Monday, April 15, 2013

family noms: dried apples

i don't usually get particularly paranoid about food additives. we try to cook good food at home, and if we have the odd snack or meal out that's not the healthiest, we don't worry too much about it.

but i find that sulphite preservatives (220-228) upset my stomach, and make me really uncomfortable. i don't want to inflict this on arty, but i want him to be able to eat dried fruit as a snack (and in dishes like porridge etc).
so i decided to have a go at making my own. it was really easy!


dried apples

ingredients:

4 apples
1 cup lemon juice
3 cups water


method:

  • peel and core fruit, and slice into pieces approx 5mm thick
  • combine lemon juice and water in a bowl
  • in batches, soak the fruit slices in the juice for no more than 4 minutes
  • using paper towel, or a clean tea towel, gently blot excess moisture from fruit
  • arrange slices carefully on trays of dehydrator, ensuring that no pieces are touching each other
  • dehydrate for around 7-10 hours (this will vary depending on your machine). they are ready when they are still flexible, but no moisture comes out when you pinch them hard between your fingers.
  • store in airtight containers in a cool dark place, such as a pantry or kitchen cupboard.

i expected these to be nice, but a bit funny looking. i was so pleasantly surprised by how they turned out. they didn't discolour at all, so they look appetizing, and the flavour is SO GOOD. i had no idea how much the commercial drying processes alters the taste - there's just no comparison with the home made kind. these just taste like distilled apple essence. scrummy!


i already owned a food dehydrator, because i use it to dry my own herbs, so that was handy. they cost around $100, so i wouldn't have gone out and bought one just for experimenting with. if you want to give this a go, maybe see if anyone you know has a dehydrator languishing in their attic or pantry that you can borrow. and check out gumtree, ebay, or a similar site for a second hand one if you decide you want to have a few goes!

n.b. it's a bit hard to say from what age these are suitable for babies - arty's gotten all his teeth early, so would have handled nomming on these from about 8 months, but babies that aren't as adept at chewing would need to wait til after a year. 
use your judgement, and if in doubt, wait til they're a bit bigger.

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