One of the biggest problems with harvesting potatoes is with the subsequent tine-pokes or shovel-slices. No matter how careful we try to be, it seems like about 10% of our potatoes end up dinged. When, like this year, you plant an awful lot of potatoes to begin with, that 10% adds up very quickly! So what to do with the damaged spuds that must be cooked right away?
Enter “Potato Bark”. I was looking for some tips on dehydrating, and stumbled onto http://www.BackpackingChef.com. This guy is awesome! It kills two birds with one stone, as my husband recently asked me to look into dehydrating some meals for his He-Man Backpacking Trips. (He doesn’t call them that, I do. They involve several days of backpacking over Montana mountain peaks. I stand in awe.) Backpacking Chef has lots of recipes for backpacking meals – dehydrated etc.
Potato Bark involves taking your potatoes (in our case, scrubbed and sliced up with the damaged parts removed) and boiling them until cooked. Since the crockpot takes this ridiculously low amount of energy ($$), I tossed my tater slices into my big crock and added lightly salted water. Then, mash your cooked potatoes with an appropriate amount, depending on your volume of potatoes, of fat-free vegetable, beef, or chicken broth (and homemade broth is another post). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste and as desired. Beat the lumps out: by hand, by blender, by mixer, by food processor, whatever. Now you have nice, smooth, fairly thin mashed potatoes. Not too runny, ok?
Spread this tasty mixture out onto your dehydrator “fruit leather” sheets, or on top of parchment paper cut to fit your dehydrator, whatever you have. Backpacking Chef says you can do this in the oven too, but I’m doing it in the dehydrator. Lots less energy! ($$)
Spread thinly, about 1/8″ thick. Then dehydrate it until it’s, well, dry. Dehydrators vary. You want it into a brittle sheet that will break up into small, convenient pieces when done.
Still with me? Here’s the beauty of this stuff. You don’t have to take it on He-Man Backpacking Trips! You can keep it in a Ziploc or a glass jar for practically EVER, and when you want a nice thickener for your soups, stews, etc? Toss a handful in! This is alot better option than cornstarch as a thickener, as you’re getting some nice health benefits from your good potatoes.
And of course you don’t HAVE to use your own organically grown potatoes that got stuck by the potato fork tine or the shovel. You COULD just make it with whatever potatoes strike your fancy. That’s the beauty of it!
I just love how things all tie in so nicely sometimes. Need to use up potatoes? Need to come up with some backpacking/camping/hiking meals? Need to just have some great, nutritious thickener on hand for your upcoming Autumn and Winter stews and soups? Well here ya go. Thank the Backpacking Chef!