Monday, January 13, 2014

A year of fruit drying

For Christmas 2012, Ben bought the family a fruit drier. We've been eating its produce for a year and I can confidently say that it's been a good buy for pleasure and thrift - the winner was this Christmas bowl of dried fruit, bought fresh at the supermarket and then dried, all for a fraction of the cost of the pre-prepared basket:
Clockwise starting from the bottom, we have dried apple (soak the pieces in water with a little lemon juice as you chop them), coconut (a new one - fantastic!), mango (an old favourite), grapes (new to us as our own grape harvest this year was crummy, and much moister and more tasty than bought raisins) and, in the middle, pear.
Here's the machine itself - obviously you have to factor in the cost of the electricity, and we try to cut the pieces fairly small as chunks take a long, long time to dry out, but I guess we've saved a bit of money and have certainly had fun and produced healthy (ish) products from seasonal produce. Here's a list of everything I can remember Ben drying over the year:
From our own, or friends' gardens:
chillis (he ran the drier out on the patio for this, for which we were all grateful!)
bay leaves
From the shops when they were cheap:
pear (which went mouldy a bit quickly, so we need to try again)
For decorations:
orange, lemon and lime slices
Some of these have become absolute staples, particularly the dried mango, which is so much cheaper when you buy fresh fruit in season than in pre-prepared dried packs. The chillis were also really successful, as drying them in bunches hanging around the place may be decorative but really gathers dust. Have any of you tried drying fruit and veg? Do you have any more suggestions for us?