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May 22, 2019

9 Ways to Preserve Eggs

How to Preserve Eggs
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

It's the time of year when every chicken keeper begins wondering "What am I going to do with all these eggs?" If you've had your fill of scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, quiches, meringues, custards, and other egg-laden dishes, here are nine ways to preserve those eggs for later use. After all, just as spring is the season of egg glut, winter is the season of egg famine. Wouldn't it be great to have preserved eggs for those times when your hens aren't laying well?

First, a Note about Egg Condition

Before we delve into how to preserve eggs, it's important to understand that only eggs with intact shells should be stored long term. Any cracks, chips, or holes in the eggs allow bacteria to get inside, compromising the safety of the food. In other words: Such eggs could make you very, very sick.

If I find damaged eggs in our hens' nesting boxes, I typically feed them immediately to our dog. Cooked right away, and cooked thoroughly, they are probably safe for human consumption, but I cannot recommend that practice.

In addition, when preserving eggs, it's always best to keep each egg's "bloom" - that is, the natural protective coating on the outside of the egg shell. This is removed if you wash the eggs. Therefore, really dirty eggs are best consumed right away, or preserved only by freezing. Lightly dirty eggs may be preserved by first gently scraping them with a fingernail or brush to remove light soiling.

Unwashed eggs last a long time in the fridge.
Preserving Eggs in the Refrigerator (6 months - 1 year)

While it's true that unwashed eggs store safely on the counter, they last considerably longer - at least 6 months - if you refrigerate them. (Store bought eggs, which are washed with a chlorine solution, don't last as long. Read more about why I don't wash our homestead eggs, here.)

Personally, I like to store our hens' eggs in 18-count cardboard egg cartons. Mine are saved from back in the days before we had a homestead flock and I was still buying eggs at the grocery store; sometimes family members gift me their cardboard egg cartons, too. You can also buy unused cartons at feed stores or online. These containers last a long time - and when they finally do start falling apart, they compost well. Other options include plastic containers designed for storing eggs in the fridge.

To extend storage length, be sure to store eggs pointy end down. The reason for this is that there is an air pocket at the fat end of every egg. This pocket helps protect the yolk (which is more susceptible than the white of the egg) from bacteria. When eggs sit pointy end up, the air - and any bacteria in the egg - will rise, making the egg go bad more quickly. Also remember that washing eggs before refrigerating them may make them go bad more quickly; I only store unwashed eggs in our fridge.

I stack my cartons, oldest eggs on top, so I know which to use first. You may also wish to date each carton. When I'm ready to use eggs, if I have any question at all about their age, I do a simple water test to make sure they are perfectly safe to eat. (Click here to see how.)

Pros: Quick and easy; eggs can be used fresh; eggs last at least 6 months.

Cons: Takes up space in the refrigerator; requires electricity.

First, whip egg yolks and whites together.
Preserving Eggs in the Freezer (1 - 2 years)

Freezing extra eggs is another easy preservation method. Once thawed, frozen eggs can be used exactly like fresh eggs. To properly freeze eggs:

1. Break open one egg at a time and pour the contents into a bowl. Whip to mix, using an immersion blender (I use this one), a whisk, or a fork.

2. Frozen eggs can feel gritty once thawed. To help prevent that, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every egg. (You may also use 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for every egg, but really, the last thing our society needs is more sugar, right?)

3. Pour the whipped eggs into the cups of an ice cube tray or silicone mold. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer-proof, airtight container, like a Ziplock or vacuum sealer bag. If you put the frozen eggs in a single layer and vacuum seal them, the eggs will take up very little space and will stay good for a year or two. Or you can just pop them in a freezer bag without vacuum sealing and use them within a year.
In most cases, a frozen cube equals about 1 egg.
Ice cube trays vary, so if you think you'll need to know exactly how much frozen egg equals a fresh egg (say, if you plan to bake with them), test your trays: Whip up a single egg and pour it into one hole in your ice cube tray. If the egg fills the one hole, one cube equals one egg.

Before using the eggs, be sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator.

Pros: Quick and easy method; eggs can be used like fresh; eggs store up to a year (without vacuum sealing) or two (with vacuum sealing).

Cons: Salt or sugar should be added for best quality; must wait for eggs to thaw before using; takes up freezer space; requires electricity; loss of electricity will make eggs go bad.

Preserving Eggs by Dehydrating (up to 1 year)
Dehydrating eggs at home.

Back in 2012, I learned many people were dehydrating eggs in electric food dehydrators. Not knowing this was a safety concern, I tried it. It was a complete flop. Not only were my dehydrated eggs terrible for baking (never giving the rise fresh eggs do), but they tasted awful when I rehydrated and scrambled them.

But the biggest reason to not dehydrate eggs at home is that the process may not kill salmonella or other, similar bacterias. In other words, it's not a perfectly safe preservation method. (Some people argue that as long as you cook the raw, re-hydrated eggs to 160 degrees F., they are safe to consume. But there are risks in handling and cross-contamination to consider, too.)
Dehydrated eggs aren't safe - or tasty.

In order to circumvent the bacteria issue, I also tried thoroughly cooking the eggs before dehydrating them. Because fat goes rancid in dehydrated products, it was necessary to cook them without any fat in a Teflon pan. (Click here to learn why Teflon is a bad idea.) I found the resulting dehydrated eggs had little flavor. In fact, they were just gross.

If you want to know the process, see The Prairie Homestead's post on the topic. In my experience, there are better - and safer - ways to preserve eggs.

Pros: None.

Cons: Not a safe preservation method; poor quality; requires electricity.

Preserving Eggs by Freeze Drying (20 - 25 years)

Freeze-dried eggs are the longest-lasting.

When you purchase dried eggs at the store, they are actually freeze dried, not dehydrated. (Click here to learn what the difference between the two is.) Freeze dryings is the only way to safely dry eggs at home.

For the cost of a refrigerator, we now have a home freeze dryer on our homestead - and I find I'm constantly using it to preserve eggs. (Please note: Harvest Right is currently the only manufacturer of consumer grade freeze dryers.) Here's how I do it:

1. Each of Harvest Right's medium freeze dryer trays easily holds about 12 eggs. Begin by whipping up one tray's worth of eggs. It's best to use an immersion blender for this job; if you don't get the whites and yolks blended well, the eggs may "burst" in the freeze dryer, causing a big mess.

2. Pour the blended eggs into one freezer dryer tray. To do this without spilling, I recommend putting the tray on a shelf in your regular freezer (like the one attatched to your fridge - not the freeze dryer itself), then pouring the prepared eggs into it. Slowly and carefully slide the tray back in your freezer. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the remaining trays.

3. Allow the eggs to harden in the freezer; in the meantime, turn on the freeze dryer for about a half hour. (This allows the chamber to get good and cold so that when you insert trays of frozen food, they won't thaw.)

4. Transfer the trays of eggs to the freeze dryer. (You can just pop the trays immediately into the freeze dryer, without pre-freezing in your freezer, but you'll likely spill eggs in the Harvest Right, since it is designed to not sit level.)
Raw eggs going into the freeze dryer.
4. Run the eggs through the freeze dryer until completely dry and warm to the touch. Transfer to mylar bags, add an oxygen absorber, and seal the bags.
Eggs come out foam-like. Before cooking, powder and rehydrate with water.

Stored this way in a cool, dry location, the eggs should last 20 - 25 years. After rehydrating, use these eggs just like you would fresh. To rehydrate: Mix 2 tablespoons freeze dried egg (crumbled into a powder before measuring) with 2 tablespoons of water. If you'll be scrambling the eggs, add a little extra water (or milk or cream) to allow for evaporation.

It's also fine to cook the eggs (for example, scramble them) and then freeze dry them. Because they will contain some cooking fat, they probably won't last as long on the shelf. Most people agree they don't taste quite as good when they are cooked first, but they do make for a super-easy meal.

Pros: Easy method with little hands-on time; can use the eggs like fresh; can make a quick dish by just adding water; lasts up to 25 years.

Cons: Requires mylar bags and oxygen absorbers; requires electricity.

Preserving Eggs in Mineral Oil (6 months - 1 year)

Coating eggs in mineral oil.

This is a traditional method, but one that's been studied scientifically, and is still used on about 10% of store bought eggs (after the eggs have been washed - often in chlorine). To preserve eggs in this way, you will need food grade mineral oil (found online or in pharmacies).

I also recommend using gloves during this procedure because mineral oil is a petroleum byproduct and a known endocrine disruptor that raises estrogen levels in our bodies. This, in turn, is linked to cancer and many other health problems. Does the mineral oil seep into the egg itself? I've been unable to find an answer to that question. However, literature widely says chicken eggs are semipermeable, meaning moisture can pass through the shell. Will the oil pass through each egg's membrane? I honestly don't know. You'll have to decide.

In addition, it's important to note that this method of preservation works best on freshly laid eggs - ideally, eggs no more than 24 hours old.

1. Warm 1/4 cup of food grade mineral oil in a nonreactive pan and don some gloves.

2. Dab warmed mineral oil on your hands and pick up an egg. Cover the entire surface of the egg with mineral oil; it doesn't matter if the coating is thick or thin.

3. Place the egg in an egg carton, pointed end down.

4. Repeat until you've covered all the eggs (1/4 cup of mineral oil will cover 4 - 6 dozen eggs), then store the egg carton in a cool, dry location (like a cold cellar or garage) where the temperature stays 68 degrees F. or less (but is always above freezing). If the temperature gets warmer than that, the eggs won't last but a few weeks. You may also store the cartons in the refrigerator, the mineral oil extending the life of the eggs even longer than if stored without a mineral coating.

5. Flip the eggs over once a month. You cannot skip this step! However, to make it easier, you may simply (and carefully) turn over each egg carton.

Before using mineral coated eggs, be sure to conduct a water test to make sure they aren't bad.

By the way, a common question about this method is whether or not a different type of oil may be used. The answer is no. Other food safe oils will go rancid.

Pros: No electricity needed; eggs can be used like fresh; eggs last up to a year.

Cons: Mineral oil should be used with caution; may be unhealthy (although the FDA allows it on commercially sold eggs); requires rotating the eggs once a month.

Preserving Eggs in Water Glass (up to 5 months)

This was a common preservation method in the 19th century, said to keep eggs good for up to five months. Most people today have never heard of water glass, or its scientific name, sodium silicate (a naturally occurring mineral). Unfortunately, this chemical can cause serious breathing and lung issues if inhaled, can burn the digestive tract if consumed, and can burn the skin and eyes upon contact.

Again, I question whether sodium silicate seeps into eggs during storage; I feel there are better ways to preserve eggs. For instructions on how to water glass eggs, see this article.

Before using water glass eggs, conduct a water test to make sure the eggs aren't bad.

Pros: No electricity required; can use eggs like fresh.

Cons: Must be handled carefully; may be toxic.

Preserving Eggs in Slaked Lime (6 months - 1 year)
This is another old method, using calcium hydroxide (which is created when calcium oxide - a.k.a. lime) is mixed (i.e. "slaked") with water. For directions, click here.

Do note that food grade lime is potentially dangerous stuff. It's toxic when consumed in quantity, may cause skin and eye burns, and leads to life-threatening conditions if inhaled. Personally, I'm not comfortable with that in or around my food, even knowing that for decades, calcium hydroxide was used to crisp pickles.

Before using eggs in unslacked lime, conduct a water test to make sure they aren't bad.

Pros: No electricity needed; can use eggs like fresh.

Cons: Must be handled carefully; can be toxic.

Preserving Eggs by Pickling (4 months)
Pickled eggs, courtesy Green Mountain Girls Farm.
It's a myth that it's safe to can eggs - even pickled and canned eggs - at home. The truth is, canning eggs opens people up to botulism. (To learn more, see this CDC report.) So why can you buy canned pickled eggs at the grocery store? Because commercial canneries have different equipment and therefore different abilities than home canners.

That said, making pickled eggs to store in the fridge may extend the eggs' life a wee bit.

1. Hardboil the eggs using your favorite method. (What I do: Using a pin or sewing needle, poke one hole in the fat end of each egg; this makes fresh eggs easy to peel. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of a 6 qt. Instant Pot. Place a steamer basket inside the Pot, and stack eggs atop it. Steam for 5 minutes. Let the IP reduce pressure naturally for 4 minutes, then quick release and plunge eggs into cold water. Cool completely in the fridge before peeling.)

2. Peel each egg and place it in a freshly washed canning jar.

3. Choose a brine from The National Center for Home Food Preservation's website. Heat the brine to boiling, then simmer 5 minutes.

4. Pour the brine over the eggs, completely covering them. The eggs must be completely submerged in the brine to remain safe. (A quart-sized jar holds about a dozen eggs.)

5. Let the eggs sit in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks, so they can take on the flavors in the brine. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends eating home pickled eggs within four months.

Pros: Unique taste.

Cons: Uses up refrigerator space; requires electricity.

Preserving Egg Yolks in Salt (4 weeks)
Salt cured egg, courtesy of Practical Self Reliance.

This very old method is similar to curing meat. In it, high amounts of salt inhibit bacterial growth so that other (good) bacteria can release lactic acid (lactobacillus). This method has become all the rage lately, but it's really more about a gourmet treat than storing eggs long term. Once cured, salted eggs should be eaten within four weeks, and for optimal safety, should be stored in the refrigerator. For details on how to salt eggs, see Practical Self Reliance's excellent how-to.

Pros: A gourmet treat.

Cons: Takes up room in the refrigerator; requires electricity to be safest.

This post featured at the Farm Fresh Tuesday Blog Hop.

Feb 8, 2019

Weekend Links

We have snow!
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. "
James 1:17
* We finally got our share of the snow! Oh, it's nothing compared to what some of you are getting, but four inches of snow is a BIG DEAL where I live! My kids love it, of course, but I confess I'm having the best time watching the animals react. Our two male cats keep trying to come inside. (And yes, they have plenty of warm, cozy places to stay that are not our house.) Our female cat, ever the huntress, just sees it as a grand opportunity to find new prey. Our youngest hens have never seen snow before and they keep hopping around the snowy part of the chicken run. The older ladies hardly seem to notice the snow. And the rooster? He'd rather stay in the hen house all day. Most fun is the dog. He loves snow! He goes outside and plays all day and when he gets tired, he sits in the snow to rest. No way, no how is he coming in until we make him!

* Thank you to everyone who picked up a copy of The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book! It was #1 in Herbal Medicine and Alternative Medicine and #7 in Health on Amazon and has all 5-star reviews. Now I'm hoping you will all GO LEAVE A REVIEW! Hahaha! But reviews make all the difference in Amazon helping new readers find books! By the way, I also started a Facebook group that's entirely devoted to using dandelions as food and medicine. Join us!

* While the kittens were recovering from their spay and neuter, they lived in my canning kitchen. And since they got into and on everything, it was too unsanitary to use for food preservation. Now they are healed and living outside, so I fired up my canner and freeze dryer. First, I tackled some meat in the freezer. Around Christmastime, I bought ham and turkey for 99 cents a pound - about as cheap as they get around here. I cooked the ham and we ate two meals off it, then I made ham stock and canned it, along with some ham meat. Then my husband smoked the turkey, we ate two meals off it, I canned stock from the bones, and I freeze dried the rest of the meat. When reconstituted, it tastes just like it would fresh out of the smoker!

The turkey before freeze drying...
and the turkey after freeze drying.

I also had about 80 eggs from our hens in the fridge, so I decided to try freeze drying them. I whipped the eggs to combine the yolks and whites and popped them into the machine. Now they are shelf stable for over 20 years and can be used to cook scrambled eggs, or for baking. I love my freeze dryer! (Learn more about it here.)
Eggs going into the freeze dryer...
and eggs coming out of the freeze dryer.
* I recently finished this novel, Between Two Shores, by one of my favorite modern novelists, Jocelyn Green. It's a straight historical (not a romance) and I LOVED it! Totally refreshing and so moving, too. I highly recommend it.

* Recall on peaches, nectarines, and plums. 

* Tyson chicken nugget recall.

* Are measles making a come-back where you live? Do you know the signs and symptoms of measles? 

* This will be controversial, but it's worth reading. Why getting the measles vaccine may help prevent other childhood diseases.

* The beauty of God's creation is highlighted in these microscopic images of seeds.

* Love pickles? Then you probably should try dehydrated pickle chips!

* How to make garden fertilizer with comfrey "tea." 

* 6 fruit crops you can propagate from cuttings.

Oldies But Goodies:

* Foraging for Chickweed

* Why & How to Prune Blueberries for a Better Harvest
* Why I Don't Watch HGTV (and Maybe You Shouldn't Either)

Nov 16, 2018

Weekend Links & Updates

A bear footprint I recently discovered on the homestead. This is just a baby!
In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 


I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Phillipians 4:12-13


November is a significant month. Not only do we have Thanksgiving coming up (click here for my Thanksgiving posts), but it's also when we note two other important-to-me events: World Diabetes Day and Prematurity Awareness month.

Did you know my first child was born during my second trimester? She was supposed to be a Thanksgiving baby, but instead was born in early August. You can read all about that journey here, but here's the short version: We don't know why she was premature, but several times we came very close to losing her. (Prematurity is the leading cause of death in infants.) She spent four months in the NICU, and then many more months in physical and feeding therapy. (Yes, many preemies have to be coached to eat!) I hope and pray you never experience being the parent of a preemie, but I also hope and pray you will heartily support those who are. Trouble is, most people can't even fathom what that's like to live through and have NO IDEA what to do to help. So years ago, I wrote this short little piece on helping parents of preemies. I hope you'll read it.

Diabetes is also worthy of your attention. Experts say 8.1 million people have it and don't know it. Unfortunately, I'm convinced I was one of them. To learn some of the less common symptoms of diabetes, please read this post: 11 Ways We Should Have Known I Had Diabetes. I also hope that instead of following the American Diabetes Association's advice on how to treat your pre-diabetes or diabetes, you'll take a hard look at the facts and realize that way of eating only progresses the disease...which, by the way, ends in painful complications that often lead to dismemberment or death. (Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death among American adults.)  Fortunately, my doctor told me to eat keto, which put my blood sugar back into the normal range. Many thousands of type 2 diabetics have also reversed their blood sugars to normal by eating this way, and type 1s use it to lower their need for insulin injections. For more information, please read Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution (written by a type 1 doctor) and my post How I Reversed My Diabetes.

My diabetic journey has been a little more complicated than some people's...perhaps because I went undiagnosed for many years. Just recently, for example, caffeine began spiking my blood sugar. Though this is a real and true bummer, I also know that no food or drink is worth the horrible consequences of high blood sugar. It is SO DOABLE to treat your diabetes with food!

* On a lighter note, I suddenly realized I haven't introduced you to our new barn kittens: Neko and Holly. They are the sweetest things ever. Best part? Our 100 lb. English shepherd adores them...and they adore him!

   Asparagus recall due to Listeria. 
* Asparagus recall due to Listeria.

* Duncan Hines cake mix recall due to salmonella. 

* Free Thanksgiving Mad Libs printable.

* This is SO good! 9 Hard Truths to Fuel a Godly Marriage.

* Code word prevents child abduction in Arizona. 

* There's an awful lot of hype out there about tumeric. Here is a more rational article about what it might do for your health.

* An easy way to grow salad greens all year long...even without a garden.

* I'm seeing a lot of questions about canning game right now, but it's the same as canning any other meat. Treat deer and de-fatted bear like beef and rabbit like chicken. Here are all the details. 

* A GMO potato creator warns against GMOs.

* I taught my firstborn cursive using the Cursive First curriculum. But while I felt my second child was finally ready to learn cursive this year, we really didn't have the money to spend on curriculum. So I've been using the totally FREE cursive worksheets over at Kidzone. I think they are just as good!

* Sunshine helps kill germs, scientists say.

Oldies But Goodies:

* DIY Pumpkin Puree
* How to Roast Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
* Garden Like a Pilgrim
* What We Can Learn from the Pilgrims
* 20 Ways to Save Money this Christmas

Apr 16, 2018

Why I Bought a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

Why I Bought a Harvest Right Home Freeze Drying Machine
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Well, I did it. I pushed the button on a home freeze dryer. I can hardly believe it - but I feel great about the decision! Yes, it's a little bit of an investment, but I have some specific reasons for adding the machine to our homestead.

Why a Home Freeze Dryer?

First, let me briefly explain how freeze drying is different from dehydrating. Both processes zap moisture out of food, making it suitable for storage without refrigeration or freezing. But freeze-dried food is a superior process that allows food to last for 20 years or more. It also doesn't shrivel the food or change its texture. (I will explain in detail the differences between dehydrated and freeze dried food in a future post.)

One of the most common reasons consumers are willing to spend a chunk of cash on a home freeze dryer is that they believe the federal government when it says every citizen should keep at least 3 weeks of food in storage, in case of emergencies. Yes, you can do this with store bought canned food, home canned food, home dehydrated food, or store bought freeze-dried food. But home freeze drying has distinct advantages.

* Freeze dried food takes up very little space. The same amount of food that would require a large shelving unit if you used home canning jars, or an entire freezer if the food was frozen, fits in a small box if freeze-dried.

* You don't have to worry about freeze-dried food going past an expiration date. It's good for at least 20 - 25 years - and since most of us rotate the food in our pantry, we can feel assured the food isn't going to go bad on us.

* Freeze dried food is less susceptible to damage during an emergency. In an earthquake, canning jars break. During a power outage, food in a freezer goes bad. Flooding ruins dehydrated food. But freeze-dried food in sealed bags is unlikely to suffer much.

* Freeze drying retains more of the food's nutritional value than any other long-term preservation method - 95% of its nutrients remain intact. Dehydrating and canning can't boast that.
What the medium-size freeze dryer looks like set up on our homestead.

However, store bought freeze dried food is expensive! Cheap 1-serving meal packets are at least $5 each, and more decent-tasting single servings are upwards of $9-10 each.

And, typically, commercially freeze-dried food isn't very healthy. Look in a camping store, at Amazon, in the food storage sections of Walmart or Costco, or at a manufacturer's'll see most freeze-dried food is packed with preservatives and other questionable ingredients, like soy. (Valley Food Storage offers the healthiest freeze dried food I've ever seen...and it's tasty, too! Read my review of their product here.)

My Reasons for Buying a Home Freeze Dryer

I've never been one to buy freeze dried food. I'm too frugal, and I always figured a combination of my home canned and homegrown food served my family well.

However, when I discovered I was diabetic and could reverse my blood sugar to normal by eating a keto diet, I had to question my former rationale. If for some reason I couldn't get food at the grocery store, what would I do? At first I thought: I'll just get sick...and if the situation lasts long enough, I'll die. I was okay with that...Then I considered what a burden this would be on my family. So what could I do to store a little keto food for emergencies?

I could dehydrate a few things. For example, I could home dehydrate jerky, low carb fruits, and low carb veggies. But homemade jerky without preservatives doesn't last long unless it's frozen...and frozen food is only good for maybe a year. And what if the power goes out and we lose all the food stored in the freezer? In addition, home dehydrated fruits and veggies only last a year or two. Plus, I'm personally not a big fan of dehydrated vegetables.

Our first batch came out wonderfully!
I could can some things. Meat is easy to can and lasts for as long as the seal on the jar stays good. I like canned meat, but if it was my main food source, I know I'd quickly tire of the texture and taste. I honestly don't like eating canned veggies. And what about my natural fats - the food that keeps me full and fueled? (On a keto diet, your body burns fat as fuel, instead of carbohydrates.) I'd have to trim all the fat off meat in order to can it safely - and it's not safe to can or dehydrate fatty things like dairy. Plus, they are predicting "the big earthquake" in my area. This could easily destroy all or most of my home canned food. (Click here for tips on protecting canning jars from earthquakes.)

I could buy freeze dried food, even though it's expensive. But trying to find keto-friendly options? Ugh! Pretty much impossible.

And yes, I'd still have my garden (barring a fire or flood or some other devastating problem) and in the future, we hope to have more animals that feed us. But what if it's a bad growing year? Or something destroys the crops? Or animals aren't producing the way we'd hoped? This kind of thing happens more often than most of us want to admit.

For me, the answer was purchasing a home freeze dryer. (Incidentally, only one company sells home-use freeze dryers: Harvest Right.) In it, I can preserve any vegetable, any meat, and many dairy products. In other words, I can create keto-friendly meals and foods in an easy to store package that's less susceptible to disasters. A win!

Other Uses for My Freeze Dryer

Once I made the decision to buy a home freeze dryer (a machine that, incidentally, cost about the same as the midline refrigerator we bought upon moving to our new homestead), I felt pretty excited. I realized that not only can I preserve food for my personal health, but I may end up doing more freeze-drying than other forms of food preservation. Here's why:

Our freeze dried green beans.
1. Freeze drying is a lot less work than canning. I love canning; I really do! But it's a lot of work to prep the food, heat it, put it in jars, monitor the canner, remove it from the canner, and get another batch going. With freeze-drying, you pop prepped food into the machine, check it once or twice, and then remove the food and seal it in a jar or bag. With canning, you have to be present through the entire process...and it can be exhausting. With freeze-drying, you can do other things while the machine is doing the work.

2. With my various health issues, I'm finding I'm way more fatigued than I wish I was. What if the fruit from our orchard is on, and I just don't have the energy to can it? Even without much energy, I can pop some fruit in the freeze dryer. I might even coach my kids to do the work - whereas there's no way they can safely can.

3. I love that freeze-dried food takes up so little storage space! I already mentioned this, but it's a big deal when you live in a small house like ours. I plan to put my home freeze-dried food into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, then put those bags in plastic storage tubs to prevent the food from being crushed.

Our freeze dried cauliflower.
4. There's the possibility of using the freeze dryer to make money on the homestead. For example, I could freeze dry dog and cat treats and sell them. Or I could start a business drying bridal bouquets. Or I could dry other flowers to sell at craft fairs. I might even freeze dry and sell people food. (Check with your state's cottage food laws to see what is and is not allowed, and whether a licence is necessary.)

5. Freeze drying prevents food waste. It's true we don't often have leftovers around here. (Seriously, my kids need to get jobs to pay for the enormous amounts of food they eat! Ha!) But when I do have leftovers, I can pop them in the freeze dryer and know they won't spoil.

6. Freeze drying will be the bomb for medicinal herbs. Since freeze drying retains almost all the nutrients and properties of fresh food, I think it will be an outstanding choice for perserving the medicinal qualities of herbs.

How the First Batch Turned Out
Our freeze dried peaches.

Once our freeze dryer arrived and we set it up, I threw in a batch as soon as possible, wanting to immediately test the machine for any issues that might arise. On the off chance that the food didn't "turn out," I chose mostly pre-frozen food, which is cheap and already prepped. My first batch contained frozen green beans, frozen cauliflower, fresh strawberry slices, and (for my hubby) frozen peach slices.
Our freeze dried strawberries.

We were delighted with the end results! First, we tried everything without rehydrating it. The green beans and cauliflower were very good. (I think they'd be amazing properly seasoned and eaten without rehydrating - a tasty, healthy, crunchy snack!) And the peaches and (especially) the strawberries got gobbled up the same day.

We also rehydrated a portion of each food. Everything tasted fresh once we allow it to absorb some water. Amazing!

Expect More

I'm excited about the possibilities here, so as I learn the freeze-drying ropes, I intend to keep you up to date on my difficulties and successes. Keep an eye out for more freeze drying posts!

Learn more about Harvest Right freeze dryers here. 

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Jul 1, 2017

Weekend Links

Still waiting for the contractor to start re-roofing my canning kitchen!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,  the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:28-31

* I just returned from an out of state trip to visit my Dad, and am busy trying to catch up on homesteading, home keeping, and blogging chores. Forgive me if I take a little time to catch up!

* It's official! Duck eggs do NOT raise my blood sugar the way chicken eggs do...and they don't seem to upset my tummy, either. So now my 11 year old daughter is saying: "Does that mean I can get some pet ducks now???"

* Once, you could walk onto our front porch, easily look into the bathroom window, and see a person sitting on the toilet! Bad layout. But this inexpensive window cling easily took care of the problem...and it looks pretty, too! I recommend it.

* No one likes to look like a city slicker when they live in a rural area. But for months, the kids and I have been looking for tadpoles to scoop into fish tanks so we can watch them turn into frogs. A couple of weeks ago, we were excited when we saw some in the greenhouse water tank. I'm glad we didn't put them in tanks in the house, though, because my hubby later informed me they aren't tadpoles...they are mosquito larvae. He thought it was cute that I didn't know this...

* Recall on dog raw hides.

* Recall of almond butter due to possible listeria.

* Respecting Your Husband the Proverbs 31 Way.

* Some interesting insights into what makes teens rebel.

* Lately I've noticed Netflix has some questionable titles readily available to anyone browsing their offerings. Even just the "covers" for the shows are not something I want my kids to see. If you're concerned about this, too, Our Good Life has instructions on how to block Netflix shows so your kids can't find them.* Here's a fun, free summer activity for kids: Playing Bible detectives!

* Did you know I have a free children's chapter book all about time traveling to the days of the dinosaurs in order to learn about creationism? It's action-packed and fun, and perfect for summer reading! 

* More fun ideas for summer fun.

* With wild berries beginning to come on, now is a great time to start foraging! Even city dwellers can forage.

* Tick bites can lead to  meat allergies. It's true!

* These look good! Crispy Green Bean Chips.

* I recently joined a Facebook canning group...and oh my goodness! People get tossed out for mentioning botulism or suggesting a certain canning practice isn't safe. The things these people are doing are shocking. There's a lot of "My granny did it and she didn't die." Um, yeah, that's like saying "I drive home drunk every night and I've never gotten into an accident." There are many reasons Granny didn't die - mainly because she boiled the heck out of her canned food before she ate it. She also stored it in a fridge-like setting (a cellar or something similar). And she took for granted that spring time (as the last of the canned food was consumed) was a time of sickness, not realizing her home canned foods were making her ill. Please. No food you want to home can is worth making someone ill or killing them. Period. Learn more here.

* In my day, I've used a lot of manure. In the garden, that is. But by far my favorite is rabbit manure. I love it because you don't have to wait for it to age before using it, and because it makes plants grow abundantly! Don't have your own rabbits? Sometimes you can find rabbit owners who are willing to give away or sell their bunnies' pellets. Here's more on using rabbit manure in the garden.

Oldies But Goodies:

* Preserving Herbs with Salt
* Tips for Keeping the House Cool in Summer
* An EASY Way to Make Your Own Butter
* Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
* Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

Feb 11, 2017

Weekend Links & Updates

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Deuteronomy 31:6

It's been very windy. Our large, main living windows often flex in the wind. A little scary! So sometimes I put tape across them...just in case.

* Happily, my blood sugar is now regularly in the 80s and 90s - normal. And I've lost 18 lbs. since going on this super-low carb keto diet right before Christmas. Yay!

* Another pet food recall.

* Have you seen Ball's new spiral canning jars? Pretty! I think they'd be great for gifts.

* Do You Truly Cherish Your Husband?

* Dealing with Sibling Fighting and Rudeness. 

* The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Your Child's Behavior Just Got Stronger.

* How to Adopt for (Almost) Free.

* How to prepare a home inventory, in case of fire or other disaster.

* Want to make your own natural cleaning products? Here's a great resource for getting started.

* Spring is nearly here, and with spring, come nettles - a natural, free superfood. 

* How tending a garden is good for your health. 

* How to prune blueberries for a larger harvest.  

* Have you seen the crazy news story about feeding cattle Skittles? It's true! And they've been doing it for years. Poor qualify feed = poor quality meat. 

* First GMO apple going on sale.

Oldies But Goodies

* How to tell if old seeds are still good.

* How to lead your children to Christ - with a free lesson plan.

* Keeping your marriage spark on Valentine's Day and every day.

* Make your own seasoning mixes to save money and eat more healthy.