Preserving food in the fall has always been a past time of mine that I truly love and adore. As a child, I did lots of canning, freezing and pickling etc. The one that is so near and dear to my heart though is dehydrating, because I absolutely love dried fruit. In fact, in my younger years, I have even eaten dried fruit to the point of stomach pain. The pain occurs because eating dried fruit will pull out too much water from your intestinal track and can give you gas, bloating and sometimes constipation. So once again moderation in all things is indeed important even when eating something healthy like fruit. The other problem I have found for myself and a great deal of other patients is that when you buy store bought dried fruit they often put sulfur on it as a preservative for color and brightness and this is an allergen and irritant for many people causing farting after they have eaten the fruit. So our family has always purchased dried fruit that is just the dehydrating process meaning things like apricots will look brown in the process but still taste delicious.
One of the ways to turn too much fruit into something that can last is to dehydrate it. I like to do 2 of my favorite dried fruits which are not as easy to find in stores except certain seasons; persimmons and pears. On our family farm near my grandparents’ over 100-year-old farm house we have a small family orchard that has many different fruit trees. When we go home on weekends to visit my family, I usually bring multiple boxes of fruit back to eat fresh and also to preserve. On the last pilgrimage to the family farm, I came home with pears, apples, prunes ( a type of plum) and the first soft persimmons from the tree.
How to get started:
Purchase a dehydrator – can usually find them for sale on Craigslist, Ebay or online. The most important thing to look for is one that can change the dehydrating temperatures since different food products need to be cooked at different temperatures so they dry equally.
Find an abundant amount of fruit for cheap. Local farms will let you do gleaning sometimes and this means picking fruit from the ground that has a damaged portion. The damage may be a bird pecked the apple, bruising or sunburn. Cut it off and it will dehydrate just fine.
Find a time amount for chewiness level you like. I will make recommendations on times to follow but if you like your dried fruit chewy, it will be quite different than if you want it to be crispy like a chip. I like it chewy like a jerky or fruit leather.
Plug it in and get started!!! Cut fruit and have fun!
Temperature recommendations and times:
Fig – Preparation: Wash, cut out blemishes, quarter and spread one layer deep.
Test: pliable. Temperature: 145 Degrees. Time: 24-30 hours
Apples – Preparation: Pare, core and cut 3/8” slice or rings.
Test: Pliable. Temperature: 145 Degrees. Time 10-14 hours
Pears – Slice and remove core cut into 3/8” slices.
Test: Pliable. Temperature 145 Degrees. Time 24-26 hours.
Apricots – Preparation: Cut in halves.
Test: Pliable Temperature 145 Degrees. Time 24-30 hours
Prunes – Prunes dry faster when cut in half, remove pits, slice 3/8” slice and dry.
Test: Pliable. Temperature 145 Degrees. Time 24-30 hours
Persimmons – Wash; remove the cap, slice in 3/8” circles. Do it when still translucent but not mushy.
Test: Pliable. Temperature 145 Degrees. Time: 14-18 hours
Beets – Remove all but /12” tops scrub thoroughly, steam till tender then peel and cut to ¼” rounds.
Test: Leathery. Temperature 135 Degrees. Time 9-12 hours.
Cucumber – Wash cut into 1/8” slices and dry.
Test: Leathery. Temperature: 135 Degrees. Time 5-8 hours.
Peppers – Remove seeds, wash and dry. Chop or cut into ¼” strips or rings.
Test: Leathery. Temperature 135 Degrees. Time 5-7 hours.
Tomatoes – Slice into ¼” circles and dry
Test: Leathery for sun dried tomato. Temperature 135 degrees. Time 6-8 hours.
Fun Fact: My favorite dried fruits are Persimmons, Pears and Apples.