I am so not a sweet-tooth! I can’t stand most dehydrated fruits, because by the very act of dehydration, every single flavor gets concentrated. Which in the case of fruit, means sugar. Thankfully, over the years I’ve weaned myself off the majority of sugary things — sugar is a seasoning that needs to be dealt with on a minimal basis these days. A little is wonderful; but it goes a long way… Also, with certain fruits, there’s a textural issue. I’m so not fond of gummy, and never have been, even as a child. (This is a severe Understatement. You will never see recipes for “leathers” here…)
The only fruits I will dehydrate in my spiffy Excalibur dehydrator are strawberries, cranberries and grape tomatoes. All of these come with sufficient tartness to mellow out the sugar, and none of these have that “gummy” texture I intensely dislike.
Cranberries are for autumn, so maybe I’ll discuss those, then.
About a year or so ago I bought the Excalibur dehydrator via Amazon, after doing some research. It costs a bit more than other dehydrators, but I liked the features. You can set temperature, and it heats more evenly than most other dehydrators, where food rotation is recommended during the drying process. They sell a small 4-tray version, a larger surface area 5-tray version, and a 9-tray version where the trays are the same size as the 5-tray version. They also make models where the time for dehydrating can be set. I opted for the 5-tray version without the timer — on a humid day, if the timer goes off and you are away, the stuff in the dehydrator is simply going to add back in a bunch of atmospheric water (and get gummy and unpleasant). And I’ve learned that recipes for dehydrating never add in actual times to run the thing. A lot depends on your personal weather and humidity. (I can see the timer feature being useful if you live in a predictably arid climate.) No, I’m not getting any kickback from the Excalibur people by posting about my appreciation of this equipment!
Prep time: Strawberries – about eight-ten minutes per tray. Grape tomatoes: about 5 minutes per tray.
“Cook” time: It depends, but don’t expect immediate gratification. At least four hours, six or eight may be the way to go.
Rest time: Huh?
Serves: Reserve in air-tight containers for multi-purpose needs.
- About 4-6 ounces of strawberries per tray (Excalibur-sized). Slice about 1/4 inch thick, or less, make sure the stem/core is gone. Slice horizontal or vertical.
Grape Tomatoes, Dehydrated
- About 4 ounces of grape tomatoes per tray (Excalibur-sized). Slice the larger ones into threes (horizontally), the smaller ones into twos (horizontally).
Layer out the fruits so they don’t touch one another. For the tomatoes, put skin side down (if this is a section with skin). For the strawberries, it doesn’t matter what side goes down.
Place the trays into the dehydrator and set the temp to 135 F/57 C.
Let her rip for at least four hours, it may well be overnight.
Those Ball canning jars are great for this. Recycle those used canning lids that you shouldn’t ever put through the water or pressure canning procedure again.
Frankly, I mostly use dehydrated strawberries or grape tomatoes in salads.
Adding a few broken up slices of dehydrated strawberries to vanilla or quality strawberry ice cream is also a tasty option. I’ll note that most commercial strawberry ice cream tastes extremely faux, but if you have a good local brand, go for it. You can also put slices of dehydrated strawberry in plain yogurt (choose a good brand with few if any extenders, whether local dairy, goat, or coconut yogurt). Let the berries soak in the moist yogurt overnight before consuming.
As for the tomatoes: anything you’d use sun-dried tomatoes for — it’s fair game. (I seriously doubt most commercial “sun-dried” tomatoes are really dried outside in the sun.) However, since I lack enough usable electrical outlets indoors, I’m relegated to using the Excalibur either in the garage — which I do in the winter, or in the bathrooms — ick, and I already charge my phone there, or outdoors on the back porch. So I can safely say these fruits were dried outside!
By the way, raw foodists consider 135 F/57 C conditions to be raw, so they can eat dried fruits. Frankly, if I happened to be walking around in an environment set at that temperature, I’d seriously feel pretty cooked. I get terribly miserable at 90 F.
Oh, and here’s the dehydrator I use: