I love dehydrated fruit! It’s so sweet and chewy, and it’s wonderfully portable…great for sack lunches or snacks when you’re hiking. It’s also a great thing to have around for recipes! Snip some dried fruit into your muffin mix or shake some up with raw nuts and seeds for trail mix. It’s a wonderful food to have in your pantry, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
I used to buy dried fruit at the store, thinking that I was stocking up on a healthy treat. I quickly learned to proceed with caution, however…not only is most supermarket dried fruit not organic, it’s also full of sugar and chemicals! What ought to be a healthy snack can actually be a sneaky source of dextrose, glucose and/or corn syrup, sulphur dioxide, and paraffin. In general, the prettier the dried fruit…the more chemicals it contains! To keep it nice, colorful and shiny, things-that-are-not-fruit must be added. I’ve learned that when buying dehydrated fruit from the store, it’s best to look for the ugly fruit. Because really, we all know what happens to fruit as it dries! It turns brown, gets wrinkly, and looks funny. This is one case where ugly is beautiful! And what’s the best way to insure that your beautifully ugly, sweet and chewy dried fruit is free of anything scary? Do it yourself, of course!
Dehydrated pear slices are easy to make in your food dehydrator, but if you don’t have a dehydrator that’s OK. You can make it in your oven, too! You’ll want to start with fresh organic pears, ripe but not mushy. Wash them and slice them…you can core them first, but I like the way they look sliced right through, stem and all. It’s kind of fun to nibble around the seeds and stem, and as a bonus it makes the prep work very easy! You can dip your fruit in lemon juice if you’d like, but I skip that step. I love the idea of dried pears being just pears, and nothing else! Slice the pears between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick. The thinner the slice, the more dry they will be, thicker slices will be more flexible.
After you’ve sliced your pears, arrange them on the trays of your food dehydrator. If you’re using the oven, place them on parchment lined cookie sheets or on cooling racks stacked on cookie sheets. Follow the instructions on your food dehydrator for the temperature and time settings, or set your oven to 160 degrees and pop the pears inside. If your oven doesn’t go that low, you can use the “warm” setting instead. In the oven, your pears will take about 3-6 hours…check after 3 hours, and then every half-hour or so after that. When they are the texture you’d like, take them out and let them cool before putting them in an airtight container.
If you dehydrate a lot of fruit and won’t be using it in the next few months, it’s a good idea to seal it in something airtight and keep it in the freezer. It will keep better, and you won’t have to worry about it going stale if you don’t eat it right away.
- Organic pears (you choose the type, I've never heard of a pear that doesn't dehydrate well. Choose ripe but not overripe fruit)
- Lemon juice (optional, you only need this if you want your pears not to turn a tan-brown color. Use about a cup of juice per gallon of water.
- Wash your pears, and cut out any bruised or bad spots.
- Slice your pears. You can use an apple corer to cut out the core and then slice the pears in rings, or you can slice them lengthwise into slices without cutting out the core. The slices should be ¼ to ½ inch thick, thinner slices will dry to a more crunchy texture and thicker slices will be chewier.
- If you don't want your pears to brown while drying, soak them for 10 minutes in lemon water.
- Arrange the pear slices on the trays of your food dehydrator. If you are dehydrating them in your oven, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange the pears on the paper, or place the slices on drying racks and stack them on the cookie sheet.
- Set the oven for 160 degrees (or, if your oven doesn't allow you to set it for that temperature, use the "warm" setting). Place the pears in the oven and dry for 3 hours, then check them. If you like the texture, take them out...otherwise, leave them in the oven and check every half-hour until the pear slices reach the desired texture. I can take from 3 to 6 hours (roughly) to dehydrate pears, depending on the moisture content of your fruit, the humidity, and your particular oven. If you're using a dehydrator, follow the directions that came with the machine...if they don't mention how long to dry pears, follow the directions for dried apples.
- When your pears are dry, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Put them in airtight containers and store...if you've dehydrated more pears than you'll eat in a month or so, put some of them in the freezer. They'll stay fresh longer and you won't have to worry about them going stale.
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