Local Food: Sun Drying, Gleaning, Wild Yeast

Local and sustainable/organic foods continue to gain support. Good thing, as they’re better for people and planet, and the local economy. I’m doing an “Eat Local Challenge” this week, eating only foods grown within 250 miles (coordinated by THRIVE and the Ashland Co-op, and it motivated to get a move on storing the harvest and experiment with wild yeast.

Here’s my simple “solar food dehydrator” in my sunny backyard (<$11 worth of 12 ft x 2 ft metal screen + clothespins,  screen door, bricks). Screen is folded in half to protect my harvest. Quick and easy way to enjoy local food after harvest and takes a few days to dry. Currently drying pears, apples and grapes. This area of Oregon is what so many sought in the “Grapes of Wrath” – all  the food you can eat dangling deliciously vines and trees now.

Indeed, more than you can eat. Fortunately, Ashland has a great nonprofit, Neighborhood Harvest, that  gleans unharvested fruits & nuts to ensure good food doesn’t go to waste. The harvest is divided among the property owner, volunteers, food banks and the organization, which sells it at the Growers’ Market for fundraising. Consider looking for a “gleaners” group in your area and supporting it, or help a local food bank start a program like this.

Wild yeast sourdough

I used regional organic whole wheat flour + water (flour is from Black Ranch in Scotts Valley, CA. Delicious, high quality!) This photo was taken on day 2 – good stuff in the air here, and the flour I’m sure! There are detailed directions HERE. I found the directions after “starting” and used only water and whole wheat flour, not a mix of white flour and rye as directed.  The Alaskan pioneers just used flour (and passed sourdough cultured down across generations) so I decided to see if I could  get this to rise to the challenge.

(UPDATE 9/17…So far, I’ve enjoyed some good crepes and injera-like pancakes.)

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