Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dried Fruit

Preservation of the harvest is of primary importance at the time of harvest.  Some foods require little preservation such as Potatoes or Onions.  But there are some foods that require quick preservation like Peaches, Cherries, and Chiles.
With Cherries most people would quickly think to preserve them as a Jam, which are actually called Preserves.  Preserves are great, but I was thinking more portable, and less sugar.  Dehydrated Cherries are good to eat just as they are, or mixed with a snack nut mix.
When the water in the Cherries evaporates their flavor intensifies because it becomes concentrated.  Cherries have a mix of sweet and tart.  This is way better than any candy.  The sugars get squeezed out of the cells as the cells shrink during the process, and this makes them sticky.  They stuck to the dehydrator shelf.
The difference in color is dramatic.  You could probably put a coating of pectin on the exterior if you wanted the finished product to be lighter.  Another fruit I tried dehydrating is Figs.  A neighbor has a Fig Tree, and it is super abundant, so he's giving them away like crazy.
The Figs are too big to fit in my dehydrator, so we'll Sun Dry them.  There are many ways to cure Figs, and the one I picked is Sun Drying, because its August, in Texas.  Got plenty of heat out there.  I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but like the Cherries, they turned darker as they dehydrated, and became much sweeter.  Using a sheet pan is probably not the best way to do this.  Next time I'll make a dehydration box that has screens on it to keep the critters out.

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