Preserving food through drying

Making fruit leather, using the process of drying, is a healthy affordable treat.

When the bounty of our gardens in plentiful we think about trying various ways to preserve the food we will use throughout the year. One method of food preservation is drying. It is the oldest method of food preservation and it is still used today. There are many aspects to drying food and many things to consider such as; type of food, method of drying, and method of storage and pretreatment methods. Since the topic is so vast, this specific article will look at making fruit leather.

Fruit leather is a tasty treat that can be added to children’s lunch boxes for a healthy and affordable serving of fruit during the day. Fruit Leather is generally referenced as “fruit roll-ups,” as they have the name of leather because it is pliable and feels like leather.

As in all, through food preservation there is a satisfaction reached when you create and preserve your own food. Michigan State University Extension encourages this method as you are in control of the amount of sugar added and it makes an affordable treat. By using pulp from fruit left over from other fruit processes or using fresh fruit from the foods you have gathered, you make this a very affordable food item to add to your cupboard.

This is not a recipe, but basic steps that need to be taken to make fruit leather:

  • Always wash fruit, and then begin using slightly over ripe fruit.
  • Remove seeds, pits and stems.
  • Cut the fruit into small chunks then puree.

To preserve color add ascorbic acid or lemon juice. Adding sugar is optional. If using the oven to dry in, prepare a baking pan by lining it with plastic wrap, a dehydrator comes with plastic sheets ready for use when dehydrating leathers. Pour a single layer of fruit in the pan or on the plastic sheets. Do not over fill the pan, the thicker it is the longer it takes to dry.

Set the temperature at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and plan on six to eight hours of drying time. The fruit will dry from the outside edge, toward the center. Touch the center of the fruit leather to check for dryness, there should not be any sign of indentation when it is finished. Peel the leather off the tray or pan, cut into shapes or smaller pieces and store for one month if left at room temperature or one year if sealed tightly and placed in the freezer.

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