Freeze Dried Food

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Freeze Dried Food

Freezing dry food is a means of preserving your food with most of its nutrients for future consumption.  If you are just going hiking or camping, it is a great way to carry food with you, without having to worry about storage.

David Proctor



           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.






Freeze Dried Food


            Written by David Dawson

September 21, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

“Freezing dry food is a recent invention and many people have discovered its usefulness. What it means is that as you freeze dry your food all moisture and water content is removed from the food.

This is different from traditional freezing. With this new method, the nutritional value of the food remains intact. This is exactly what you want when you go camping for days or are blocked from the world for a week or more during a disaster event. You need nutrition more than ever. Otherwise, the structure of the food changes drastically since it turns into hard crumbs.
You will need warm water to un-freeze and un-dry the food so it becomes edible. There are a few steps to follow for proper freeze-drying, and we will discuss in this article.

You should also know that foods with high content of water are the easiest to freeze-dry. Such foods are fruits and vegetables, e.g. apples, pears, berries, even potatoes, carrots and peppers.

Their structure remains intact, and only the water content is removed. Interesting enough you can freeze-dry other food like meat, pasta, oats, etc. Your imagination is your limit. First you will have to learn the method using fruits or vegetables, since it’s easier with them. When you get comfortable with the process, then you can move to other, more complicated, foods.

You need to be aware about freeze-drying meat though. Don’t do this procedure when you’ve just kept the meat in the freezer and removed it from there, or after you bought it from the market.

Meat must be freeze-dried right after cooking. This is when all its properties are intact and it will still be edible. If you freeze-dry raw meat, and then after months you decide to eat it and melt it, it will still be raw. And be sure that raw meat is hardly appetizing.

The best way to freeze dry your food

First of all, you don’t need some super advanced technique to achieve these results. It is true that there are special vacuum machines which suck out all moisture from the food (and that happens pretty quickly), but that’s not a must. There are other ways to end up with freeze dried food.

Freeze-Drying Process

Use the freezer! This is an easy way to have freeze dried food. The process may take several weeks, but there’s no more action on your part than just placing the food in the freezer and let it work. Basically, you can chop the food to small pieces and place them on a perforated tray or similar (so there’s as little surface covering the food as possible).

During the first several hours the food will freeze. Then starts the sublimation process (meaning, the drying process). This takes much longer – from one to several weeks.

You can test if the food is ready, by taking a frozen piece from the freezer and let it melt. If it turns black then it’s not ready and you need to let it dry more. When the food is fully dried it shouldn’t change its color (especially to black).
If the food doesn’t turn black after melting and keeps its original and natural color, then you’re set up for the final step of storing it.

Another way to freeze dry food is to use dry ice (CO2). This procedure is similar in concept to the above method. You can just use difference means to achieve what you want. Basically, dry ice lets all moisture evaporate from the food, leaving it freeze-dried. In extremely cold environments there’s almost zero humidity in the atmosphere (as a reference, Antarctica has the driest conditions on Earth).

Dry Ice
 Dry Ice

You will need a very large container, almost twice as the food you will freeze dry. Place the food in large plastic bags and seal them (no dry ice should be able to penetrate the package). Cover the food entirely with the dry ice.

Then place the container in the freezer. The container needs to have a few holes so that the gas and moisture can escape the container. If there’s no more dry ice inside the container, then this is your sign that the food is ready. This should happen with 24 hours so make sure to check regularly.

A word of caution – when you do the above, always wear gloves and protective wear while you handle the dry ice.

You will need to store the food when it’s ready and freeze-dried. The best way is to keep it in plastic bags, but make sure to push the air out, since it contains moisture. You don’t want to keep moisture closed inside with the food. This will speed up the spoiling of the food.

You can use a vacuum packing machine if you want to be meticulous. You also should be able to properly seal the bags, so that you’ll be sure that no moisture can find its way inside.

Another popular method is to use a special vacuum chamber but you’ll have to buy one if you want to use this method.

First of all, freeze the food in the freezer (a deep freezer would be even better) and make sure that there is no other food inside – keep only the food you want to freeze-dry later. Let it stay for several hours. Avoid opening the freezer too often since that will slow the process, as ice crystals form very quickly when frozen air meats moist warm air.

When that’s done, remove the frozen food, and immediately place it in the vacuum chamber. Set it to 120 m Torr. The temperature must be 10C (50F).

Again, the process should take at a minimum 1 week, maximum a few more. It all depends on the parameters and how much moisture is in the food. When the sublimation is finished, place the food in storage bags and seal them well.

Then comes the moment when we need to instruct you how to reconstitute your freeze-dried food. This process is possibly the easiest of all. You need boiling water (a cup or two) and add it to the food. It will quickly start turning to its original fresh form, since it soaks with all the moisture you removed by following one of the above methods.

 A few more details and information about freeze dried food.

These details may be of interest to you. When you first freeze the food, it requires a temperature of about -18o C (-0.4s F). Then, in order to make the sublimation process happen, contrary to obvious logic, a warm temperature is needed – it gives energy so that this process can be started. The ice crystals need to evaporate, so a temperature of 35o C (95o F) is needed for this.

Also, while drying in the vacuum container, very low pressure is used. It is needed so that water almost immediately turns from one state (frozen or liquid) to another (gas), and thus evaporates very quickly from the food. Without this process drying would take much longer in normal conditions.

Freeze Drying Process

Of course, in the traditional method (without using any fancy machines), freezing the food basically makes vacuum to be created around the water molecules. When the food is slightly warmed (for drying) these ice crystals quickly turn to vapor and leave the surface of the food.

Another interesting fact is that water has only two conditions when put in a vacuum chamber (or in any vacuum condition) – it can be either gas or a solid. As the food is frozen (vacuum created), and then moved to a slightly warmer condition, the frozen water can only evaporate as a gas. The thing is that even if the food is not kept in super low freezing temperatures, it still remains in sub-zero condition. That is the key to keeping it frozen, yet letting the water evaporate. This process is the so-called sublimation we mentioned above.

In fact, if you use the first method we described above, you won’t need anything special than just a freezer. The first stage is the freezing. Then the water transitions to the second vapor condition and begins evaporating. All the other methods require special chambers or dry ice in order for these two conditions to transition one from the other. As long as you know how water works, you should be able to control the process better.

Also, any type of food can be freeze-dried and you don’t have to worry about the taste or the smell after it is reconstituted. It is even believed that reconstituted freeze-dried food tastes and smells even better than traditionally dried food. The freeze-drying process is the one that preserves all the qualities and nutrients in the food. Adding the boiling water only revives the food. The only nutrients that can be depleted somewhat are vitamins C and E, and folic acid. 

Some amount remains, but most of it can’t withstand this process. That’s why is important to include high-calorie foods in your freezing process. If you don’t know which ones to choose, we have a great list in our article on high-calorie vegetables.

Freeze dried food can last for years. There are people and even markets that store food in this way so it can remain almost untouched by time and then be reconstituted when it needs to be eater or sold. This process is in fact very old and is being used by the Incas. They placed a piece of food during the night to freeze and then keep it in the hot sun for a whole day to dry completely.

Freeze drying is also popular among hikers and campers since camping requires that you carry a lot of things in your backpack. Food can take a lot of space and make your backpack pretty heavy. If you add a few bottles of water and your main weight comes from food and water. So, substituting traditional food with freeze dried food is actually a great way to enjoy a week or so of trekking or camping without the burdens of heavy weight.

It is also highly advisable that everyone has at least one-year of food stored for some future disasters or economic crises. After all you can’t keep a mere basement with fresh canned food, since it may not all fit in. Here comes the magic of freeze dried food. Since 98% of the moisture in the food is removed, this would also mean that more than 90% of the food’s volume will be removed as well. This makes it great for long-term storing (away from moisture), since it takes very little space. If you want to know more about storing food, take a look at our article on emergency food storage.

If you don’t have the desire to freeze dry your own food you can turn to manufacturers who already sell such food. One such popular brand is Mountain House. It is particularly popular among tourists and campers, but if you need to store food you can buy in bulk from them. And don’t expect that they sell only some bleak freeze-dried fruits.

On the contrary, they have whole meals like lasagna, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese and almost everything you can think of. The truth is that almost any type of food can be freeze-dried. Some people even freeze-dried ice cream. And to our surprise it worked.

Freeze Dried Icecream
Freeze Dried Ice Cream

This is why if you take your time and try one of the above methods you can use your own imagination and freeze dry your favorite meals, instead of eating meals you don’t particularly enjoy.

And finally, you can freeze dry meat. One very popular such food is beef jerky. The process is the same and you end up with meat, packed with all its inherent nutrients and is so lightweight that it’s like a paper sheet. You can also do the same with regular cooked beef. So, cook the meat, and then chop it to small pieces. Follow one of the above methods for freeze drying and you will end up with very small hard crumbs (almost like bread crumbs). It wouldn’t even look like beef, but when you add boiled water you will recognize the taste immediately.

Consider freeze drying whenever you go camping or want to store some food for more uncertain days, or just experiment and see how easy it is to complete the process. It’s great to have less room to spare in the fridge when you need to store your food.”

Check It Out!


Home Freeze Drying


Quick Tip

Helpful  Facts

Helpful Facts


Dawson, David. “How to Freeze Dry Food: Instructions And Best Methods.” Survival Mastery, 18 June 2017,

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Healthy Lifestyle

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Healthy Lifestyle

We need to be aware of the risk factors involved in our eating decisions. We will take a look at what we can do to help ourselves and set an example for the younger ones.  September is designated as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.


David Proctor




           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.





Healthy Lifestyle – Healthy Heart


by David Proctor

September 14, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly



The latest news on our health is to take action when it pertains to our heart so we do not have the risk factors for high blood pressure. To support this:
The National Institute of Health (NIH) presently reports that, for people age 50 and older with high blood pressure and at least one other risk factor for heart disease, lowering blood pressure to under 120 mm Hg reduced a combined end point of heart attack, acute coronary syndrome, heart failure and strokes by 30% more than lowering it to 140 mm Hg.
In addition, deaths from any cause were reduced by 25% in those treated to reach a goal of 120 mm Hg.
The study’s independent data safety and monitoring board called for the study to be halted because of this significant benefit, which clearly outweighed any harm. (1)
I started to work on my health a little late in life.  Twelve years ago, I started to take steps to reduce my weight, increase my stamina, and lower my blood pressure.
My blood pressure was not extremely high, but averaged around 125 mm Hg.
After taking small steps to reach these goals, I lost 50 lbs. and have kept it off for over twelve years now.
I do not diet; I just made small steps in my lifestyle that accomplished the weight loss.
I can also say that my blood pressure now averages about 113 mm Hg.
This does not take hours of sweating at the gym but a commitment to small, sustainable steps that can prolong life.

 Systolic - Diastolic



All this means is that I have lowered my risk.  I do not always eat as I should, or refrain from unhealthy activities, but overall the idea is to keep in a path that gets you where you would like to be and that is to be around for your family and loved ones.
This is the whole premise around the urban farm lifestyle, to incorporate a healthy sustainable lifestyle that helps reduce illness and aging effects that diminish our quality of life.
Think about the children that are overweight, pre-diabetic and prone to heart disease at an early time of life. This is changeable and doable, it just takes small steps.
Step 1: Start measuring you blood pressure on a regular basis. Ignorance is not bliss here.  Try to take it the same time at least weakly or once a month.  I take mine 5 days a week, after I work out and have had breakfast.
Step 2: Measure your waistline. This means more than what you see on the scales, your waistline is an indicator of your health not your wealth.  Just because you can or cannot afford to eat and drink healthy, should not show up on your waist as a spare tire or food baby.  One of the best tools is a simple tape measure.
Step 3: Stay mobile.  You have to move; our bodies are engineered to move.  Do mild stretches, get the kinks out, and move around. You do not have to play rugby, but you need to move.
Step 4: Eat less and eat well.  Our plates are too big, get a smaller plate so you do not have to feel guilty about cleaning your plate or eating the portions on it.
Eat less and let it hit bottom, wait a few minutes before you think about seconds, then if you want seconds, always take less than the first.
Eat well. Eat fresh and try to stay away from processed foods.  The biggest contributor to high blood pressure is our salt (sodium) intake.  Our foods are loaded with salt, sugar, and fat. There are all three ingredients that we need to take control of.
Step 5: Try to lower your stress.  Stress can cause many ill effects on the human body.  Take time to do the things you enjoy and put the stressful parts of life in perspective.
Reconnect with friends and activities that bring relief from the everyday anxieties that come from work, commuting, and everyday stress.
None of these steps are easy. When you look at all the things that pull at our attention, from work to family matters, it is not easy to find the time and energy to change your lifestyle.
To put this all-in perspective, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  This month of September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

BMI Calculator

Think about the kids. Too many times we see our youth with weight problems.  Stop and think about what you may have on hand in your own home for your children to eat or drink. Think about their activities.
I can remember back in high school one of the coaches that I had, Coach Clark.  He was a great inspiration to me. I can remember when he would run races backwards as we tried to keep up with him.
He would talk about not spending time watching TV, if he even owned one, and would encourage people to spend time outdoors playing sports or other activities.  He is the kind of role model today’s youth need.
We have to pick up the slack and be that type of role model.  Whether we think the youth are watching or not, they are. They want their family members, neighbors, and loved ones to be around.
So, let’s take the time to watch what we eat, monitor our blood pressure, and be the example that our youth need.  This will help us all to live a more enjoyable, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle.


Food Label
Macaroni & Cheese Dinner

Do not buy food when hungry.  As you can see from label above, this was not a good choice on my part.



An update:  I have had to travel and spend time in a hotel room.  Fortunately, another company that is adjacent to my office, is a physical trainer.  I have moved beyond the mild workouts to nightly workouts that are much harder than I would have ever thought I would be doing.  I know it will pay off in the long run.

Check It Out!

NYC Info
NYC Info 2
NYC Sodium Shakeup
New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene passed a rule that requires some restaurants to label menu items that exceed 2,300 milligrams, the daily limit recommended by federal guidelines.
For ideal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.
Here’s a look at the sodium levels in five New York City favorites!
New York Style Pizza: 1 slice = 689 mg 46% of daily max
Manhattan Clam Chowder: 1 cup = 690 mg 46% of daily max
Pastrami Sandwich: 1 sandwich = 2,750 mg 183% of daily max
Bagels: 1 plain bagel = 740 mg 49% of daily max
Hot Dogs: 1 plain hot dog, no toppings = 780 mg 52% of daily max
New York has been home to several high-profile measures to improve people’s health over the past decade, including efforts to eliminate trans fats in restaurants, calorie labeling, and even a push to ban oversized sugary drinks.
Their efforts have paid off, for there are many New Yorkers who are getting healthier!

Source: Menus on the websites of popular New York restaurants

Quick Tip


With kids back in school, do your part to help them watch what they eat by

  • Eating Healthily
  •  Brown Bag or Pack their lunch
  • Shop for the snacks that are best for them
  • Before going to a restaurant, check out the menu online to find a healthy one.
  • Watch the school menu and be aware of what your child is eating
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Read and compare nutrition labels
  • Watch out for the salty 6: pizza, breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, and cheese.

(1)”Major Hypertension Trial Stopped Early for Positive Benefit with Lower Blood Pressure Control Target.” Major Hypertension Trial Stopped Early for Positive Benefit with Lower Blood Pressure Control Target. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

(2) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

(3) “NYC Salt Shake Up.” American Heart Association, n.d. Web.

(4) “The Salty Six – Surprising Foods That Add the Most Sodium to Our Diets – Sodium Break Up.” Sodium Break Up. N.p., 07 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.


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Posted in Health, Magazine Issues Tagged with: ,

Seed Saver

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle



Saving Harvest Seeds

With the growing season winding down, it is time to think about which varieties you would like to save for next year to plant.  This issue will look at why we go to the trouble to save seeds and the best practices for saving seeds.



David Proctor



           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.





Saving Harvest Seeds

  by David Proctor

September 14, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly 

Heirloom Totato
Heirloom Tomato

When you find a variety that is doing well, you may want to save the seeds so the performance and or attributes can be repeated.  You may also find a need to save the seeds due to the availability of that variety.
As our culture tends to plant more mono crops and utilize less variations in the plant world, we are finding that variation is getting harder to come by.
You can find variation with hybrids, but you will not get an exact duplication from the parent.  Heirloom and open pollinated varieties will provide true-to-type seeds but not hybrids.
Heirloom varieties are becoming very hard to come by.  Heirloom varieties provide a historical link to how food was grown in the past and they provide flavors that are not common in the grocery store and have become popular with chefs and food lovers.
An heirloom variety is a plant variety that has a history of being passed down within a family or community, similar to the generational sharing of heirloom jewelry or furniture.
An heirloom variety must be open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms.
While some companies create heirloom, labels based on dates (such as a variety that is more than 50 years old), Seed Savers Exchange identifies heirlooms by verifying and documenting the generational history of preserving and passing on the seed. (2)

By choosing open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, you have the ability to help conserve biodiversity and to contribute to the stories behind our seeds.

 Sliced Tomato
Sliced Heirloom Tomato

In antique stores, we’re drawn to old maple rockers, ornately carved oak mantelpieces or delicately hand-painted china not just because of their form or materials but for the sense of history that clings to them and the way they warm the imagination.

They make us wonder about the hands that have held them and the people whose lives they have passed through.

That’s true of heirloom plant varieties too. To the gardeners who love them, it matters that ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomato came from a man who bred his own tomato plants, selling enough of them to pay off his mortgage.

At estate sales, you encounter styles far beyond whatever is the standard fashion today. So, too, heirloom vegetables offer a spectacular range of flavors and shapes.

They may be more tart or more sweet, green instead of supermarket red, long instead of the standard oval, ribbed or striped rather than smooth. Often, they have a depth and complexity of flavor you would never find at the grocery store.

What is an “heirloom”? The definition is open to dispute. But the term is usually applied to fruit, flower or vegetables varieties that were being grown before World War II.

Back then, what we now callorganic gardening,” based on manure and mulch, was standard practice for home gardeners, who accepted risk and variation from weather and disease just as farmers had to.

organic gardening
Heirloom Tomato

From the 1950s to the 1970s, hybrids dominated the commercial vegetable market, and the older varieties became hard to find until a growing interest in cooking and food sparked a resurgence of the more flavorful heirlooms.
Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated–meaning that unlike hybrids, seeds you collect from one year will produce plants with most of the characteristics of the parent plant. And that’s key to their survival.
A diversity of choices for the garden is as good a thing as diversity in the gene pool. (1)


Now the how to save seeds procedures and background.

Harvesting Your Seeds

Seeds Benefit From Careful Harvesting and Drying

After you’ve given your plants the help they needed to produce healthy seeds, you must harvest and store the seeds properly to keep them healthy until you are ready to plant them.

How you treat your seeds during harvest and storage can have a large impact on their viability and vigor when planted.

For best results, your seeds should be harvested at the right time, properly cleaned and dried and then stored under conditions favorable to their long-term health.

Harvesting and Cleaning Seeds

Seed harvesting and cleaning techniques fall into two main categories according to whether the fruits and seeds are dry or wet when mature (actually, a third category exists of seeds which will die if dried out after maturing.

Dry Seeds

‘Dry’ seeds include beans, okra, peppers, basil and members of the Onion and Carrot Families. Cleaning dry seeds usually involves simply drying and crumbling the pods or husks, then screening or ‘winnowing’ the seeds to separate them from the chaff.

Wet Seeds

‘Wet’ seeds are found in such plants as tomatoes, eggplants and many squashes.

Cleaning wet seeds requires washing to clean the seeds and to separate them from the surrounding pulp.

In addition, in some cases wet seeds (such as tomatoes) are best fermented for several days to remove germination-inhibiting substances from the seed coats.

Ferment Seeds
 Ferment Seeds

Fermenting can also help such seeds as members of the Squash family by killing molds, mildews and other disease organisms that may be present on the seeds after growing.

Some families (such as the Cucumber family) include some plants that produce wet seeds (e.g., squashes and melons) and others that produce dry seeds (e.g., luffa and hard gourds).

See Seed Saving Instructions for Common Vegetables for details on whether a plant makes dry or wet seeds, and whether its seeds must be fermented before cleaning and drying.

Cleaning Dry Seeds

Harvest dry seeds from their plants when their pods or husks have dried. Some seeds can be picked before they are fully dried on the plants if rains threaten.

Other plants, however, (i.e., Mustard family), will not finish ripening once they have been removed from the plant. Leaving seeds on the parent plant to full maturity and dryness is always preferable.

Once pods or husks have been harvested, store them in a dry place and wait until they are thoroughly dry. When the pods or husks are dry enough they will easily crumble between your hands.

Crumble the pods or husks until all the seeds are released. Then place seeds and chaff in a bowl or box and swirl or shake gently. Most of the larger chaff pieces will rise to the top and can simply be removed by hand.

Seeds and finer chaff are easy to separate by a variety of methods. One way is to use two screens of varying mesh, one a little smaller than the seeds and the other a little larger.

Dry Seeds
Dry Seeds

The first screen lets anything smaller than the seeds fall through, and the second lets the seeds through and stops anything larger.
Another method of separating seeds and chaff is to roll seeds down a gently sloping board, leaving chaff stranded near the top of the board.
This simple method works well with round seeds, but is basically useless for flat seeds such as squashes.
A very ancient method of cleaning seeds is called ‘winnowing.’ In a gentle wind, drop the seed/chaff mixture from a height of several feet into a bucket or onto a sheet or tarp.
With a little skill and some cooperation from the wind (a fan in an enclosed space can be used for better control), seeds will fall into the bucket or onto the tarp while chaff blows away to one side.
Another, very simple way to winnow small quantities of seeds is to swirl or gently bounce the seeds and their chaff in a shallow bowl while carefully blowing chaff away with your breath.
It’s a good idea to do this over a cloth or newspaper to catch seeds blown out of the bowl with the chaff. These can then be hand-cleaned or planted.

Cleaning Wet Seeds

Wet seeds are easy to clean, though some need the additional step of fermentation. Seeds which require fermentation should be cleaned after—not before—fermenting.
Allow the fruits to fully mature on their plants before harvesting. See Seed Saving Instructions for Common Vegetables for details on how to judge when seeds have fully matured for particular varieties—in many, the fruits will be well past the eating stage.
To clean wet seeds, scoop the seeds from the fruit, pulp and all. Pour the seeds and pulp into a large, sloping bowl and add water.
Healthy seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while dead seeds and most of the pulp will float. Use your fingers to gently separate all the seeds from the pulp.
Then, to remove the pulp and dead seeds, carefully pour the extra water with the floating pulp and dead seeds from the bowl.

Wet Seeds
Wet Seeds

Pour quickly enough for dead seeds and pulp to pour off the top, and slowly enough so that the heavier, good seeds remain safely on the bottom.
By repeating this rinsing and pouring process several times, the seeds can be gotten very clean (getting seeds as clean as possible helps to keep them from sticking to whatever surface you dry them on).

Drying Wet Seeds After Cleaning

To initially dry your seeds after cleaning, drain them of excess moisture in a strainer. Pat the bottom of the strainer with a cloth towel to pull extra water from the seeds after they have drained.
 Then spread the seeds on a piece of glass or a shiny ceramic plate to dry (they will stick to paper, even waxed paper).
Place the glass or ceramic plate in a cool, dry shady spot for several days.
After the seeds are dry, they can be carefully removed from the glass or plate and final-dried before being stored in jars.

Treating Seeds for Viability and Disease Control

Seeds can transmit diseases from parent plants to succeeding generations, lowering their productivity and even completely preventing them from producing.
Simple treatments exist, however, for controlling many seed-borne diseases.
Two such treatments available to home gardeners include fermentation and hot water baths, both used on wet seeds.

Why Ferment Some Seeds?

Fermenting some wet seeds can dramatically improve their ability to sprout.
Fermentation removes germination-inhibiting substances from seed coats, makes them more permeable to water, and also helps reduce or control seed-borne diseases (for healthier seedlings).
Purposely fermenting wet seeds mimics the natural process of fermentation that occurs when ripe fruits are eaten by animals or drop to the ground and rot.
When we intervene to keep seeds from fermenting naturally, it becomes necessary to ferment them artificially so they can complete their natural ripening cycle.
Fermentation is needed for tomato seeds (in order to remove a germination-inhibiting gel), and can also benefit Squash Family and eggplant seeds, though more care must be taken with these to avoid premature sprouting.
Ferment Squash Family seeds for only a day-and-a-half or so, eggplants a little longer.

How to Ferment Seeds

To prepare seeds for fermenting, simply squeeze or scoop the seeds—together with the pulp that surrounds them—into a jar with a little water (about half as much water as seeds and pulp).

How To Ferment Seeds

There is no need to include more pulp than naturally comes with the seeds.
Store this seed/pulp mixture in a warm place (75 to 85º F) for 1½ to 5 days (depending on the seed type and whether conditions are warmer or cooler).
Fermentation will be evidenced by bubbling and/or by the formation of a white mold on the surface of the mixture.
As soon as the bubbling or mold have been evident for a day or so, pour the mix into a bowl and clean according to the directions given earlier in the section Cleaning Wet Seeds.
Watch closely, as seeds left fermenting too long (especially above 80º F or so) may germinate, ruining their chances for storage.
Once the seeds start to ‘imbibe’ or swell due to taking on water, they will have begun their internal process of germination… by the time their tiny roots have begun to emerge, it is far too late to try and dry them for storage.
Sprouted seeds can be planted immediately and grown out (depending on season), but they will die if they are dried out for storage once they have begun to germinate.
Experience will tell you how long you can ferment seeds under your conditions before they begin to sprout.
Eggplant and squash seeds germinate more readily than tomatoes, so they should only be fermented for a couple days or so.
Squash seeds, particularly, are quick to germinate—sometimes even sprouting in well-ripened squashes while they are still on the vine!
It’s not required to ferment squash or eggplant seeds, though it increases their germination rates and kills some seed-borne diseases.
In general, when temperatures are kept between 75 and 80º F or so, fermenting is safe and beneficial and will be safely completed before seeds begin the process of germination.

Hot Water Baths

Another way to control some seed-borne diseases is to treat seeds for a short time in a hot water bath at high enough temperatures to kill disease pathogens (about 125º F).
Treatment times and temperatures are specific to each species, and both must be precisely controlled in order for the treatment to be effective without killing the seeds.


As you can see, there are a lot of ways to save seeds for future plantings.  If you have some plants that you really like, this might be a way to save them for future generations to enjoy.

Check It Out!

An Introduction to Seed Savers Exchange  2:00


Quick Tip

How to save squash seed:

  • To save seed, allow the fruit to ripen on the vine until the plants begin to die.


  • Choose only the finest specimens with the best varietal characteristics for seed.


  • Harvest the fruit and store in a cool, dry place. Further aging in storage raises seed viability.


  • The seeds may be removed when the fruit is required for cooking.


  • Scrape out the seeds and wash them in a colander to remove the placenta, the stringy flesh surrounding the seeds.


  • Spread the seeds on screens or paper towels to dry. Let them dry 2 to 3 weeks, then store in dated, airtight jars in a cool, dark closet.


  • When properly stored, squash seed will remain viable for about six years. (4)



(1) “What Is An Heirloom.” Heirloom Vegetable and Flower Gardening Tips and Advice from N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

(2) “The Difference between Open-pollinated, Heirloom, and Hybrid Seeds.”RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

(3) “Complete, Free Seed-Saving Instructions.” Seed Saving Handbook: Learn How to Save Seeds From Common Garden Vegetables—Free! N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

(4) “Heirloom Pumpkin Varieties and Other Squash.” Mother Earth News. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.



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Making & Canning Salsa

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Making & Canning Salsa

Great salsa comes from fresh vegetables out of the garden.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to have and to share the salsa you made after the growing season?  This article will teach you how to make salsa, plus canning methods for preserving the salsa for up to a year.


David Proctor



           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.





Making & Canning Salsa

  by Laurie Calloway

August 31, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


We received an unexpected gift early this week from a friend…thirty-five pounds of Roma tomatoes. Not wanting them to go bad, I quickly went to work, canning seven quarts, and dehydrating several trays. Still, there were several pounds left. I decided to make and can a batch of salsa.


Now, that much salsa is a bit labor intensive…the tomatoes need to be peeled and chopped along with the peppers and onions. And, canning salsa is a bit more involved than just making a small batch.

The ingredients have to be measured accurately in order to maintain a safe ratio of the acidic tomatoes and the non-acidic peppers and onions. However, I found a good, basic salsa recipe in a book entitled “Fresh Food in a Jar” by Kimberly Willis. (Lots of other great canning recipes in this book, as well!)

The recipe starts with five pounds of Roma tomatoes, or enough to yield fourteen cups of chopped tomatoes. Since it takes a while to peel and chop the tomatoes, I decided to make this a two-day process.

The first day, I weighed the tomatoes, washed them, then dropped several at a time in boiling water for one minute to loosen the skins. Immediately, I removed the tomatoes and placed in a large pan of ice water. The skins peeled off easily.

I removed the cores and any spoiled parts of the tomatoes, and chopped the prepared tomatoes in small batches using a blender on the lowest setting. When I had fourteen cups of chopped tomatoes, I placed them in a large pot and refrigerated them until the next day.


The following day, I picked fresh, sweet peppers from my garden, along with two jalapeño peppers. (The recipe calls for two cups chopped fresh green chiles, but you can substitute any types of peppers, as long as they measure two cups.)

Next, I chopped 1/4 cup of the jalapeño peppers, (be sure to wear plastic gloves while chopping hot peppers and jalapeños) and two and one half cups of a combination of white and red onions, and a few chopped garden tomatillos. (As long as the amount totals no more than two and a half cups of onion, you can use any combination you like, or even substitute two and one-half cups of chopped tomatillos for the onions.)



Next, I measured out spices…1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano.

These were the spices listed in the recipe, but you can add any spice or seasoning you like, and/or adjust the amount to your taste. I also added a couple pinches of crushed, red pepper.

Finally, measure one cup of bottled lime juice. (Bottled lemon juice can be substituted, if desired.)


Combine tomatoes, onion, and all the peppers in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.


Add seasonings, herbs, and lime juice and simmer an additional 20 minutes.

Ladle the salsa into clean, hot jars. Wipe rims, place lids, and process in a hot water bath canner. (The amount of time to process depends on the altitude of where you live…see link below.) In my neck of the woods, the pint jars are processed for 15 minutes.

If you have not canned before, or need a refresher on the basics, check out this link:



The recipe yields about 8 pints of salsa. I processed 5-pint jars, and 5 half pint jars, and had almost a pint left over to refrigerate.




Basic Tomato Salsa from “Fresh Food in a Jar” by Kimberly Willis

14 cups of peeled, chopped Roma tomatoes (Other varieties of tomatoes can be used, but the salsa may be thinner if they are not a paste variety tomato.)

2 and 1/2 cups chopped onion. (Can substitute chopped tomatillos for all or part of the onions, if desired.)

2 cups chopped fresh, green chilies or any other type of peppers. (I used fresh, sweet peppers.)

1/4 cup chopped jalapeño pepper

1/3 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 and 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 cup bottled lime juice

Salsa is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh taste of ingredients from your garden.  Canning the salsa allows the fresh taste to be enjoyed and shared in the months ahead.  Give it a try, it is not that hard and the rewards are great.  Watch the video below and check out the tips to get you started.

Check It Out!


Quick Tips


  • Remember to measure your tomatoes, peppers and onions exactly to keep the ratio of acidity consistent.
  • Wear plastic or rubber gloves while seeding and chopping the jalapeños or any other hot pepper you use. Removing the seeds and inner membranes of the hot pepper will reduce its heat.
  • Place tomatoes in small batches in boiling water for one minute, then place in a container of ice water for easier peeling.
  • Any combination of spices you desire can be added, other than the ones listed in this recipe.


“Fresh Food in a Jar” by Kimberly Willis


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Jalapeno Salsa

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Jalapeno Salsa

With the available fresh herbs and vegetables, it is time to bring out some recipes to put them to work.  While at our local farmer’s market, at one of my stops, a savvy young man from Blenheim Organic Gardens, was selling vegetables selected to make fresh salsa all in one container.




David Proctor



           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.






Jalapeno Salsa

by David Proctor

August 24, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

I thought why not, even though I have never made salsa before, I wanted to give it a try.  A recipe was placed in the container along with the vegetables that read:

Fresh Salsa
Make fresh salsa by:

  • Dicing various colored tomatoes
  • Add chopped onion, garlic & hot pepper
  • Season with sea salt, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a touch of sugar

Optional ingredients:

  • cilantro & or fresh lime juice

Sounds easy enough except I do not have a food processor so the blender will have to do.
I asked Laurie Calloway, what I should do since she helps provide recipe articles for the magazine, her experience is way beyond mine.

Laurie suggested to “spread the vegetables out on a tray like in this picture. I do not put oil on them, although I spray the sheet with PAM first.


I roasted them at 425 degrees until the skins crack and slightly char.
Then, I let them cool, then blended them together in a blender.”

Now that doesn’t sound too bad.  I decided to give it a try.

Farmers Market Ingredients

This is what I had to start with.

Cookie Sheet

I spread the vegetables out on the table to see just what I had.  I thought about adding to them, then decided it would be best to just use what was in the container so I could evaluate what I had purchased.


A quick rinse before the cutting board.


I did remove the seeds and core of the jalapeno pepper.  I am not able to eat very spicy food even though Molly did her best to change that over the years, I still can’t eat as spicy as some.  Some like it hot and some not.  I was worried that just the one might make it too hot, but that was not the case.

Cookie Sheet Prep

I quartered the larger tomatoes and diced the jalapeno, onion, and garlic.  Then sprayed the foil lined cookie sheet with a no stick cooking spray and spread the vegetables out on the sheet.  I had the oven preheated to 425F.

Baked Ingredients

For the skins to start to wrinkle took about 10 minutes at 425F.


I started blending with the garlic, jalapeno and green onion.


Tomatoes and more tomatoes.


Almost done and the blender is working fine.


I didn’t add any other ingredients such as sea salt, vinegar or other things you might ordinarily add.  I just wanted to see how the salsa tasted on its own.  If I do say so myself, not bad for the first time. If you like it hot, add more jalapenos.  This year we have a bumper crop.

I am sure that many of you have your own salsa recipes, if you would like to send them to me please do and I will publish them to the readers.

Check It Out!



Quick Tip


Step-by-step water process canning tips for beginners.:
If you would like to read more on this topic, click the link to Urban Farm Lifestyle  Volume 1 Issue 12 Preserving The Summer  


Bibliography: N/A

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