Sunday, July 23, 2017

Free Summer Dehydrator & Artichoke Tea - Connecting Every Little Bit

We've been known in these parts to kombucha anything that makes sense in our crazy heads. When you consider tea as something dried, flavorful and complex to be steeped, it's not that far afield to play with an alternative.

Artichoke Scrap Kombucha
I always find myself hanging out with with friends prepping for service. This often puts me in a position to take note of the odds and ends that often end up in the compost. Sometimes there are quality ingredients that have real potential that only require a little experimentation to unlock the beauty.

Artichoke Scraps Before Drying
In this case, Ian was breaking down a ton of artichokes for the hearts. As I watched him mound up the pile of leaves and stem bits, I wondered if I could make a tea with it. I asked him if I could have some. His look quickly switched from 'huh, that's weird' to 'oh yeah, it's you...'. He was more than happy to oblige. So off I went with a big bag of thistle scraps to play with.

Sun Dried Artichoke Scrap Tea
When I got them back to the kitchen, they needed to be dried to concentrate the flavor for tea. I decided to set them out in the sun on a cooling rack. In total, it took a couple days of catching rays. The only trouble I had was the rainy spell in between that delayed the process.

Car "Greenhouse" Sun Dried Sassafras
Within the same time span, I foraged some sassafras while I was visiting Eva. I left the branches in the back seat of my car on a sunny day and found the leaves completely dried out. We've all noticed this effect one way or another, likely undesirable. In the summer here, the cabin of your car is a greenhouse. Also consider that running the A/C dehumidifies as well. A free sun powered dehydrator!

At the end of the day, preparing and preserving ingredients is all about using what's available. More often than not, there are resources at your fingertips that don't require special tools or equipment to achieve what you desire. Sometimes all it takes is a little thinking to link what's been done, your experience and coincidence to coalesce into something pretty damn cool.

As always, please share your discoveries to keep the ideas bouncing.

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