Raisins, banana chips, and dried pineapples, blueberries, apricots…the list goes on. It’s fruit, so it must be good for you – right? Have you taken the time to read the label on any of these “healthy” snacks? Often there are added sugars and preservatives to prolong shelf life of these healthy-sounding treats. Making your own is very easy and much healthier.
Materials you need:
- Dehydrator (I use this one)
- Fruit and/or vegetables
- Knife and cutting board
- Optional: water and lemon juice in a large bowl
Most dehydrators come with a “cookbook” but often the same rules apply: wash and cut the fruit/vegetable into ¼-inch thick slices, place the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator racks so they are not touching, and turn it on at the designated heat setting for 9-12 hours (overnight works great).
For fruits that brown with air exposure (apples, pears), put the freshly cut pieces into a bowl with about ½ cup lemon juice and filled to half way with water for 10 minutes. For small, round fruits with tough skin (blueberries, cranberries), blanch them first: boil a pot of water and toss in the fruit for 1-2 minutes or until the skin cracks then quickly cool them in ice water before dehydrating (this saves a ton of “dehydrating” time if the skin is broken and the water can escape).
Beware: you can have too much of a good thing! The portion sizes are smaller for dried fruits and vegetables because you’ve taken away mass (the water), consider one fresh apple versus one dried apple. Also, each piece has more condensed (albeit natural) sugar after the water is removed. So, instead of eating these sweet treats plain by the bucketful try:
- Making your own trail mix
- Using them for baking (blueberry muffins, anyone?)
- Adding them to oatmeal or salads
We’ve all heard it before – homemade is better than anything pre-packaged, so why wouldn’t we dehydrate our own fruits and vegetables? It takes a little bit of prep work, but the results are so delicious it is absolutely worth it!