Friday, November 30, 2018

Dehydrate Your Persimmons For Winter Storage

Dried persimmons make a great snack.

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Fuju Persimmons
We have two Fuju persimmon trees and this year both of them really produced. The thing I love about Fuju persimmons is that you can eat them firm, like an apple or pear. They aren't as good when they get too soft so when that happens, I dehydrate them. Dried persimmons make a wonderful snack.

You can see that we had way too many to eat.
And this is after  we gave lots of them away!
Dehydrating Persimmons
I like to peel mine but many people leave the skin on.
Place the peeled and sliced persimmons on the non-stick teflon dehydrator sheets. If you leave the skin on, you can just cut them horizontally in circles. I like mine peeled and cut into thin wedges as seen in the picture below.

Spread the persimmons on your dehydrator's teflon sheets on the trays. 
Place the trays in your dehydrator. 
We have a 5-tray Excalibur Dehydrator which we really like.

Dehydrating temperature will depend on what's important to you. If you want them to be "raw", and retain their living enzymes, you can dehydrate them at 115 degrees F. This will take 24 hours. You can cut the time if you raise the temperature to 125 or higher.

Dry at 115 to 125 until they are somewhat dry on top and start to pull up from the teflon sheets (about 10 hours). At that point, turn them over, remove the teflon sheets and place the persimmons directly on the mesh sheets. Dry another 10 to 12 hours until they are dry but still a bit pliable. 
Remove when dry but still a bit pliable.

Store in an airtight container.
Serve with an assortment of nuts when guests come. Or put this nut/fruit assortment in your kid's lunchbox or take to work as a midday snack!

A healthy snack.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Crustless Pumpkin Pie - Gluten and Dairy Free
Sweetened By Dates, No Sugar!
Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree In Your Instant Pot

Lighten up your Thanksgiving with only 135 calories of Yum.
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Guilt-Free Dessert
Having to give up gluten and dairy is really tough around the holidays, especially at dessert time. This recipe accommodates gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diets without compromising taste in the slightest. It does, however, contain eggs so it's not appropriate for your vegan guests. 

Besides being incredibly low in calories, (weighing in at only 135 calories per serving, less than half of traditional pumpkin pie), it's super easy to make. 

This recipe starts with home-grown pumpkin cooked in an instant pot, but you can also make it with a can of pumpkin.

We grew three types of pumpkins this year and lots of them (about 40 or more.)

We grew a few dozen Racer pumpkins (in the front) which are good for Halloween. Doug drove around with them in the back of his truck and gave them to the neighborhood kids.
This is a Jarrahdale pumpkin which makes great soup and pie

This is my favorite. It's a Musque de Provence. It's so beautiful.
 I also use this one for soup and pie.

Cook Fresh Pumpkin in your Instant Pot
When you use fresh pumpkin for your pies, the most important thing is to make sure it's not watery. So after cooking it, whether it be in your Instant Pot or steaming it on the stovetop, make sure it's well drained.

You're going to need 2 cups of mashed pumpkin, so start with a pumpkin big enough to do that - about 3 to 4 pounds. This will vary with the density of the pumpkin you are using. The pumpkins I use, pictured above, weigh over 10 pounds so I just cut out a wedge and save the rest for soup or more pie.

Peel and cube your pumpkin and put it in a steamer basket in your Instant Pot with a cup of water. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes with a quick release. It should be fork tender. If not, continue to cook. 

Pumpkin in a steamer basket in the Instant Pot
Scoop the cooked pumpkin into a colander with fine holes. Let it drain until it's very dry. You can help it along by mashing it down gently with a fork or spoon.

Pumpkin draining in a colander over a bowl. 
When it stops draining, it's ready to use in the pie. Measure out 2 cups of mashed, drained pumpkin and set aside.

Roasting is Great Too!
You can easily roast your pumpkin by cutting it in half, putting it on a shallow roasting pan or on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and baking it at 375 degrees F until tender. I like to loosely tent it with aluminum foil. The time will vary with the size of the pumpkin but it cab take 1 to 2 hours or more. The advantage is that it results in a much drier pumpkin than one that is steamed but the disadvantage is the time it takes to cook. You will still have to drain it in a colander to remove any moisture.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
You can buy ready made pumpkin pie spice or make it with a combination of cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Different recipes call for different ratios of these spices and your personal tastes. I use:

5 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons cloves
1/4 teaspoon of allspice

 Most recipes call for more nutmeg and less ginger but I like ginger much more than I like nutmeg. So change the ratios to suite your taste. Mix them all up and store in a spice jar in a cool, dark cabinet. It will last a long time.

         *                       *                          *                          * 

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 8 servings]

Round, 10-inch pie pan

Non-dairy margarine to grease the pan
4 medjool dates*
1 (13.5 oz) can light coconut milk
1 (15 oz) can cooked pumpkin or 2 cups drained and mashed freshly cooked pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon of stevia powder, or to taste
4 pasture raised, organic eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup gluten-free flour**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

* Dates can be replaced with 1/2 cup sugar, but dates are healthier and contain dietary fiber and other nutrients. 
** If you are not sensitive to gluten, you can substitute all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch pie pan and set aside.

Pit the dates and coarsely chop. Pour the coconut milk in a small bowl with the chopped dates and let soak until they soften. If the dates are soft and fresh, this won't take long. If they are hard, it may take several hours. 

Place the coconut milk and soaked dates in a blender and blend until well incorporated.

Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Pour into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie barely jiggles in the middle, is set all the way through, and is brown around the edges.

Remove from the oven (test with a toothpick which should come out clean), and place on a wire rack until cooled completely. Place in the refrigerator to chill before serving.

Serve as is or with a tiny scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream.

Per serving: 135 calories, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 4 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 183 mg sodium.