We try to save money on our food bills but with a family, that is a trick in itself. Fresh fruits and veggies seem to cost more and spoil sooner. If you and your family love to eat fresh fruits, one way to be sure they won’t spoil is to dry them.
Dried fruits can serve as a healthy alternative to candy. Instead of reaching for chocolate or a piece of hard candy, the kids will reach for a dried pineapple or apple slices. The sweetness of the fruit is concentrated when it is dried and bursts forth with every bite. How much money do you think your family will save by not buying little bags of fruit snacks? How about combining some of your favorite dried fruits into your own trail mixes? Options are limitless.
Learning to dry fruit is a fairly easy process. You don’t need to buy any fancy equipment. Investing in a few sealing jars would be nice so that storing the fruit will be easier, but it isn’t a necessity. Sealing jars can be found fairly inexpensive at many supermarkets. While expensive equipment isn’t necessary, I find it much easier to use a food dehydrator and a food vacuum sealer.
To start, gather all of the fruits you want to dry. Most fruits make good choices. Some of the more common ones are: pineapples, apples, plums, grapes, apricots, and tomatoes (yes they are a fruit!). If you favor lemons, limes, or other citrus fruits, you will be drying the peels and not the fruit itself.
All fruit and equipment need to be clean and thoroughly dried before beginning. Drying racks are needed if you plan on air drying outside or using an oven. Some pieces may be done before others so rotating the trays in the oven gives you a chance to remove any fruit that is already dried and replace with another.
Slice the fruit into small pieces. Apples need to be cored and peeled before slicing. Tomatoes can be cut into slices or quarters and salted before drying. I prefer quartering. Also consider using some really flavorful tomatoes like grape or cherry.Grapes and plums are okay as is because the skin doesn’t affect their taste.
If you prefer to use the microwave to dry your fruit, place small batches in the microwave on the turntable tray. Fruit pieces should be evenly spaced to allow for air circulation while drying. Set the microwave to the defrost setting in order to dry the fruit. It will take about thirty to forty-five minutes. Check after thirty minutes and gradually add time as needed. It is not recommended that tomatoes be dried via the microwave because they should be dried at approximately 120 degrees for about twenty-four hours.
You can eat some of these tasty treats as soon as they are dried or you can save some for later. If storing for later, let the fruit cool before placing in sealing jars or plastic bags. Dried fruits will keep for up to two weeks in a cool dark place. However, these fruit treats are so scrumptious they may not even last for that long.
Dried fruit has a multitude of uses. It can be eaten as is or as a flavorful addition to ice cream, salads, pizzas, sauces and more. Drying your fruits will save you money because it makes the fruit last longer than normal, you avoid spoilage and it gives you a reason to eat more of it.
Plan for those seasonal fruits going on sale soon and save your family some money by drying your own fruit. If you shop garage sales or craigslist you can keep an eye out for a great deal on a food dehydrator and have even less work.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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