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What Can You Dry in a Fruit Dryer?

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Drying is one of the oldest and healthiest methods of preserving food. It's the perfect way to preserve the taste, smell and colour of food for an extraordinarily long time. Drying food was first mentioned 3500 years ago, when food was dried using the sun and hot winds. Many years have have passed since then and methods of drying have become more efficient and more convenient. However, the basic principle remains the same. In this article, we will advise you on how to go about drying food and how to choose the perfect dryer for fruits, vegetables and other goods.

Apples, dehydrating fruit

  1. What is the Principle behind Drying Fruit and Other Foods?
  2. Why are Dried Foods so Healthy?
  3. How Can You Choose the Right Fruit Dryer?
  4. What Foods Can Be Dried?
  5. How Do You Prepare Dried Tomatoes in a Fruit Drier?
  6. Drying Meat in a Dryer
  7. Storage of Dried Foods
  8. How a Food Dryer Can Help You With the Preparation of Yoghurt and Dough

What is the Principle Behind Drying Fruit and Other Foods?

The basic principle behind drying foods is to reduce the water content by up to 95%. In this state, mould, fungi and bacteria are unable to grow and multiply. It is therefore possible to store dried food for an exceptionally long period of time, without it decomposing or otherwise degrading in quality.

Why are Dried Foods so Healthy?

Drying food is one of the best ways to store vitamins. It is therefore advisable to produce a supply of dried fruits and vegetables for the winter, when fresh fruits (meaning vitamins) are not so easy to find. But in the modern day, supermarket shelves are full to bursting with exotic fruit all year round. However, you should bear in mind that these exotic fruits must be picked in their country of origin when they are still unripe to ensure that they don't start to go off while in transit. This fruit ends up ripening on the road and by the time it reaches the supermarket shelves, it will no longer offer the same nutritional benefits as an apple fresh from your garden.

i Buying dried fruit from the supermarket is not as healthy as it may initially seem. It is mostly full of sugar and sulphur dioxide to prolong its shelf life. Consuming this dried fruit can make you unwell, cause bloating and lead to severe digestive discomfort. By drying fruit at home with your own dryer, you can avoid these complications.

Dried fruits contain a wealth of vitamins, in addition to a number of other health benefits. For example, they contain a large amount of fibre to help keep your digestive system in perfect shape. Dried fruits are also a source of antioxidants, which help to fight heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and degenerative brain disease. Dried apricots, raisins, plums and figs contain a large amount of beta-carotene, vitamin E, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium, and contain no fat. All dried fruit is a source of energy and it is lighter to carry than undried fruit, so it is ideal for hiking, day trips and sports. 

Dried fruit

How Can You Choose the Right Fruit Dryer?

Nowadays, not many people would have the time or the patience to dry food using simply sun and wind. Natural forces have been replaced by electric fruit-dryers. These devices are popular with gardeners who wish to to process surplus crops, those who enjoy following a healthy lifestyle and also those who simply love to eat high-quality food. Are you thinking about purchasing a dryer? Take a moment to answer the following questions:

How Often Will You Use the Dryer?

There are plenty of dryers on the market, but not all of them are suitable for everyday use. If you only plan to dry a few apples each autumn, then all you will need is a cheaper, round dryer, which is made from inexpensive plastic.

If you want a dryer that will allow you to dry fruits, vegetables, meat, mushrooms and other foods every day, then you should choose a dryer with a timer, which is made from high-quality materials (such as stainless steel). Such a device will last for a very long time, even when used regularly to dry large quantities of produce.

A Round or Square Fruit Dryer?

This choice is not only about aesthetics, as round and square dryers will dry your fruit differently. The main difference is in the location of the heating unit, which distributes warm air during the drying process.

  • Round fruit dryers have the heating unit at the bottom of the dryer, meaning that the warm air rises from the bottom up. This means that the food won't dry evenly, so it will be necessary to switch the trays occasionally during the drying process.
  • Square fruit dryers mostly have the heating unit on the side. This means that the heat is distributed evenly and you won't have to waste time switiching the trays. Unlike with a circular dryer, you can remove a tray at any point during the drying process, without having to remove all of the trays above it. It is also possible to turn the dryer on with only one tray inside, so you will be able to dry large pieces of food, or allow bread dough to breathe.

A Stainless Steel or Plastic Fruit Dryer?

If you want your dryer to last for a long time, go for a stainless steel model. With plastic dryers, things are less straight forward. It is possible to buy high-quality plastic fruit dryers, that are made from ultra-durable plastic with a stainless steel finish. On the other hand, with some plastic dryers you would be lucky to make it through one harvest. The price and weight of your chosen dryer will tell you a lot about its quality. Lower quality dryers are likely to crack and are not made to a very high standard. These dryers usually cost just a few euros and could be lifted using just one finger. On the other hand, a high-quality plastic dryer will cost you around 200 euros and will be significantly more robust.

How Much Food Will You Dry at Once?

The more food you will want to dry at one time, the more drying trays you will need.

  • 4 to 6 trays will suit occasional users.
  • 9 to 11 trays will suit passionate gardeners, people who like to eat healthy food on daily basis and those who love picking mushrooms in large quantities.

What Foods Can You Dry?

All foods have an ideal drying temperature. Some can be dried at low temperatures (around 30°C) and others need to be dried at higher temperatures (around 70°C). If you wish to dry a range of different foods, you should ideally buy a dryer that allows you to regulate the temperature within a given range. You also need to pay close attention to timing if you wish to dry produce to perfection, so it's advisable to buy a dryer with a timer.

Dried vegetables

Dry Mushrooms, Vegetables and Herbs in One Dryer

Generally speaking, fruit is the food which is most commonly dried. However, dryers can also be used to dry mushrooms, vegetables, herbs and even meat. You should always select ripe fruits without mould or other damage and be sure to set the dryer to the correct temperature:

  • 35-40°C is the ideal temperature for drying herbs and spices.
  • 50-55°C is the ideal temperature for drying mushrooms, fruits and vegetables.
  • 68°C is the ideal temperature for drying meat.
i How will you know that the food has been properly dried? The answer is simply by appearance. As soon as its colour has significantly changed and it is rigid and inflexible, the drying process is over. You can also perform a simple knife test. Push a knife gently into the dried food. If it is ready, the pressure should not cause droplets of moisture to appear.

How Do You Prepare Food for Drying?

  • Peel and scrape the fruit before drying. For smaller fruits, dry the halves as a whole (e.g. nectarines).
  • Cut larger pieces of fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and meat into slices of approximately 1.5cm.

Pears, apples, and apricots may turn brown as they dry. To prevent browning, dip the fruit in water mixed with a spoonful of lemon juice before drying. This will help the fruit stay bright (it won't even turn brown during storage). If you don't need large quantities of dried fruit, there's no need to worry! You can use any surplus fruit to make jams or marmalades.

Use Your Dryer to Make Delicious Dried Tomatoes

Do you love dried tomatoes? If so, you can easily prepare this Mediterranean delicacy at home in a fruit dryer. Drying tomatoes in a fruit dryer is simple and you can save a lot of money by not buying expensive, imported dried tomatoes.

How Do You Dry Tomatoes in a Dryer?

  1. Rinse the tomatoes in water, then remove the stem, pulp and seeds (you can also dry tomatoes with the pulp and seeds, it just takes longer).
  2. You do not have to remove the peel from tomatoes, but you can if you wish.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into roughly equal pieces. If you are using burgundy tomatoes, chop them in half. Small tomatoes can be left whole.
  4. Place the slices of tomato on the tray, ensuring that they don't overlap. Pat them down with a paper towel and add salt.
  5. Set the fruit dryer to 52°C and dry for 5-9 hrs, depending on the thickness of the tomatoes. Properly dried tomatoes are stiff, not brittle.
  6. Once they are ready, you should allow them to cool for about an hour.
  7. Enjoy your delicious dried tomatoes.

Dried tomatoes from the dryer can be eaten as they are, or you can mix them with olive or sunflower oil. They are also delicious with herbs (oregano, basil), garlic, capers or walnuts, depending on your taste.

Dried tomatoes

Drying Meat in a Drier

You can also dry beef, poultry, fish and game in a fruit dryer. Always choose lean meat, with as little fat as possible.

i The more fat is on the meat, the less time you will be able to keep it for after drying.

Slices of meat for drying should not be less than 0.5cm in size. The direction in which the meet is sliced determines its stiffness after drying. Meat sliced against the grain will be solid after drying. If you cut it with the grain, it will be fragile and delicate. When cutting meat, remove any visible fat. Occasionally, a fat droplet will appear during the drying process. If this happens, simply wipe it away with a paper napkin.

Dried fish

You can marinate the dried meat in seasoning and salt, which will prolong its life. Meat should be dried in the dryer for about 4-6 hrs, depending on the thickness of the slices. It will take a little longer to dry fish. The ideal drying time for fish is around 12-14 hrs. If properly dried, the flesh will crack but not break. Remember, you should check the flesh only once it has cooled down.

The Storage of Dried Foods

Allow the dried food to cool for about an hour. It is advisable not to allow any extra time between cooling and storage. This is because if left out, the food could soak in moisture from the air and start to deteriorate once it is stored. You should store the dried food in an airtight container and if you want to save some space, you could even store the food in a vacuum sealed bag. Bags or containers containing dried foods should be stored in a dark place at room temperature or lower. In this condition, the dried food should last for 1-2 years.

Store in a dry, dark place for up to 2 years

A Food Dryer Will Help You with the Preparation of Yoghurt and Dough

Do you enjoy making yoghurt? If so, you'll be pleased to hear that it's not necessary to buy a yoghurt maker. You just need a fruit drier with a temperature control. Add your prepared mixture of milk and yoghurt culture to glasses and place them in the dryer. Then set the dryer to 46°C and leave it for 3 hrs. It is really important that the drier is set to the correct temperature, as above 46°C, the yoghurt culture will be destroyed. You can can even use the dryer to make bread (for this the dryer should also be set to 46°C). Dough can be placed in the device to breathe and rise. This process should take only 30 mins - 1 hr. You can also dry homemade pasta in 2-4 hrs at a temperature of 57°C.

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