One of the things I did last week was go to a giant farmer's market near us -- sort of like an Amish Mall. I was going to look for beds, because all we have is one of those metal frames with a box and mattress. (I ended up not buying a bed, which is one easy way to save hundreds of dollars -- more on that in another post).
So I didn't buy a bed. But I did buy a case of bananas -- probably 30 pounds of bananas -- for only $4. Wow!
These bananas are a bit of a MiserMom dilemma for me. On the one hand, I try to buy locally grown, organic food. On the other hand, I knew that these were end-of-the-day bananas at this once-a-week market, and they were marked down to such a low price because the alternative was the dumpster. So there was an environmental reason to take this case of bananas home.
Not to mention the economic case for this case: J-son has been on a huge frozen banana kick, and so my husband keeps buying bananas at grocery store prices, which is, y'know, craziness. So my buying these was also part of my strategy of preventative shopping.
Okay, so 30-some pounds of bananas. It's not like Harry Chapin's song, Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas, but still, a lot of bananas to bring home all at once. How to keep them from going bad?
I peeled a lot of them and laid them on cookie sheets for freezing. That gave me three or four gallon-sized bags full of frozen bananas, which ought to keep J-son happy for a long time, but that filled up the freezer. (As in, my husband was looking for ice cream, opened up the freezer, and said "whoa!!! I guess we won't be getting ice cream for a while!!!" But J-son helpfully pointed out there was space for one container of ice cream on the door shelf.) And yet, there were still many unfrozen bananas left to deal with.
I followed a recipe from this site to make Banana Jam, which is super-yummy. That made three pints of jam to stick in the fridge -- but since banana jam isn't safe to can (in the sense of putting up for the winter), plus it's pretty heavy on butter and sugar, that used up only about 6 more bananas.
So I went back to the solar dehydrator I'd used on my cherries. This time around, we had occasional power outages (e.g. clouds and/or rain), but the process still worked fairly well.
Safety alert: And I also might invest in a true food screen, instead of an old window screen. According to a couple of government websites I googled when trying to figure out the stickiness situation, it's best to avoid "hardware cloth" (whatever that means), because of the danger of cadmium and/or zinc oxidation. Too much of these minerals can cause nausea; and long-term overexposure to cadmium can damage kidneys. (Since I only have one kidney now, I have to be especially nice to it.) My window screen is probably made of aluminum (whose disadvantage is that it "tends to discolor and corrode" -- much less scary). All of these warnings are exceedingly gentle, but if I keep drying food outside, I'll go for stainless steel mesh anyway.