I thought I would try my hand at dehydrating some bananas for homemade trail mix. It went great! Be patient with dehydrating foods (think days)-they take a while but require no supervision-just an occasional check to see how dry the food is getting. I like doing my own food because I know the temperature hasn’t reached above 105F, thus the good nutrients have been preserved, along with the flavor. I choose to dehydrate foods that only need to be cut up and tossed on the screen. I have tried: cranberries, raisins, bananas, mint leaves and fruit leathers.
Cranberries-the easiest thing to dry. I buy them around Thanksgiving when they are easy to be found, and usually on sale! I store them in the freezer until I am ready to dehydrate them. Just toss them on the rack (doesn’t seem to matter if they have been thawed or not) and turn on your dehydrator. I left them still a bit puffed because I like the pop they make in my mouth when I bite down. I use them in trail mix along with nuts & seeds. Yum!
Raisins-I tried this once and decided not to do it again. Stores in my area do not carry organic grapes and they are on the list of the dirty dozen
. So, I find it best to buy organic raisins in my local supermarket. Do I know if they have been kept below 105F? No, but I have decided, in this instance, organic trumps the overheating. Plus, they take a LONG time to fully dehydrate.
Bananas-Super-easy to dehydrate. I sliced them thinly and placed on the rack. They ended up sticking a little bit, I have tried spraying the screen with olive oil but did not find it to stick less. These little bits of fruit are super sweet and, depending on how you like them, can range from chewy in texture or crunchy.
Mint Leaves-This year I bought some Chocolate Mint and Spearmint from Soulard Market
. My plants grew well (I kept them in pots to make sure they did not take over my garden). They smell delicious-just rub the leaves a bit and a wonderful aroma is left on your fingers. I tried drying the leaves and all seemed ok but they discolored to a brown color (that is normal) and crumbled at the slightest touch. I guess the little pieces are ok for tea but they were hard to work with.
Fruit Leathers-Like fruit roll ups but hate that they are made out of sugar water and fruit flavoring? No fear! Get a dehydrator and make your own! Almost any pureed fruit can be poured onto a dehydrator screen (use the insert that is a full sheet of plastic-spray with oil first), sprinkle with cinnamon or whatever you like and dry away! I made cinnamon applesauce fruit leathers and they were good but hard to chew (I dried them for too long). I used store bought organic applesauce and sprinkled cinnamon on the top of it. Good stuff!
I encourage you to try different types of food preparation. I received my dehydrator as a gift from the neighbors (thank’s L&C) and have enjoyed messing around with it. Knowing how our food is prepared is just as important as knowing where it comes from, how it was treated, the farmer’s values and how the workers were paid. Lots of things to consider (and sometimes compromise on) but it’s your health afterall!!
You can borrow my dehydrator to try your own things too…:)
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