Summer means a lot of time spent out in the sun, which also means good snacks and lots of water are essential. But healthy, high energy foods like strawberries, bananas and pineapple can get messy (and sticky too). The easy solution?...
The idea is nothing new, but we felt like it deserved a little revisiting. Dried fruits at the store can be expensive, and full of added sugar, which will only lead to sugar highs and sugar lows. So why not buy the freshest fruit of the season, at the store or your local farmers market, flip the oven on its lowest setting and enjoy the fruits of your labors?
I recently was lucky enough to borrow a friends dehydrator, but the oven is just as effective (although it does take a bit more time and energy), and if you live in a desert climate like Arizona, some racks out in the sun for a few days should also do the trick. For this round of drying I chose strawberries, bananas and pineapples for their wonderful energy giving nutrients like potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C (they were on sale too). Then just sliced them up! Kids can definitely help with projects like this, especially with fruits like bananas. Just make sure kid safe knives are in use.
Six to eight hours later and you have an easily portable, non messy/sticky, nutritious snack perfect for afternoons in the sun, or those long summer road trips. But why stop there? Add your newly dried fruits to granola, or stir them together with oats, nuts and some honey and bake for amazing snack and trail bars.
First off, get the delicious fruits of your choice.
Then turn on the oven to between 140-200 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever your lowest temperature setting is.
Next turn on your convection fan if you have one, if not make sure and crack the oven door to let out moisture. If you have a dehydrator set it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wait 6-8 hours (4-6 with a dehydrator) and check your fruit. If its dry, you're done!
*Note: there are many philosophies on drying that include a dip in ascorbic acid solution (crushed vitamin C tabs in water) and pasteurization (heating to high temperatures or deep freezing) that you can add in as you wish. Happily I'm quite sure the fruit I dried will be consumed rather quickly (so yummy!) so I wasn't too worried about that here.
It might take a bit of time, but the benefits are well worth it!
*Last time in Recipes: Food for Fathers