Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Dehydrating

Some jars of flavor!

It's not new to most, but it's new to me...dehydrating. I posted about our first attempt at using the bargain dehydrator J picked up recently. Here's an update of how things are progressing.

This shot is the After of the sliced mangoes and strawberries. You can see how much they shrank compared to before.

I've still not perfected the timing, and I think these turned out a lot crisper than what I'd associate with dried fruit products in the grocery store. But I'm not sure how to compare them. First, I did not pre-treat any of the fruit to keep it from darkening during drying, except that when I did apples, I cut them on the same board I'd just cut mangoes and oranges, and I think the acid in the juices kept them a lighter color than they'd be otherwise.

So far, I've experimented with drying mangoes, strawberries, oranges, and apples. Next up will be onions, but I didnt want to put them in the same drying as fruits in case somehow the flavors would blend (don't know if that happens).

I've not perfected the thickness of the slices of fruits yet...still not sure how pliant the end result should be. We're in Florida, and humidity here makes things spoil quickly, and I think I dried everything beyond what I should for snacking. The mango slices are crispy, like a chip, and so are the strawberries.

But what they lack in chewiness, they certainly make up for in concentrated flavor. Wow, it packs a powerful taste punch!

So far, I've used the dried strawberries in our granola with milk, as a cold cereal, and they are great. I used the apples to mix with raw almonds and (store bought) dried cranberries, to pack as a snack in J's work lunches. And I've used the dried mangos, crumbled into smaller pieces, in hot oatmeal...and J loves it!

Here is a pic of the mangos plumping up when boiled in the oatmeal (along with some dried cranberries, which also plump up considerably). They turn plump and tender in no time in a hot liquid. J's used some of the dried fruit in his hot morning tea, too. We eat a lot of oatmeal for breakfast because it's healthy, cheap, and it sticks to your ribs for hours till lunchtime. The fruits make it anything but boring, and a generous pat of real butter and even some raw almonds cooked in it make it even more delicious.

And here is where they disappear :)

Here's a pic of the oranges, which I dried with skins on (not sure why). I have a feeling they might be really terrific to whip up a homemade batch of Orange Chicken...an addiction my daughter has at a local Chinese takeout. I'll be looking for a good (easy) recipe and see if I can approximate it...I notice they had dried orange peels in the sauce, and it was fragrant and intensely "orangey."

Another shot...looks like a bird shape in the middle. Ah, playing with food...

(Photo credits for the two orange shots go to my daughter, Rachel, the REAL photographer around here) :)


Meg said...

Cool! We ordered a dehydrator last week and I'm so glad to have your experiences to use as a cheat cheat! Do you know if there's a preferred way to store dried stuff? If we get a ton of strawberries in the summer and dry them, will they keep for a year?

Robbyn said...

Oh, neat..so glad you have one, too! We're really new at this and I don't know the answers to your questions...if you find out first, let us know! :)