Keeping the Doctor Away

February 22nd, 2011

Food Hoard Grows

My Excalibur food dehydrator showed up this weekend. Yesterday I fired it up, dehydrating a bunch of Granny Smith apples. I bought four dozen at Costco, and I did two dozen a week or so ago, and the aggravation was what led me to order the dehydrator.

It took seven hours to dehydrate apple slices prepared with a slicing and peeling machine. I’m sure hand-sliced apples would be different, because the thickness would vary. The machines make slices about 1/4″ thick.

The dehydrator expels wet air from the front, and water will condense on anything close to the machine. I guess there is no way to avoid that.

I didn’t dip the apples in lemon juice or sodium bisulfite or anything else that might inhibit oxidation. I wanted them to taste like the apples my grandmother used to dry. Apples that are heavily treated don’t have the same flavor. I figured my apples would come out brown, like the ones I dried in the SUV and oven, but they came out very white.

Here’s the surprising thing: the flavor is amazing. It’s almost like a green apple Jolly Rancher candy. Very strong, and extremely sweet. I can’t figure that out. I don’t know if they’ll make good dried-apple pies, but they’re great to eat as a snack.

The dehydrator has plastic shelves that slide out, and each shelf has a sheet of plastic mesh on it to hold food. You can put the trays in the dishwasher (top rack), but the mesh has to be washed by hand. This is a major pain. But if Perry Stone is right, and food gets expensive, the effort of keeping my dehydrator clean will seem trivial.

I look forward to drying some bananas in it. My trees are producing well.

This dehydrator is a refurb, but I can’t see anything wrong with it. I think I made a good choice. You can get a cheaper Chinese knockoff, but I wanted a warranty and decent customer service.

3 Responses to “Keeping the Doctor Away”

  1. Ruth H Says:

    Dried apples make wonderful pies. Probably more so when you figure they are the granny smith’s you dried. I am old enough to remember that during WWII when fresh fruit was not available, my mother made wonderful pies from dried apples. I believe she put them in a certain amount of water brought to a boil and then left to rehydrate for a while. I do not have any idea of the amount of water ratio to apple or how long it took. I was just a very young girl at the time. But we thought they were great.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    Fried pies are a traditional Kentucky dessert, generally made at Christmastime. The filling is pretty simple. Basically, you rehydrate the apples and turn them into apple butter. Then you spoon it onto circles of biscuit dough or pie crust, fold them over and seal them, and fry them in lard. My grandmother used to make a pile of them every year and leave them in her dining room. They keep a long time.
    She used “june apples,” which were really Russian Yellow Transparents. Like a Granny Smith, only ten times better.

  3. Virgil Says:

    Think about the physics of dehydration Steve.
    In drying/dehydration, just like the sun dries out coastal salt flats so people could harvest crystalline salt, the water evaporates into the air at a given ambient temperature, pressure (in this case atmospheric) and based on relative humidity thereby leaving behind all of the flavor (A.K.A. impurities.)
    The extra humidity recondenses out of the vented air onto surfaces which are below the air/water vapor mixture dewpoint.
    In the dehydration process, as long as you don’t heat up the oils and other substances like the naturally occuring Citric Acid which gives the apple flavor to a point at or above their boiling temperature only mostly water comes out in the process.