Making your own dried fruit
I would like to dry fruit myself, strawberries, cherries,blueberries etc. I'm thinking of getting a food dehydrator, has anyone tried this? any suggestions?
I haven't had success with bananas or strawberres (They've browned out on me), but I do lots of apples plus peaches, mangoes, pineapples, cherries. I don't use sulpher dioxide, so it doesn't get that wierd chemical taste that much storebought fruit gets. If you get fruit leather trays, you can toss the fruit in a blender and spread it out to get any flavor of fruit leather you like. (Oil the trays first though, you'll thank me) I also make jerky in the dehydrator.
Never tried it in the mixture; I'm not certain I want oily fruit. Has anyone else tried this approach? I just use a dipped paper towel to get a thin layer of canola oil across the plastic tray, then spread the blended fruit on top.
I like the idea to use plastic wrap in the dehydrator too.
Re: fruit leather. My mother used to make homemade apricot fruit leather that I just adored. I've been thinking about trying it, and got out the cookbook she used back in the day, _The Taming of the C.A.N.D.Y. Monster_ by Vicki Lansky. It's not really a recipe, but more of a technique.
Use fresh or even canned fruit for this fruit leather.
Peel and core fruit and toss in the blender until smooth, then cook five minutess over medium heat.
Remove frozen fruit from freezer and let defrost for about an hour. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat, mashing as you go. If very watery, drain off some of the liquid.
In both cases, when cooking, add 1t honey for each piece of fruit you're cooking.
Lay clear plastic wrap out on a cookie sheet. Spread fruit mixture on the plastic wrap, but don't get too close to the edge. Spread mixture as thinly and evenly as possible.
Place the tray in the oven on the lowest possible heat--even just the pilot light, potentially--and leave overnight, or 6-8 hours. Remove from the oven when it looks and feels right.
I remember it peeling pretty easily from the plastic wrap without any oil or butter, either on the wrap or in the recipe. It was only harder to peel if we got the edges of the fruit leather too thin.
I'm dried apples and, once, strawberries. They turn out fine. I sliced the apples crosswise, dipped in lemon juice and dried until leathery. The strawberries, I sliced lengthwise - in half or thirds, depending on the size. These were a great snack and delicious thrown into muffins or something. I only did the strawberries because I'd picked too many and they were dead ripe and I couldn't find another way of using them all up.
One tip: After the fruit is dried to a consistency you like, put them all in a big plastic bag or jar with a tight lid for at least a day or two. This allows the moisture to equalize - meaning that the more dried pieces pick up moisture from the less dried ones and vice versa. Gives you a better finished product.