Monday, July 8, 2013

Adventures In Dehydration

So, there has been a dehydrator just sitting in the box in my study collecting dust since the holidays (I have a small kitchen yo).  The idea of using it was a little daunting.  I was super worried about not leaving things in long enough, leaving them in too long, wasting food, and being an overall failure at it.

A sale on strawberries finally made me break down and use it.  I had so many and didn't know how to use them all before they went bad.  I decided to make some homemade fruit leather out of it.  Many of the recipes I found could be made in an oven, but highly suggested using a dehydrator instead.  I gave in and decided to try it out.

The fruit leather was super easy to make.  It starts with cut up fresh strawberry bits in a double boiler, or if you are me you just use a pot inside a slightly bigger pot.  Cooking level: college student.


You know the strawberries are done when they become mushy and a lot of syrupy juice leaks out.  The next part calls for a blender, but I don't trust mine ever since my ex roommates left some kind of juice in it for a very long time.  I really should just throw it out and buy a new one since I refuse to use it anyways.

Once again, I had to improvise.  I used a potato masher.  It worked pretty well, it would have been better with some kind of blender, but it still was acceptable.

I was also a bit unsure of using plastic wrap on a dehydrator tray.  I figured that would make it not work right or something.  Well, it was all part of the experiment, so I gave it a try.

I spread the strawberry goop as evenly as possible on the tray and let it dehydrate for about six hours or so.

Doesn't look too great.
The Pintester did something really similar using her oven, and I think she put it best.  It looks like dried up menstrual flow.

However, it still tasted really good.  A little tart, but really good.

I did mess up a bit.  My dehydrator is a little uneven in it's dehydrating.  The half that I tested was nice and ready, the other half still was a little moist.  I just ate that part and saved the rest.

Since the fruit leather only took up one tray, I decided to get a little adventurous and try my hand at something else at the same time.  I had an apple in my fridge just begging to have the moisture pulled out of it.

I was a little worried, every website I looked at suggested using something called "fresh fruit" to stop fruit from oxidizing in the dehydrator.  It might just be me, but I always assumed people got dehydrators to eat heathy and stay away from any kind of preservatives.  I knew I still had a bunch of lemons, and that lemons prevent oxidization.  Since it was only one apple, I soaked the slices in a bath of cold water and fresh lemon juice instead and gave it a shot. 

Lemon apples taste pretty good by themselves
They got a tiny bit brown, but not enough to bother anyone.  Actually, I think they came out pretty good.  I should have peeled the apple first, leaving the peel on makes it take a lot longer to dehydrate.

Then I got the fever.  The "will it dehydrate" fever.  This was the most fun I had since my "will it blend  smoothie making phase.

I tried my lemon water trick with bananas.  I didn't let them dehydrate all the way, instead I took them out when they were still a little gummy like.  As long as you eat them in a few days and keep them refrigerated  they make a really good snack.  I defiantly will try them again fully dehydrated too.
Healthy goodness
I also did some carrots.  Apparently, you are supposed to cook them and shock them a bit.  I think they came out just fine.  They are great when I want something healthy and crunchy.

I did a batch of oranges too.  However, they were mostly eaten while they were dehydrating, so I didn't get a picture.  They would be great for homemade teas.  I want to try lemon slices now too.

I learned a lesson.  Dehydrating things is simple, requires little effort, and produces great results.  I highly suggest giving it a try.  The price of the unit is well worth all the cheap healthy snacks.  I am looking forward to making new fruit leathers and trying new fruits and vegetables.  

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