Thursday, May 15, 2014

my totally epic flaxseed cracker post

I have recently gotten SUPER into flaxseed crackers. I was buying some from the store - Flackers, by Doctor in the Kitchen - and I loved them. But gosh, they're pricey, at $6 for a mere 5 ounces. (Basically around ~20 crackers.) I was like, surely I could make them myself?

I enlisted the SO, Chris, for help, and after searching the internet, we came across this recipe. The end product looked very much like what I was aspiring to, but I didn't like the addition of the pureed tomatoes. I compared the recipe versus what was in the ingredient list for the Flackers, and decided to try a very basic version, which was equal parts flaxseed and water, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Otherwise, I followed the instructions at the link.

I did a small test batch first, and they came out PERFECTLY. For some reason I never got a picture of that first batch (for shame). But believe me, they came out looking JUST like the Flackers. Test successful, I launched on a campaign to make a big batch of my very own Flackers, with a variety of flavors.

Golden flaxseed, bought in bulk from Whole Foods. $2.49/lb
First, flaxseed. We calculated that 1.5 cups of flaxseed in this recipe would just fill one tray of my dehydrator. I decided to make 4 different flavors, and so measured out four portions. I added 1.5 cups of water to each, and .75 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (sticking to the ratio as set out in the above-linked recipe).

such flax.. very mix.. wow
Then I let it sit for about 20 minutes. The flax will absorb the water and become a sticky, gelatinous blob.

Blob status achieved.
This is when I mixed in the flavorings. I wanted garlic rosemary, for sure, as well as onion. Chris had designs on the other flavors, one being tomato basil, and the other chipotle.

dehydrated onion
dehydrated tomato
The onions and tomatoes were ones we had previously dehydrated. We gathered fresh basil and rosemary from the plants in our garden. The chipotle came from a bottle of chipotle seasoning stuff.. that one was mostly an experiment.
top, l-r: onion, tomato and basil. bottom, l-r: chipotle flavor paste, rosemary and garlic powder
Dashes of salt were added to everything as well, and mixed thoroughly.

mix mix mix
Then, the spreading began!

plopped onto a paraflexx sheet (plastic wrap also works fine)

spreading with just the back of a spoon

tadaaaa. remember this is 1.5 cups of flaxseed

close up on the flaxy loveliness
Spreading the mixture takes a bit of finesse because it will easily be ripped apart if you're rough. But on the upside, it's SO sticky that it is easy to patch holes back over. Then I dehydrated for a couple hours at about 135 to get the first bout of wetness out, and lowered it to around 105 for the rest of the time.

trays loaded
After a couple hours, when the tops of the crackers had a slight crust to them (but were still plenty gooey underneath), I took them out and scored out the cracker shapes.
I just used the side of a silicon spatula.

all scored
I scored each tray as 8 x 8 rows of crackers, so I came up with 64 crackers on each tray. Also at this stage, I sprinkled a dusting of kosher salt along the tops of all the crackers. (I like when my crackers have grains of salt on them, but this is optional.)  Then loaded the trays back in to complete dehydration!

Three of the crackers, the tomato basil, onion, and rosemary garlic, all fully dehydrated in about 24 hours. The chipotle ones however took an additional 24 hours after that. I wouldn't use that flavoring mix again because a) too wet, b) too many fats in the condiment that could potentially go rancid, and c) didn't actually like the flavor that much. However I view a 75% success rate as pretty good.

Once finished, came the fun part - breaking them all apart into crackers!

breaking & testing the undersides for doneness

some finished crackers

I need to get some better storage
I packed them all up into various tuperwares, and ended up with a total of 256 crackers. Here's a breakdown of costs:

~3 pounds of flax @ $2.49/lb = $7.47
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar @ $5 for a gallon = $.06
1 onion = $.25
3 roma tomatoes = $1
spices, salt = $.50
fresh rosemary and basil from my garden = $0
electricity to run the dehydrator for two days = ~$3 (rounding up)

total cost: $12.28
cost per ounce: $0.26

The boxes of Doctor in the Kitchen Flackers had approximately 20 flackers in them, when I counted. An entire box is 5 oz of crackers, which comes out to about $1.20/ounce. So by making them myself, I am making a hell of a savings! The boxed Flackers of course have convenience on their side, but by doing huge batches at once, I spend a few hours of effort (most of the work is done in the dehydrator, after all) on a couple days and then I have crackers for weeks. Sounds like a good trade off to me.

And this was only with 4 trays. Next time I'll go for broke and do a full 9 trays!

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