Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dehydrating Fruit

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I was so inspired by the dehydrating class that I took at Honeyville that I brought out my dehydrator and filled it up with colorful fruit.  I found  a great grocery store (Rancho Market) that has unbelievable prices on fruits and veggies, and I bought a cart full just to dehydrate. 

When purchasing food to dehydrate you may want to calculate how much time, money, and effort that it will take to get a finished product.  Tomatoes and potatoes are two foods that I think are easier to purchase already dehydrated.  But there are many other foods that are simple to dehydrate.  And if you can get free fruit from your own yard or a friendly neighbor, even better!!

Today I dehydrated oranges, orange zest, limes, lime zest, kiwi, peaches, and Mexican papaya.

This is a Mexican papaya and it was so sweet and juicy.  My kids were so fascinated by the seeds in this fruit.  I can't wait to taste it when it is done!

 On this tray I have the papaya and kiwi fruit.  It is so colorful and pretty.  These fruits also look so pretty sealed in mason jars and lined up on a shelf.

One of the great tips that I learned at the Honeyville class was to dehydrate your orange, lemon, and lime peels.  Then you will always have zest when you need it.  I used my vegetable peeler and it peels off just the colored part of the fruit and not any of the bitter white parts. 

 I sliced limes and oranges on this tray and I can use them to make limeade or an orange drink later.  Just reconstitute them in a pitcher of cold water, add sugar if you want and stir.  We will also eat the oranges and maybe make some into a powder.  We'll see when they are done.  Dehydrated oranges (and pineapple) are so delicious!

 Lastly I cut up some peaches to dehydrate.  My house smells so good right now.  It finally cooled off here in Utah (around 80° instead of 105°) so I felt OK in turning on the dehydrator.  I could have done it outside, but I like to keep my eye on it and I know I would forget about it outside.  

I cut all my fruit about 1/4" thick (well as close as I could with slippery fruit) and they will probably take 6-12 hours to dry.  I will check them after about 4 hours and rotate any trays.  

Here are all my trays ready to go.  I warmed up the dehydrator as I was cutting my fruit. It took me about 35 minutes to have all the fruit cut up and in the dehydrator.  So it wasn't an all day kind of project, like canning, and I felt so productive when it was finished :)

**Just a note about some fruits turning brown while they dry.  Fruits like bananas will need to be sprayed with lemon juice (straight from the bottle, not diluted) before drying. This will keep them from turning black.  Don't worry if you don't do this, the food is still good, just not as appealing. 

Dehydrating is such a great way to have fruits in your long term storage.  If you use oxygen packs or a foodsaver the fruit will last much longer on your shelf.  Fresh produce will be the first food group to disappear in a disaster/emergency.  If you have your shelves lined with dehydrated fruit you will peace of mind. 

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