Do you like dried fruit?

I dried a couple of batches of Italian Prune Plums last month and just opened a packet up today. They are so good, chewier and not sticky like plums from the store. They are also more flavorful, contain no preservatives and are and a whole lot cheaper. I love canning but drying is my favorite way to preserve Summer just because it is so easy.

I am always amazed when I encounter people who say they don’t like or have never had dried fruit. Neither mom nor Grandma kept candy or stuff like Twinkies around but we always had fruit and dried fruit available for snacks.  Dried foods are also lightweight, easy to store and travel with. Remember those little boxes of raisins?

Do you need an expensive dehydrator?

No. I love the big, fancy Excalibur models but honestly, I’ve owned three of these Nesco dehydrators. They don’t last for ever but they’ve held up well to pretty heavy use  for me. I make fruit leathers, dried mushrooms, vegetables and herbs and I also dry slices of raw sweet potato for dog treats.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a technique.

Have you ever read an old style book on dehydrating? They usually discuss blanching (dunking your fruit or vegetables in boiling water for varying numbers of minutes) and sulfering which makes the fruit look like the stuff in the stores and also gives most people gas. I consider both of these to be industrial methods suited to farms and factories, not kitchens. Since I can pick fresh, ripe produce and I also don’t need it to last on a shelf for years, I keep the method simple.

For the plums pictured below I wash them thoroughly, slice each in half, remove the pit and arrange them cut side down on the trays. As a variation, the cut side can be sprinkled with cinnamon, ginger and/or salt before  drying. I start with 1/2 an hour or so at high heat and then dry at below medium heat until they are leathery. Once your fruit is dry, let it cool and seal it into jars or vacuum pouches. YUM!

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More Goodies from the Kitchen This is an old post that has lost its pictures, sorry!