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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook


    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook


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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook


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    Watermelon Jerky. Trust me on this one.

    So the summer of 2010 is drawing to a close.

    Alas my summer love affair with watermelon is not.

    I'm not the only one in the family who loves watermelon.

    I've been practically obsessed with watermelon these past few months. Keep in mind I've always loved my Watermelon Rind Pickles, but since the weather turned warmer I've been through the Watermelon Agua Fresca phase, the Watermelon Feta Salad (with Kalamata olives added) near-addiction, the Watermelon with Lime Juice & Agave Salad 5 days-in-a-row thing, the Watermelon Jelly experiment, and now, it's Watermelon Jerky. I mean, I was almost over watermelon, and that last one I bought being nearly flavorless didn't help one bit. But then it hit me. If this watermelon didn't have so much "water" in it, it would be much better.

    The flavorless watermelon was bound for the compost bin, but at the last minute I decided to slice it up (about 1/2" - 3/4" thick; it doesn't have to be exact) and stick it in the food dehydrator. I decided to add a couple slices of the "Yellow Doll" watermelon while I was at it, because this particular one didn't taste like much either.

    2 types of Watermelon, ready for the dehydrator

    It was a stroke of genius. Not entirely an original idea, mind you. I had heard people say that once dehydrated, watermelon tastes like candy. An idea I didn't find totally appealing, if you consider the fact that my least favorite Jolly Rancher candy flavor, growing up, was watermelon. Hard to believe, I know, but so far it's only been genuine watermelon, not the artificially-flavored kind that has me in it's clutches.

    24 hours (at 135 degrees) later, Watermelon Jerky.

    Crispy, yet chewy, and not unlike Watermelon Cotton Candy, if such a thing even exists!

    Try it. One bite and you'll be hooked. Last call for watermelons. I think I better run out to the grocery store and stock up, before the Labor Day weekend sales are over.

    Reader Comments (4)

    One more great watermelon experience: I had a salad at the Palmer House in Chicago that was mostly market greens with goat cheese croquette, hazelnuts and olive oil vinaigrette. Hidden underneath the greens, however, was a 1 inch thick round of fresh watermelon the size of the greens. I don't remember knowing in advance that there was watermelon but it was a fabulous combination and experience going through the layers.

    October 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteryour pal Lynn

    Hello, what kind of dehydrator do you use?

    June 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjen

    Sorry I am just seeing this Jen :(

    I use an Excalibur dehydrator, but you can use any type of dehydrator or even dry them in the sun on screens (covered lightly with another screen or netting to protect them from bugs.)

    The time it takes to dry them will vary because all watermelons are different, and the humidity and heat affects the drying time too.

    Just remember that the thickness of the slice will reduce quite a bit since WATERmelons are mostly water ;)

    Let me know how it goes.

    Thank you for taking the time to post; only wish I'd seen this sooner. I suppose there will be plenty of chances to make Watermelon Jerky since it's still early in the summer.


    July 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    I've also noticed that melons that are blah when fresh can dry down to make pretty good watermelon jerky chips. Some flavor components evaporate in the dryer, but whatever remains becomes concentrated in the chips.

    July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrthomas
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