Me and the Bestie have been discussing food dehydrators for ages. Neither of us likes the fact that most of the 'good' dried fruit (strawberries, pineapple, mango, etc) have sugar added to them. These fruits are naturally sweet enough without the added nasties, thank you! Preservatives are also a big thing for my Bestie, because her eldest is allergic to them, and just about all dried fruit have them too.
So we've been talking. And talking. And still neither of us had one. They are just too expensive given our current economic climate.
And then Facebook advertised Groupon. Groupon had food dehydrators drastically reduced. Unfortunately the promotion is no longer available, but if you're not sure what Groupon is or how it works, wander over and have a look around, here. You might just find a bargain on something else you've been looking for. It was a little bit of a risk for me, I have to admit. I'd never purchased from any of these kinds of sites before, but I knew this has been around for a while, and I actually signed up with them ages ago, but ignore the emails more often than not. But for a saving of around 75% I figured it was worth a shot. I did do a little research on the brand, and it seemed to be ok.
My foray into fruit drying.
In a glass bowl I covered the apple slices in soda water and left to soak for 5 minutes. Cold tap water and 1/2 squeezed lemon works just as well as soda water. Both these methods help to stop the apple slices turning brown. After 5 minutes place the apple slices on some paper towel to dry a bit, then lay out on dehydrator tray in a single layer.
With the three trays stacked on top of each other, and the lid on top, I set the temperature to 60C and the timer for 10 hours. And then hung around the house all day to make sure nothing would burn, catch fire, or melt! Success!!
The apples were probably the best result, and I've since done another batch of them overnight for 11 hours on 55C with similar results. I've read that green apples give more crunchy chips, but I kind of like the softer chewy texture of these.
Both the pineapple and the strawberries could have been dried longer and/or hotter. Both were quite soft even though they were dried, but they were still really nice. I will try another batch of strawberries soon, and give the pineapple a go closer to summer when they are more abundant. I have to say, though, the glass jars they were kept in are now empty!
As a final note - my first trial of the dehydrator was sweet potato chips! They were awesome, but needs some fine tuning. Once I get the hang of that recipe I will do a post about veggie chips! So stay tuned.