I shared my favorite Paula Deen Gumbo Recipe a little while ago here on the blog as I visited my son's 4th grade class and taught some Regional foods of America. That lead to me searching the world over for some freeze dried okra so I could convert the recipe into a shelf-stable meal! Yup. I found it! Now, mind you, you don't need to use the okra. I think that it is remarkable. I've heard both sides of the okra debate. Some can't live without it. Some think it is "of the Devil." I'm with the former in my gumbo. I think it adds just a really cool depth. The freeze dried version of this gumbo cooks in 5-7 minutes. I've added instant rice to the mix so it will be thick. You can adjust the heat according to your family's tastes but I like mine hotter than my kids so this is a mild recipe and I just keep some hot sauce around for me. I've included the links to ingredients in the recipe so if you're not sure where I normally find some specialty items, click on the ingredient. Most of my powdered sauces come from Firehouse Pantry. They're really fast with shipping and excellent with customer service.
1 cup Freeze-dried Chicken (one can make 12 quart-sized meals)
1 cup instant rice
1 cup freeze-dried Okra(optional)
1/3 cup Freeze-dried sausage (optional)
1/3 cup dehydrated onion
1/2 cup Freeze-dried bell peppers
1/4 cup tomato powder
2T powdered butter
2T Worcestershire Sauce Powder
2T dehydrated parsley flakes
1T dehydrated minced garlic
1 tsp Buffalo Wing Sauce Powder
1 1/2 tsp chicken bullion powder (optional)
1/2 tsp Hickory Smoke Powder
To prepare meal: Add 4 1/2-5 cups boiling water to the meal mix. Simmer 5-7 minutes until rice and vegetables are tender. Yield 6 cups prepared gumbo.
Yes...this is what the freeze-dried Okra looks like! Isn't that just crazy?! I had to stop myself from eating it just like popcorn! Love it. Love.Special shout-out to North Bay Trading for this one! I ordered it and got it within 3 days so it was a really fast turn-around on the shipping. I got the 1 lb bag...and it was about 2 gallons full of okra. I always forget how lightweight freeze-dried food is!
In the past, as today, I've been very frank about the food safety of these meals. Please be very careful to use an oxygen absorber for these jars OR a vacuum packing machine. With the use of the freeze dried meat they are not optional. They are for your safety. Now... the Oxygen Absorber is a one time use. I've given tutorials for using those in many of my posts. Wikipedia says: "An oxygen absorber is a small packet of material used to prolong the shelf life of food. They are used in food packaging to prevent food color change, to stop oils in foods from becoming rancid, and also retard the growth of oxygen-using aerobic microorganisms such as fungi... Oxygen supports the growth of microorganisms and causes changes in color and rancid odors in packaged foods. Plastic packaging is less able to exclude oxygen from packaged foods than are the older glass and metal containers. Oxygen absorbers absorb oxygen and effectively reduce the aerobic environment to 0% oxygen. Therefore aerobic bacteria and fungi are unable to grow in this environment. This will extend the shelf life of a food product for years. The advantages of oxygen satchels versus vacuum packaging are that the food products are not crushed or squeezed, as some products are of high value and are fragile, and its simplicity of use."
Many people have asked about using a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer. In the past I've said that this is a good idea but not really gone into the simple basics on how to use this machine. You can thank The-Mega-Mom and the Pansy Man (aka my mom and dad) who sent me this new FoodSaver® V3835 Vacuum Sealer Kit for Christmas last year. I don't know why it took me so long to post this tutorial. Forgive me. It is a really easy tool.
Do FoodSaver® Jar Sealer attachments work with all mason jars? Food Saver Vacuum Sealer Jar Sealer is designed for Ball® and Kerr® brand wide-mouth and regular mason jars. Wide-mouth Jar Sealers can only be used with wide-mouth jars. Regular Jar Sealers are only for regular mason jars.
The rubber seal on the inside looks like this...
Put your mason jar lid on top of your jar (not the ring, just the metal lid),
and then fit the entire vacuum lid unit over the top of your jar lid.
Obviously this isn't a picture of the Gumbo...but this is how it works.
If a meal has a lot of powder ingredients, you can still use the jar attachment.
This Food Saver Vacuum Sealer is really simple to operate. There are many different models. Just make sure that the one you use for meals in a jar is designed to use the hose attachments.
There you go! Make some gumbo!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess