Christmas is a time where most people get a lot of ‘wants’. For the past several years, I have turned Christmas into a time of gathering ‘needs’. This past year, I hit the jackpot. My parents got us furniture we needed, my grandma got us a huge canning pressure cooker, and Ryan’s mom got us a dehydrator.
I’ve been drying things left and right ever since. It’s been pretty sweet, quite literally. The aroma of dehydrating fruit and leathers is a-mazing.
When I first set out to preserve goods by dehydration, I did the normal Google/Pinterest search for ideas. What I found in most recipes was that they called for you to dip your fruit in lemon juice and then in water, and so I did. As time went on and I started experimenting on my, I found this step didn’t really change anything. Bananas were not a different color, taste was not altered, and the shelf life was not extended. Thus, I cut out this slightly tedious step.
Dehydrating is now my favorite way to save aging fruit from the brink of death. I don’t always mind sharing our wastes with our compost, but if I can keep feeding my family, I will always choose that route. (Much like spending hours freezing kale.) Other times, like now, I enjoy preserving the freshest of fresh.
Ryan and I picked up a pineapple, organic strawberries and blueberries (among other things not dehydrated, like pluots!) from Your Dekalb Farmers Market in spirit of trying new things dried. Bananas and kiwi were items I had picked up days earlier from Trader Joes. (On a side tip, if you are in the Atlanta area you have got to visit the Dekalb Farmers Market. It has an astounding variety of fruit, fish, meat, and so much more. I’d show you pictures if they allowed them to be taken.)
One thing I love about dehydrating is it doesn’t take much work time and can last up to a year if stored correctly. I store our dried treats in tightly sealed jar and keep them in ‘the pantry’ a.k.a. the multifunctional kitchen stand. Occasionally shake the jars if there is moisture in anything you have stored. This distributes the moisture and keeps thing from growing mold.
With fruit you cut, try to keep it the same size for even dehydration. I don’t always succeed at this, so after the allotted time has passed, I check on everything. The fruit that is done I take out and what needs to go longer, goes longer. Keep in mind that the dried fruit becomes firmer as it cools.
On my first tray, I did blueberries and bananas. I did nothing special, just prepped the fruit and placed on the tray.
Well, I did do something ‘special’. I used a cool mesh insert that came with dehydrator. It’s super helpful when you dehydrate sticky stuff.
I did bananas topped off with cinnamon on my next tray. It adds a little sweetness, and who doesn’t love cinnamon?
Then, I did a tray with kiwi and pineapple. For these guys, I used the hard plastic tray cover that I use when doing leathers because it prevents it from seeping through.
I followed that up with a tray of pineapple and strawberries. (I figured that it would have made more sense to place the kiwi and strawberries on one tray and all of the pineapple on another. Oh well, no harm no foul.)
I set the dehydrator to the fruit setting (where it lives), or 135 degrees and let it go for 9 hours. I removed what was ready and let the rest go until morning (another 7 hours later). With so much in the dehydrator, time was altered.
Pineapples take 10-18 hours, strawberries take 10 hours (chips take 15-20).
Same goes for bananas.
Kiwi goes between 7-15 hours. I feel like I let mine go just a little too long. When I took them out in the morning (after 16 hours) they were pretty crisp- good, but crisp.
Let’s talk blueberries, something I learned was that you need to puncture them before dehydrating. Otherwise you will wind up letting them dry for 36 hours.
I not only love my dehydrator because it is so easy, but it’s a healthy snack that can easily be taken on the go. Ryan takes it for lunch, and I already know some of the snacks our future little ones will be eating on car trips, school lunches, etc. Like these apples I made months ago…