Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dehydrating Fruit

I don't know if you love dehydrated fruit (or any fruit for that matter) as much as I do. But it's even BETTER homemade. When you buy dehydrated fruit from the store, it has sulphur-dioxide added to it, which not only makes it taste not as fresh and sweet, but has dangerous side effects as many additives often do. The sulphur-dioxide makes the fruit look prettier -- it maintains its color and looks nice in a package (or even in your hand before it reaches your mouth for that matter). Once you've tasted the homemade kind, you will detect that bitter additive and long for fresh and chemical-free!

Health food stores (and probably other stores now that health foods are more widely sold) do sell dried fruit without sulphur-dioxide. So if you don't have a dehydrator to make your own, you're not out of luck. It's pretty pricey though, which may not matter because you just don't eat a whole tray in a day like I have today. :) You'll get less, but high quality less.

I bought a lug of apricots from a friend who sells wholesale fruit (apricots, peaches, nectarines, apples, and one other thing I can never remember) each summer. These fruits don't grow in our climate (well, the apples do, but the rest don't), so a truck delivers them to her door and we come pick them up that day. I bought the apricots this time and most were ripe enough yesterday to split in half and put on my dehydrator trays.

Dehydrating fruit has got to be the easiest way to preserve them. Well, I guess freezing isn't that hard either. Both are raw methods and keep the maximum nutrients (and enzymes -- don't forget those enzymes!) in tact. But canning -- as fun as it is -- is much more laborious and messy! Lots of steps there. Simplicity here.

My dehydrator is in my laundry room and each time I opened that laundry room door yesterday, I got this most wonderful whiff of warming apricots. Just loved it! I ate a few last night as they warmed -- like I imagine my grandpa might have had my grandmother warm on the stove to go with some Half & Half or something.

Then this morning I ran down after my workout and found them most of the way done. Crispy on the edges -- still a bit soft in the middle. I stopped peaches once last summer at this stage and as wonderful as they were to eat, they rotted after about a week. They didn't have enough moisture out of them. So I've continued to let them dry. And I've been eating and eating them all day long. I need to go drink a few quarts of water to equal out the fruit I've eaten! Notice 1/2 the apricots on that tray are gone? So are the ones on the tray beneath it? I can share some of that blame with my daughter, but most is due to me. Truly tasty!

I have some apricots left that weren't quite ripe enough. My daughter has been asking and asking for me to make fruit leather out of them instead. I think I will by blending them up with some apples. Should be tasty. I just love the tartness that comes with dehydrating fruit. Reminds me of all the candies I used to love as a child -- like SweeTarts or Spree. I imagine if I ate either of those now, I'd realize how artificial they are, but they were my early fling with sour (that and all the lemons that wrecked the enamel on my teeth! :))

I'll post my recipe for the fruit leather once I make it. I've made it before with frozen berries, peaches and mangoes too, but I've never written down what I did. Have to start doing that if I want to repeat my favorites. That's for sure.

I'm also in search of a good recipe for Swiss Chard so what I have in the fridge won't go bad. If I find something simple and great, I'll be sure to share. After all, it's been awhile since I've posted a raw recipe. TTFN!

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