From SMK Contributing Writer Danielle. See other posts by Danielle here.
In my continued effort to savor the very sweetness of summer seasonal fruits, I decided to try drying my own fruit. I choose strawberries and blueberries as I feel they are the two fruits that most perfectly describe summer.
Why, you ask, have I chosen to dry fruit? Here are a few good reasons!
REPLACING THE OLD WITH THE NEW
As always, I have a secret agenda. My daughter is obsessed with the fruit snack gummies. You know, the ones that are cleverly packaged with Dora or Hello Kitty’s face plastered on the box? They are really perfect as convenience goes. They toss nicely into a purse, lunch box or backseat of a car. But again, they are filled with preservatives. So, in my never ending quest to attempt to steer my family towards cleaner eating, I thought these dried fruit treats would be the perfect substitute. Annnnnd, they might just entice my daughter to try something new!
LOW MAINTENANCE SNACKING
My family and I are lucky enough that we take several road trips a year, especially during the summer. As I am preparing for our next adventure, I always like to pack a bag in the back seat full of distractions such as books, toys and snacks, all in an effort to keep my daughter occupied. However, no matter how creative I get with the snacks, the treats at the gas station rest stop always seem to be more tempting. Gross! This year, I am coming with my “A” game. I made up a few baggies of the graham cracker fish crackers and tossed in some of the dried fruit. The best part about dried fruit snacks is they are very low maintenance, meaning they do not need to be kept in the cooler. Perfect for road trips!
CONTINUING TO ENJOY THE BEST OF SUMMER
As I mentioned in my prior post about taking advantage of seasonal fruits by canning them, the same holds true for drying fruit. If stored properly, dried fruit can last up to a year. I am from the Buffalo area. And as we all know, Buffalo is synonymous with snow and long winter months. By no means will summer fruits take away the winter blues, but imagine the pure joy of indulging in strawberries and blueberries in the middle of January. My jars of dried fruit right next to my jars of Strawberry Rhubarb Butter will give me sweet satisfaction knowing that I took full advantage of preserving summer fruits. Success!
I must mention, in order to dry fruits, a dehydrator was not necessary. I followed these steps and was just as successful. The process took less than seven hours and that includes the minimal preparation of cutting the fruit. However, for my next batch, I would not slice the strawberries as thin. Once the process was complete, and the strawberries were dried enough, the pieces were not as meaty as I would have preferred. Nonetheless, the results were still enjoyable. Next time, I am thinking apples would be the perfect choice!
Have you ever dried fruit before? What has been your experience?