Monday, October 6, 2014

Dehydrated Pears: A Sweet Snack



Dehydrated fruits are a delicious snack you can make at home.  Pears from your organic orchard  are nutritious and easily enjoyed throughout the season when dehydrated.  There are three principles to consider when dehydrating.
  1.  Heat:  The temperature needs to be controlled and  high enough to force moisture out of the fruit.
  2. Dry Air:  Needed to absorb the moisture released from the food
  3. Air Circulation:  to move the moisture away
When food is properly dehydrated 80-95% if the moisture will be removed from the food.


Methods of dehydrating:


Sun Drying or Room Drying:  This method requires warm days of around 90 degrees, low humidity, a means to control insects, and clean air.


Oven drying:  Because of energy costs, this is only a good options for small batches


Commercial  Dehydrators:   The dehydrators provide the most consistent and reliable results.  The fruit dries evenly, quickly, and the quality is excellent with this method.



Always Start Fresh


You want to use fresh, high quality fruit.  That is the benefit of having a home orchard.  Pears are relatively easy fruit to grow. They are very productive and tend to bloom late enough to miss early frosts.  I have one Bartlet pear and a Packman pear.  The Bartlet's are my favorite.  One tree gives our family plenty of pears for eating, canning, and drying. 





Pretreating the Fruit


Dipping pears in a pretreatment prevents them from oxidizing.  The fruit will brown, lose some Vitamin A and Vitamin C during oxidization.  Lemon juice makes an excellent natural pretreatment.



Use 1 cup of lemon juice to one quart of water

It is best to not leave the fruit in the dip for more than 10 minutes.



Preparing the Pears


Any variety of pears can be used.  Wash the pears.  I like to slice the pears into quarters, then core and peel each quarter. Cut into 1/2 slices You can use a apple corer and slicer.  I think it leaves the pieces too small and prefer to do it by hand.  Place the sliced pears in the pretreatment.  Every 10 minutes remove the pears from the pretreatment and place on trays. Individual fruit pieces should not be touching each other so air can circulate.



Dry pears at 130 to 135 degrees until leathery. 

Because it is difficult to slice evenly, be sure to check for doneness frequently and remove any fruit that is done.





Storage


Store the dried pears in an airtight container and away from light.  You can put an oxygen absorber packet in for longer storage.  I like to use gallon size mason jars.


Vaccum pack some  for longer storage life.  In some cases it can extend the shelf life 3-5 times longer.

Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place these delicious snacks will store for 1 year.  Don't count on them lasting that long!






 




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