The summer harvest season is upon us, which means it's time to begin preserving your favorite fruits and vegetables. Many foods can be dehydrated, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. Drying foods is a great way to easily preserve food so it can be enjoyed all year long.
Here are a few tips to help you begin processing your food by dehydration:
Always use fresh produce.
Slice fruits and vegetables to about a half inch in thickness. For plums and apricots, slice in half and place them skin side down. This will make it much easier to remove them from the trays when they have finished drying.
Peal, core or remove pits/seeds before dehydrating peaches, pears and apples.
Sweeteners can be added if desired, either by sprinkling it on the fruit after it's on the tray or by dipping fruit in a sweet liquid.
Set the dehydrator temperature, usually between 125 and 140.
Turn the dehydrator on and check every 4 hours, until the fruit/veggies appear to be getting close to being completely dry; then check more frequently. At the temperature above, it should take approximately 18 to 24 hours, depending on the type of fruit and the thickness of the cut. When the food feels dry, turn off the dehydrator and let cool.
If the food feels cold to the touch after it has cooled, it may not be completely dry. In that case, return the cold food to the dehydrator for more drying time.
Remove the food and store in glass jars, using an oxygen absorber or food saver attachment to suck out the air; or place fruit in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber to keep it fresh for longer periods of time.
When drying apples, save the peels and cores to make applesauce or fruit leather. To make applesauce, place the cores and peals in a pot, add a little water, and cook until soft. Strain the cooked fruit, then pour into jars. Place warm, clean lids and rings on the jars, then put them in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes if you are processing pints or 25 minutes for quarts.
For fruit leather, follow applesauce instructions, but instead of bottling, pour the applesauce onto the fruit leather trays and dehydrate until dry. Peal the mixture off the trays and wrap in plastic wrap.