Even though the dried cranberries were a complete flop, I haven’t given up on the joys of drying fruit. I’ve dried the apples in the past, and it really worked, promise. Given that it’s mid-winter, I assumed I wouldn’t have another go at it until next fall, but there, in Safeway, were apples on sale — 2 5lb bags for $5.00. Of course, I could have just bought 1 bag for $2.50, but this somehow felt like a steal. I’ll use some of the apples for an apple-nut sweetbread, which I’ll likely bake tomorrow, so I had plenty to play with.
The last apples I had used were fresh from my grandma’s tree. If it’s not clear already, all of her granddaughters think she’s pretty much amazing — gardening, growing just about anything, and preserving that good ol’ down to earth goodness and class that comes with growing up on a farm. Her jam is second to none, and her applesauce… I digress.
The apples she grows are granny smith which have a nice tart flavor that lends them well to baking. The Safeway Special were fuji, which I love fresh — a nice tart crispness without the chewing skin of the granny smith but also a little kick of sweet. I just did the basics this time around. It’s possible to sprinkle the peeled, cored, and sliced apples with a mix of sugar and cinnamon before drying, but I was lazy.
Actually I was more intrigued with the dried bananas. I’ve never adored dried bananas as I have the dried apples, but why not give it a try? I have visions of using them in a banana-maple-walnut granola in the future (maybe I’ll play with that recipe next week). Also, bananas are a lot easier to peel! The handy-dandy instruction book that came with the food dehydrator (circa 1980s, feathered bangs on the food models to prove it!) instructed me to pretreat them. Given the debacle that resulted from the sad, sad dried cranberries, I decided I wasn’t going to risk it this time. I mixed up some lemon juice “pretreatment.” I added about 1/4 cup of lemon juice to about 4 or 5 cups of water. I let the sliced bananas soak in that for about 2 or 3 minutes before layering in a tray. The fruit drying setting is 135 (I’m not sure what this applies to but that’s what it says in my book…), so I plugged it in and am anxiously waiting.