Dried Delights

I have had my food dehydrator for about a month now and I absolutely love it!  So far I have dried several fruits and made fruit rolls.  Eventually I will try some other things that I have seen out there but for right now I’m just sticking to the simple things.  Keep in mind that just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it’s boring because I have definitely taken the simple and mixed it up some.  I’ve done this by trying fruits that you don’t always see in the dried fruit section.  I have also done a lot of the standards because they are standards for a reason, they are awesome!  I started with bananas.  I was particularly excited about this one but also somewhat worried.  I am a banana chip fiend.  Unfortunately, the banana chips that you get in the store are fried in coconut oil and extra sugars, not the healthiest snack.  What if I got this dehydrator for banana chips and don’t like plain, old, dried bananas?  Luckily I didn’t have too much to worry about.  They definitely aren’t like the banana chips from the store but I think they have a more banana-y flavor and they are also on the chewy side which adds that extra dimension.  When doing the bananas I do treat them prior to drying.  I used citric acid but you can use any fruit preserver or lemon juice solution.

DSC00657As for drying times you can refer to your dehydrator manual or reference on-line sources.  The first few times I ran it I was super conscious of the times.  I have since become a lazy dehydrator and just start it in the evening and let it run over night.  I haven’t had any issues with this but I’m also ok if I have some stuff that’s a little more crispy than it otherwise would be.  Moving on from bananas I went to the peaches (these also need to be treated to prevent discoloration) which I love and are a little on the sweet-tart side.  Then I got into some of the more uncommon items.  The first of which was cantaloupe.  Why not?  I had gotten some in my last basket, I’d just gotten the dehydrator and I was excited to use it and try anything.  The cantaloupe chips are actually really good and intensify the flavor.  I like to eat fresh cantaloupe with a little salt and pepper so next time I try them I may sprinkle with salt and pepper before drying.  Next was one of my favorite fruits which have a very short season, don’t last very long before going bad, and can get expensive, FIGS!DSC00707

What better way to take something you love but rots fast and make it last much longer than drying it.  I was all set to do my figs and I go to Trader Joes to buy some and they no longer had them.  Talk about being disappointed.  A few days later though I was at Sprouts and low and behold they had some late season figs and on sale even!  So into the dehydrator they went.  I quartered them so they were much thicker than fruits I had done before so they took quite a bit longer to dry but they are absolutely fabulous and three weeks later I’m still able to enjoy my occasional fig.  The latest fruit is another classic, pineapple.  I still had the two from my basket so I sliced them up (yay they were still good!) and threw them in.  They were probably a little on the crisp side from following my lazy dehydration method but I like that they are more like chips than chewy candy.  And yet again you are saving yourself all those calories making it fresh versus the super sugary dried pineapple in the stores, plus it just tastes better.  Now that I have all these various dried fruits I’m thinking it may be time to develop some trail mixes by adding some nuts and maybe a few sweets here that there (dark chocolate makes it ok right).  So if someone asked me about whether my purchase of yet another kitchen gadget was worth it I would tell them “ABSOLUTELY!”  DSC00736

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