Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dehydrated Fruit Snacks

One day, we went to my in-laws to pick through some of their stuff before they had a garage sale. When I saw the food dehydrator, I was immediately interested but hesitant. I was hesitant because if I took it, it would be another kitchen device that we might rarely use and need to find cupboard space for. For my first time using the machine, I decided to try a variety of foods, to test out which ones I liked.

Out of all of the fruits, I liked the bananas the best. We didn't leave them in the machine long enough to have them turned into the super hard shaving found in many nasty trail mixes. I also decided to leave them thicker. To me, it seemed like, more than any other fruit, the bananas flavor was concentrated and sweetened by the dehydration process. I went into work for a few hours in the morning while these finished, and by the time I came home, the strawberries were gone.
The pears were Emery's favorite fruit. To prepare both these and the apples, I used Leigha's peeler/slicer/corer that may be older than either of us. The dehydrated pears maintained their flavor but what really surprised me was that they also kept grainy quality of the fruit that I find appealing.
The pineapples were the fruit that I was most looking forward to, as it is a common fruit to be sold dehydrated. As I was cutting the spiked outer layer of a fresh pineapple, it struck me as counterintuitive to buy a fresh pineapple only to dehydrate it. I'm sure that it created a higher quality product. As I was cutting it, I also realized that I had to eat it much differently than normal. I don't mind the black-speckled pock marks and generally don't cut too deep into the fruit. I also eat the core. It is really fiberous and harder to chew, but it tastes fine. As I was cutting the pineapple to rings, I unintentionally created Stars of David in the middle and wondered if this would be a way to sell it as a kosher food.
In the little booklet that came with the machine, it told me to leave the skin on the slices of oranges. This resulted in little slices of oranges that tasted like you were eating the peel. I will try making these again without the peel before I give up on them.
The apples were the food that I though changed the most during the dehydration process. It seemed like the citric acid diminished and left a milder, sweeter taste. I liked it a lot. It is a good thing that you can easily get apples all year round, meaning that it is a snack that I can make any time.

Pineapple, Banana, Pear, Apple
With the exception of the oranges, these snack all went over well at home. They were a healthy snack that I could eat during my vegetarian months and I have no problem giving the kids any time. The only thing that I'm unsure about is the texture. I think that I will try to make the bananas harder and crispier, but I don't know what to do with the apples and pears. They being the texture of a fruity rubbery leather. The pineapple ended up being nothing like the chuncks or slices that you buy dehydrated. I expected the sugars to crystalize around fruit, which just didn't happen. It wasn't a bad thing because it was still plenty sweet. Does anybody out there make their own dehydrated fruits? If so, what type of texture do you keep them? Any suggestions?

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