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.
They have a Lid Sealer Accessory Kit that has attachments for both wide and regular mouth jars as well as stoppers for bottles.
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
Great tutorial post! I have the FoodSaver sealer but not the lid attachment, I'll have to buy one. Thanks Chef Tess!
Just a quick question - when you use the foodsaver, do you still use an oxygen absorber packet? Would you get a little longer shelf life if you use both?
The shelf life will be the same if you use oxygen absorber or the vacuum. You don't need both. Great question.
Love this recipe! I wonder if you could use a cajun seasoning instead of the wing powder, etc. I personally love Tony Chacherie (sp)but have seen others out there too. Looking forward to the 52 method book.
Yes! Totally use a cajun seasoning. That would rock!
On the subject of Cajun seasoning, have you considered a Red Beans & Rice meal in a jar? My recipe is pretty simple so I may try it on my own. The only issue I can see is the andoui or similar sausage. I've never seen anything like a kielbasa freeze dried. Maybe freeze dried ham would work? This is one of hubby's favorite meals (he discovered it in New Orleans on our honeymood), and I've made it frequently over the last 32 years.
Oh it is "on" for red beans and rice!
OK, Great! The basic recipe I use has a pound of sausage (I use all beef kielbasa since Andoui is hard to find here in the wilds of West Texas), the trinity of onions, celery and bell peppers, and cajun seasoning. I saute the veggies in the fat leftover from cooking the sausage - don't know how you'd get around that in a 52 method recipe. Then I add a can (or two depending on how many I'm feeding) of red beans and the cajun seasonings. I do the rice separately. I have a favorite brand of red beans that I use and wondered if I could just dehydrate those since I like their flavor. I use the "goop" and all since it's flavored too.
I think we can do that! I'll play with it a little. I'm excited! I've had a lot of e-mails requesting this dish so I think we're on to something. We'll have to use some freeze dried ham and sausage to get the smokiness and the rest of the flavors will do great. The quick cook red beans cook in 20 min. Same as rice so it would be a great fit! I'm way excited!! Can you tell?? I love it when people give great ideas! Thanks for sharing your recipe too. Xoxo!
WooHoo! I'll be looking for the recipe!
One thing I forgot is the garlic. I use either fresh crushed or dried minced.
This is new to me, do you have links to resources or tutorials to buy or make the freeze dried ingredients, such as freeze dried chicken?
Links are embedded in the recipe if you click on the ingredient it will take you to my favorite resources.
Love your blog, Tess! Here's a question for you...
My husband is severely disabled (traumatic brain injury) and is currently on a feeding tube but can eat some pureed food. We've built that up to about 1/4 cup a day and hope to keep increasing that amount and get him free of the darned feeding tube!
Anyway, I'm a prepper and I would like to (obviously) prepare him meals in a jar that he'll be able to eat. My question is, can I grind the ingredients (freeze dried sausage, pasta, etc.) so that when I cook it, it will be of a consistency he can handle?
Will it rehydrate okay?
I know that this is a kind of strange question, but there it is.
Yes and Yes! My suggestion would be a spice mill or vita-mix, grinding the dry ingredients about 1 cup at a time. It will become a powder, but will hydrate with water just as well using the same amount of liquid I've given for the recipes. My heart goes out to you. xoxo!
I'm going to love stockpiling your meals for him!
Just wanted to thank-you for posting the link for the freeze-dried okra. I received my order today and have to say that is some fresh and flavorful okra! Am looking forward to trying this recipe.
Vacuum Packing systems consist of a small manually-operated pump, which can be used to extract air, from canisters and bottles, only. They do not usually indicates, when a vacuum has been achieved. Although, they do not completely remove the air from the container, they do help food last longer. Glass or glazed ceramic containers works the best.
Hi! Just wondering if you could use the food saver food storage bags instead of the jars? (for lighter weight, like if camping or traveling) thanks!Also, would you need to use the oxygen absorber, and do you what kind of shelf life these would have? sorry for all the questions - this is new to me :)
The foodsaver bags are not reccommended for the freeze dried meat for long storage. If you look at the tab at the top of the blog, the "52 method Jar info" has answers to all your questions. Xoxo! I'm so glad you found me. :)
Stephanie, I have not idea why I never came aross your blog before, since we are surely kindred spirits...except you are so lovely and young~ I thought for sure I saw a recipe for red beans and rice here, but realize it was comments in the blog. I lived in New Orleans as a newly wed in 1972, and became enamored with this dish.
Anyway, I woke up and soaked my red beans, cooked them in my beloved pressure cooker, dried them so it would be true to 52 meal in a jar spirit, then came to print out the recipe and gcan not find it. No matter, I have my dried red beans cooking with appropriate seasonings, dried garlic, green pepper, celery and rice cooking separately in an old well used soup can, all inside my electric pressure cooker, set for 6 minutes. The timer has already beeped at me, before I even had time to blog comment.
I digress, anyway, I've ordered your cookbook and can't wait to make every singe dish in it - my habit - I was Julia before Julia was a gleam in some producer's eye. Yes indeed, I got a cookbook for a wedding present, in 1971, called "Splendid Fare" by Albert Stockli - I made every single dish (except seafood because I'm deathly allergic). So I look forward to making all yours.
Where was I? Oh yes, digress, I want labels. Beautiful Chef Tess labels, to print on all my lovely mylar bagged meals. Or for my jars. That means 2 different sizes, but Avery does all kinds of labels so maybe you can hitchhike.
Oh yes, 1 more thing, I want Red Beans & Rice, for a meal in a jar,
Love you so much already, Janice for Kansas to Washington to New Orleans to Oregon to California and now in Albuquerque, NM.
Thank you my dear newest favorite CHEF.
Another tip for using the Vacuum packing method.
Sometimes the lid just won't seal. When this happens, if you put two lids on and then vacuum seal it, I have had the first lid seal every time. The second lid will just fall off. It just seems to need that little that added pressure. :-)
okay so I think I get it but just to be sure I put my ingreds in the jar put an oxygen absorber on top place my lid and ring on and screw it done nice and tight and that's it, I've come back to this several times and want to make them but I wanted to be absolutely clear that I could use the packet and then just screw the top on. Sorry but I do best when things are "dummed down" so I know I understand perfectly. And also thanks for the fantastic idea can't wait for a response so I can get crackin!
That is as simple as it gets. Screw the lid down tight and you're done if you use the oxygen absorber. If you use the jar attachment in this post you wouldn't need the oxygen absorber.
Hi Tess! I just found your site and am delighted! A couple of questions, though.
1) What size oxygen absorber do you use? They come in everything from 100 CC to 1000 CC.
2) In making some of your meals, such as the "hamburger helper" recipe, you reconstitute with water and milk. Would it be possible to add some powdered milk to the jar ingredients? I'm concerned that, under extreme conditions, fresh milk might not be available.
Once again, thanks for your wonderful site. I think I'll be spending a lot of time here!
I only use water to reconstitute the meals. I'm not sure what recipe you're using? Oxygen absorbers are generally 300 cc for the quart size meals all the way up to a gallon worth of food.
I would love to do this, but have a question; I recently attended a canning class, and they dry canned some flour, and cereal in quart jars. I don't have oxygen eaters, and the freeze dried 'meat' I have is vegetarian substitute. Would dry canning work in this case?
Dry pack canning is vacuum packing. You can use the vacuum jar attachment instead of an oxygen absorber but you need to use one or the other for the long term storage. I don't recommend putting jars or lids in the oven. Just sanitize with boiling water bath and air dry completely. Make sure jars are completely free of any moisture in the jar before you pack with the dry food. That is very important. Never put the dry packed/vacuum packed jars in a water bath either. FYI. I get that question a lot. They don't need to be put in boiling water.
Your recipes rock! I was wondering about using granulated garlic instead of dried minced ( it's all I have at the moment) and already got all the other ingredients.
I thought if I used less it might be ok, but not sure. What are your recommendations ?
hi! first, I love your tutorials and blog though Im new with this kind of food storage preparation. my question is: when a recipe calls for instant rice, where can I buy that? Can I use a regular rice instead?
Great wotk...Thanks for such a useful information.......
Vacuum Packing Machine
Great recipe must try it out!
Love your recipes Chef Tess. I want to try storing some jar meals with a foodsaver. I have one ordered, expecting it anytime. My question is what is the shelf life of these meals? How long will they last once prepared? Is there a difference in shelf life between using a foodsaver or using an oxygen absorber?
Thank you for all you hard work and sharing with us.
Hi I would like to know where can I print the Recipes for the jars.
I have dehydrated okra. Before I place it on the Dehydrator I put seasonings on the okra. It is really good can't stop eating it
Tip: for gravy or dishes calling for making a roux, just put a cup or two of flour in a dry baking pan and brown in the oven to your desired color. Store in a small jar. When you need gravy, mix the browned flour with a little water and broth into broth to thicken. A wonderful way to save both time and fuel.
I just read this tutorial Food Saver Vacuum Packing Meals in a Jar Tutorial and New Louisiana Chicken Gumbo Recipe and can say that it is one of the best tutorial.
Love your site. Got your book recently! I love that jar sealer attachment too by the way. I use mine ALL THE TIME!
I have a question. I see quite a few of your recipes use sour cream powder. Sour cream is not a well loved food in my house. Is there something I can substitute for the SC powder?
Thanks! Keep up the good work!
Definitely in love with it! Thank you for your post.
I'm using FoodSaver V4880 to make meal in a jar. That sounds good. Thanks for your helpful infomation, that helps me so much!
Thank you showing us how to use the jar sealer. My husband and I just bought a mealsaver vacuum and a jar sealer. We could not figure out how to seal jars with the mealsaver. We thought that we may need to get a hose attachment. By watching your video I now understand how to use the jar sealer. Thank you so much we can’t wait to start using our jar sealer.
I have an older food saver (at least 20 years). Is there any advantage to the newer models?
I love your blog.You shared very precious and great information.I've learned something new coming from you and I agree with that in your details mentioned. Big thanks!
Hey chef Tess
Idaho prepper here. Love your recipes. I'm waiting for sausage from honeyville now. I'm excited 😃 I just wanted to tell everyone that a brake bleeder is a hand pump vacuum system that works great with the jar attachment kits from foodsaver. The bleeder pump can be bought at any auto parts store. I paid 23.00 for mine. I don't use the foodsaver machine because I store in glass or mylar so I use the jar attachment system, or oxy absorbers for mylar. Works great. Can't wait for your book. Thanks for the great recipes.
I am confused about the oxygen absorbers. I didn't know about the heat they give off. In my first batch of 12 jars I quickly put the absorbers in and sealed the jars. I think they sealed but I had to push down on the top. Then I studied some about the absorbers. Told me to put the rest in a jar with some rice and seal, which I did. when I did my second batch several days later, I put in the absorbers and the jars did not seal. Should they seal? How do I keep the absorbers fresh so they will continue to work? Or is this a concern? I don't see this addressed anywhere in your cookbook or website.
I love this post.
Thank you for these good tips!
Will try out this receipt.
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