DRYING SUMMER FRUITS


from July 1986 "Drying Times"


by Barb Moody

Summer signals the start of the busy drying season. Beginning with strawberries, there is a constant stream of delicious fruits that you will want to dry. Here are some suggestions that will make the task of drying everything seem a little less overwhelming.

SLICE FRUITS IN THIN PIECES FOR FASTER DRYING

Thinly sliced fruit dries faster and with better quality than thick pieces. Even grapes and blueberries, notoriously slow drying fruits, will dry faster when sliced. With juicy fruits allow adequate space between slices.

WAYS OF INCREASING YOUR DRYING VOLUME

Use tray liners when drying fruit. When fruit is almost dry, remove liners with fruit still on them. Stack liners and fruit on the bottom tray and refill the upper trays. The fruit on the tray liners will finish drying while the fresh fruit begins to dry.

*NOTE: A "tray liner" is a piece of screening set loosely into the dehydrator tray. It's not a mandatory piece of equipment, but occasionally it's very handy.

If you are using a Living Foods Dehydrator, you can increase volume by adding an extra tray. Simply remove the lid and place the extra tray on the top tray tracks. Place lid over the top of the extra tray. Use this technique with discretion, it is easy to overload your dehydrator this way.

WHEN YOU CAN'T DRY IT RIGHT AWAY

When your dehydrator is full or it is simply not convenient to dry food, there are ways you can postpone drying some fruits.

Certain fruits such as apples and pears, as well as many vegetables (root veggies and most varieties of squash) may be stored for several weeks in a cool dry area.

Berries such as strawberries and blueberries may be frozen until it is convenient to dry them.
Note: Slice strawberries and lay slices on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, the slices may be removed and packaged in a plastic bag. Also, if you don't wash blueberries before freezing, they won't stick together.

Fruit that is very ripe or too plentiful to deal with at once, may be pureed and frozen until it is convenient to make fruit leathers.