Saturday, August 23, 2014

Prepare Today Homemade - Homemade Fruit Snacks

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Who has an abundance of zucchini right now?  Are neighbors leaving them on your porch in the middle of the night?  If so, I have a recipe for you!  Enjoy this popular post from a few years ago.  It is still a favorite of mine!!

This recipe is going to sound bizarre, weird, and totally gross, BUT stay with me because they are really yummy!!  I have been trying to find a way to make fruit snacks at home.  My kids really like them, but to get 6 little pouches in a box at the grocery store seems like a waste of money.  So I was really excited to find this recipe for making fruit snacks out of ZUCCHINI?!?!?!   I know exactly what you are thinking because I thought the same thing.  How on earth can you make fruit snacks out of a zucchini??  I'll show you :)

 First you will need those big zucchinis that you found in the garden, after going on vacation, and you don't know what to do with them. 

 Peel, core, and dice into about 1" pieces.  Don't make them too small because we are going to dehydrate them and they will shrink.  

 In the recipe that I found the author used Kool-Aid and 1 1/2 C of sugar to "season" her zucchini but I already had a #10 can of strawberry flavored gelatin and I wanted to see if it would work.  I only used the gelatin for the flavor and color, it didn't thicken or make the fruit snack any different then using koolaid.  In my first batch I didn't add enough of the gelatin and they weren't very sweet, so I added 3 C of the gelatin to about 3 C of water.  I also added about a cup of sugar to the second batch to sweeten it up.  {I never said these were healthy :) Look at the ingredients on a package of fruit snacks}  You could experiment with sweeteners and find one that will make these a little bit healthier, you could use Splenda. Fruit Juice is also another great option when trying these.
My friend Lisa loves using koolaid and mixing up all the flavors.  My other friend Linda uses organic fruit juice and no sugar, and it works great for both!!

Bring 3-4 C of water and the gelatin, or kool-aid, to a boil and stir in your chopped zucchini.  
Bring to a boil and then let simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.  When they are finished boiling drain the liquid into a bowl because you can boil a second batch in the same liquid.  Let the zucchini drain for about 10 minutes so they aren't so saturated when you dehydrate them.
 Spread the zucchini in your dehydrator or oven.  If you are using your oven you will need the lowest temperature, or crack open your oven door to lower the heat.  I dehydrated the zucchini at about 130 degrees for about 8 hours.  This is the cool part....when they are done they have a kind of crisp edge with a chewy center, JUST like a fruit snack.  I really couldn't believe it and my child who hates everything actually ate them and has asked me to make more!!  

I want to experiment with other flavors, but this is definitely a recipe I am making again. I am letting my zucchini grow big on purpose now :)

Homemade Zucchini Fruit Snacks
2-3 medium to large zucchinis about 4 C (mine were about 8-10" long)
3-4 C water (just enough to cover the zucchini in the pan)*
3 C flavored gelatin OR 2 packages any flavor Kool-Aid
1 1/2 C sugar if using Kool-Aid, OR sugar to taste if using gelatin or fruit juice

Wash, peel and core the zucchini.  Chop into 1" pieces.  Boil your water, sugar, gelatin or kool-aide.  Stir in zucchini and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Drain, saving the liquid for another batch, and let sit for 10 minutes.  Spread zucchini onto dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 130 degrees for 8-10 hours or until slightly pliable.  They will harden as they cool so don't over dry them or they will be hard as a rock.  If you are using your oven, spread zucchini onto cookie sheets and dry on the lowest setting your oven will go. 

*Juice can be substituted for the water, koolaid, and sugar. Use just enough juice to cover the zucchini and boil.   

Here is how my friend Lisa makes her zucchini snacks :) She's my go-to food storage professional friend :)

 After making the snacks many, many, many times now, I have changed ours to be the following, especially when I use the huge zukes! 12 c. water, 6 packets of KoolAid and 5 cups of sugar. I cut my zucchini in 1 inch by 8 inch strips so that they are more like Twizzlers. We have found that they don't disappear quite so quickly. I bring my liquid to a boil and then put about 12 cups or so of the zucchini in and bring it to a boil again, at which point I put the lid on and turn down the heat to about a 3 and allow it to simmer for about 20-25 minutes and then dehydrate on the racks. I've also found that it works best if I add an extra packet of just the KoolAid for the second batch but not any extra sugar. It keeps the flavor bright when I'm making so much. With my Excalibur I end up making 2 batches of 2 different flavors (so 4 different batches) that it takes to fill my dehydrator. Yum!

Enjoy the Journey!
Enjoy the Blessings!
Feel the PEACE!!

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