Honey, I Shrunk the Apples!

Dried apples and pears

Watch out, folks, she’s got a dehydrator and is not afraid to use it!

A few weeks ago I was in an unusual (for me) situation: a little extra cash, 2 Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards burning a hole in my wallet, and a 20% off coupon to BB&B, all when I had to run an errand in that general direction. What’s a girl to do?

So I bought a dehydrator. The Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and Jerky Maker(affiliate link) to be exact.

Now, this wouldn’t be most folks first inclination, I understand, but I’d actually started wanting one a month or so prior when I started researching an upcoming project. But I didn’t rush off and buy one right then, I at least sat on the idea for a little while, but then the stars aligned and I went for it.

Finally, this weekend, I had a chance to try out my new toy and did, indeed, shrink 2 apples and 1 pear from their usually bulky selves into svelte, streamlined versions, suitable for long-term storage.

First, since apples and pears are both prone to ugly discoloration, they got a 5 minute bath in some lemon-water.

Apple and pear slices soaking in acidulated water to prevent browning

Then it was off to the trays. The pear took up one (the bottom one, since they were supposed to take the longest), and then the apples filled in the 3 upper trays (I’ve yet to buy extra trays, yet, but I think I may, soon, since they really do fill-up quickly). Since you don’t want anything overlapping (slows drying time), the biggest slices went around the perimeter, first, then the others were halved and fit in where the could.

A tray of my dehydrator filled with pear slices

The other 3 trays were filled with apple slices, whole and half-rings

After an hour, the apples had noticeably shrunk in size and were on their way to their waterless destination.

State of the apple slices, 1 hour in the dehydrator

After 2 hours I was shocked to see they seemed to be done!

Calling it! Finished, dehydrated apples after 2 hours

According to the chart in the book it was supposed to take 4 hours, minimum, for the apples, and 6 for the pears. I gave it another 30 minutes, just to be sure, then took out all but a few apples and the pears, which I moved up to the top tray.

The straggler apples and pears going in for one last round

Another 30 minutes and everything was suitably dried.

What might have accounted for their rapid water-loss was the thickness of the slices. I used my mandoline on the smallest setting. Next time I suppose I could go up on the thickness, but maybe not–twice the apples dried in half the time? That might be worth keeping up.

They weren’t like what you buy in the store, though, in the dried fruit section. Ours are leathery and flexible but not moist at all–which is the whole point for storage. As my eventual plans have them being mixed in to other things, being this thin might actually work to their advantage.

I’d hoped to also try out a watermelon in the dehydrator on Sunday but the one I’d bought to experiment with had gone bad while sitting on the counter. Supposedly melons develop a candy-like texture when dehydrated, which still intrigues me. I also wanted to try out the fruit leather tray that came with the dehydrator, but I suppose it’ll wait for another weekend.

That’s the one down-side to dehydrating, though: it takes time. Lots of time. But the machine makes no more noise than your standard fan, and the scent of whatever your drying fills the house after the first hour or so; not a bad trade-off. Once I’ve given it a few more supervised runs (and verifying times, too!), I think I’d be comfortable leaving it running overnight, for the longer processes, while we’re asleep. No different, in that respect, than a slow-cooker, really.

In addition to my melon plans, sweet potatoes and, of course, jerky are all on my dehydrated to-do list.

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FTC Disclaimer: This product review was unsolicited by the manufacturer and based solely on the author’s experience with the product. No compensation of any sort was received for this review.

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