrup process when we go back in on Monday.
These strawberries will not be used for Can-Do Real Food products as we try to only use produce that has been raised without sprays. There are a lot of reasons why a farmer chooses to use pesticides and herbicides. There are also many reasons why others choose not to.
I made a decision about five years ago that my personal eating will avoid those chemical applications to the food I eat and I think about 85% of our diet comes from farmers we personally know.
However, these strawberries are food and available and Can-Do Real Food has a driving mission to reduce food waste. Making the syrup for the Saturday Morning Breakfast at McMinnville’s Cooperative Ministries is about the best WIN-WIN I can imagine.
And whenever I spend time harvesting, I understand how back breaking this work is. We should never look at any of our food without thanking the farmers who made it possible for us to eat. I am not a good farm worker, nor a clean one.