Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dehydrating fruit

When Ron Popeil first came out with the food dehydrator, I thought it was a useless piece of equipment because I did not have a purpose for it. I was also not a big fan of dried food. Now that I have been shopping at Haymarket and developed a taste for dried fruit, my opinion of the food dehydrator has changed. However, after reading numerous reviews of several machines, I decided to forget the Popeil model and go with the Nesco square dehydrator, which has more space on each tray because the trays are square and not round. The fan on top also seemed like a good idea.

If the haymarket connection is not abundantly clear, here it is: I have a tendency to buy too much fresh produce there and can't possibly eat all of it before it goes bad. So, one way of preserving the excess food is to dehydrate it and store it. Dehydrated foods can keep for up to a year. Freezing might be another option but some vegetables and fruits just don't freeze very well. Also, there is limited space in my freezer because I share it with three room mates. The other advantage to eating dried fruit is that it's less messy than eating fresh fruit. Whenever I snack on dried fruit, I consume several servings of fruit in one sitting. It's just a healthy way to snack.

So, what should you dry? The short answer would be "almost anything" but I have found that some fruits taste better than others. For me, strawberries need a little something (like honey) to make them taste good in dehydrated form. For those of you who like a little bit of tartness in your fruit, you will like dried kiwi and strawberries. Pineapple, however, is sweet enough on its own. Peaches, mangos, and apples are quite good too. Dried bananas are also surprisingly tasty. They taste like chewy candy!

To show you the degree of shrinkage that you'll see, I've posted some before and after photos of several trays of fruit.

Citrus slices - before
Citrus slices - after

Mango and Banana slices - before

Mango and Banana slices - after
Pineapple chunks and Mango slices - before

Pineapple chunks and mango slices - after

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