Saturday, July 7, 2012

One way to deal with a heatwave - dry some fruit!

Drying foods is the earliest form of preservation. It not only saves your fruits and berries, the drying process amplifies their sweetness. You don't need some new-fangled contraption, either. Actually, you don't even need an appliance at all.

You can look up many designs for making a solar drying box, but I'm a simple girl, so I kept it really basic.

I sliced mangos, strawberries, bananas and apples, and also threw in some blueberries.

Try to cut your fruit into even pieces. For the mango, I dried it as is. But everything else was soaked in a simple sugar syrup for ten minutes, either to counter tartness or prevent oxidation.

I laid the fruit in shallow boxes, lined in a dark colored fabric. I placed a dark colored cotton cloth over the top and taped it in place. I then placed it in direct sunlight, away from  where  insects could get them. I have an umbrella clothes line that I could set the boxes on.

Temperatures were well into the hundreds and the air was really dry. Most of the fruit was fairly dry by evening, but I chose to finish them in the oven overnight. I could have left them for two days outdoors or placed glass or clear plastic over the boxes for one day. However, the fruit is now perfectly dry, and I will keep it in a paper bag for two days to equalize it. Not allowing good ventilation in the first few day can cause mold.

Have fun experimenting with different fruits, and drying will give an exceptionally long shelf life to save those fruits that might end up as compost. Don't forget to dry veggies too!

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