Mrs Green’s groovy green gadget

Filed in Blog by on November 28, 2011 15 Comments
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More than enough for us AND the neighbours!

More than enough for us AND the neighbours!

This week, as well as my ongoing decluttering, I’ve been putting two groovy gadgets to good use in the kitchen to help reduce food waste and save me money.

In our garden we inherited two well established apple trees. Sadly they are both bramley cooking apples. Not that I’m not grateful, but there are only so many apple pies / jars of chutney / bottled apples you can eat in a year.

If I had a magic wand I’d change these trees into eating apples as we all eat a fresh apple every day.

This year Mother Nature has been a busy girl and our trees are literally touching the floor with the weight of the fruit.

We’d had several grateful freecyclers filling bags and boxes. We’ve swapped and gifted with neighbours (I once went out with a box of apples and came home with some pears, sprout plants, eggs and a swede – community living at its best). The birds and wasps have had a field day. I have a freezer full of apple pies and there are STILL hundreds of apples on our trees.

So I’ve dusted off my dehydrator and this amazing gadget which Mr Green and I spotted while on holiday.

We were aimlessly browsing one of those stores that is full of things you never knew you needed until you saw it, when I really did spot something I never knew I needed but I did (if you know what I mean).

Costing less than ยฃ5, it was a bag sealer.

I’ve had a vacuum sealer in the past which I ended up giving away on Freecycle because it was another of those ‘I never knew I needed it’ items which I fell for. Hey guess what? I never needed it…

But this bag sealer looked like a great invention. You didn’t need any special bags, it runs on two rechargeable batteries and is good to go in an instant. It looks a bit like this:

Our bag sealer is similar to this one

Our bag sealer is similar to this one

Needless to say, it’s made storing my dehydrated apples a breeze.

I’ve also been putting a couple of old “Smash” canisters to good use too. These beauties hold about a week’s worth of dried fruit in them and as the containers are made from composite material it means I don’t have to figure out how to take them apart to recycle them!

So far I’ve bagged around 1kg of dried apples. A full dehydrator shrinks everything down to around 120 gms. And apart from the electricity to run the dehydrator it’s all been for free!

Tell me; what foods have you harvested and stored successfully this year?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Hi Mrs Green
    We have the same issue with quantity of apples here in Worcestershire. Have you ever tried juicing your bramleys? Ripe bramleys make lovely juice. If you pasteurise or freeze the juice, you could be drinking it all year – less waste and less CO2 than orange juice for breakfast.

  2. CarSue says:

    We canned tomatoes, green beans, pickles, and peach preserves this year (sadly, our peach tree is a bit unwell, and all of her fruits were small and less-than-perfect, so we opt ot make jam rather than eat them!). We also froze cherries. Personally, I think it’s a lovely idea to give some of the bounty as Christmas gifts– I frequently give jars of salsa that I’ve made with peppers, onions, and tomatoes from my garden, and my friends and family love it! With all your apples Mrs. Green, I think it would be darling to dehydrate them, seal in small bags, then decorate some small cardboard boxes with apple stamps or stickers and your family “brand name.” Unique and zero waste!

  3. Kathy says:

    I have 2 grafted apple trees that have 4-5 types of apples on each tree. They are very old trees, and most likely wont last much longer. They really produce a big crop every other year. Sadly this wasn’t the year for the big crop. I really envy your crop.

    I have given boxes of the dried apples (some apples dried plain, some with cinnamon) tied with a gingham ribbon. I added a gift tag of apples cut out of old note cards and tied it with a small wooden apple Christmas ornaments from my stash. I did 25-30 of these one year and used them as party favors and gifts for drop ins. They were a big hit. I know a lot of people bought food dryers and now dry their own food. Dried apples are so good!

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Julia Goodfellow-Smith: Funnily enough Mr G was talking about a juicer the other day. I felt it would be a waste of money – one of those ‘good idea’ gadgets that you never actually use and take longer to clean than use. Then I wondered how long the juice would last – I prefer to do jobs in batches, but I’m guessing it would go off pretty soon without some form of pasteurisation?

    @CarSue: I love the dried apple gift ideas Sue – thank you! And thanks for sharing the news of your own great harvest ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Kathy: We have been known to have 7 apples over 2 huge trees! I have a feeling they might be resting next year after this one!! Thanks for sharing the story about the dried apples; I’m feeling all creative now!

  5. @Mrs Green: The juice will last for a few days in the fridge before it starts going fizzy (and turning into cider!). Pasteurisation is relatively simple – check out this link: http://ciderworkshop.com/juicepasteurising.html
    I’ve done it without the ascorbic acid (or thermometer) and it was fine for a few months afterwards.
    You’re right, worktop juicers take a lot of cleaning so I always juice in batches too. Some local orchard groups or Transition groups have community juicing days too – where you take your own apples and bottles, and they’ll juice the fruit in a big press – much faster and more efficient than a worktop juicer.

  6. Unfortunately, Im a flat dweller so I dont have my own garden. But down at ArtSway’s community garden green space we had a bumper crop of potatoes, tomatoes and (unfortunately inedible) sweet peas that filled the garden and galleries with their beautiful scent for months!!
    The veggies were used up at both our summer launch party and harvest celebrations in October: in potato salads, salsa and green tom chutney! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Jane says:

    Check out http://www.abundancelondon.com It is great to see this happening in a capital city! Sharing a fruit press and being able to share and swap expertise and experience as well as produce is a great idea.

  8. great responses for food oriented posts…as it is the season to enjoy indoor activity.
    why not cut thin apple slices cross-ways–it makes rounds with star shaped seed beds at center ..i dry mine on strings by the heater vents for two days first to ensure they retain shape..

    the rounds can be hung on wreaths or holiday trees.
    or make a wintertime mobile with twigs and string to perpetuate the season’s spirit.
    the scent calms nerves and the red rind makes it so festive–

    then put the dusty remnants out on threads in the trees for the winter birds.

  9. ps: i like this little gadget, no need for specialized costly bags, good way to recycle plastics at home.

  10. Jane says:

    In the country we’ve taken apples to a local farm for pressing in the past. I’ve wondered about using an Aga or Rayburn for drying. How do you know if the slices are fully dried?

  11. fruit slices are fully dried when you press a paper napkin or muslin cloth to them and no moisture appears. a simple touch with eyes closed could inform you as well.( if fingers are clean and dry themselves.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle Morgan @ Eco-Centricity: I love the idea of the community benefitting from such things; sounds like a great time would have been had by all ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Jane: what a lovely idea Jane – thanks for sharing. My suggestion as to whether foods are dried is to try them – a bit like pasta; keep trying until the ‘al dente’ is achieved…

    @nadine sellers: thanks Nadine; I still find the star inside a aliced apple quite magical and it reminds me of a lovely story I used to tell LMG ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: Also check out http://www.sharphamtrust.org.uk as under their Events listings for October they have an an Apple Pressiing Day and Autumn Festival.

    I’ll just have to have a go at the drying business then won’t I?

    Those don’t look like Bramleys to me. Are they? They seem rather red.

    I think I read that this is the time of year to put the pheromone traps out for to catch codling moth on the apples. So spose I should be doing that too. And pruning as well.

  14. Jane says:

    The Hairy Bikers were looking at cider making (and beer making) yesterday with recipes of course. It is on BBC i-player to watch again for several weeks. Best of British Cider and Beer Making.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: thanks for the iplayer tip; will check it out. It isn’t actually our photo in the tree; it’s a stock photo ๐Ÿ˜‰

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