Dry It! You’ll Like It!

Peaches in Dehydrator TraysThis evening I went over to my friend Bobbi’s house to help her dehydrate some peaches.  I am still a novice food preserver but I am really excited to learn more about drying food and Bobbi has been doing it for awhile.  Her persimmon leather is particularly tasty but she works seasonally and the fruit-of-the-month is peaches.  She buys seconds (the ugly, small, or slightly blemished fruit) from Olde Lane Orchard and dries, freezes, cans, or jams them although her preference is drying.

Washing PeachesWe started by washing the peaches in a sink full of water.  (Kind of makes you want to bob for peaches, doesn’t it?)  Eliza, Bobbi’s daughter, had requested that we do a batch without skins so our next step was to drop each peach into boiling water for a few minutes to loosen the skin.  This is the same technique used to get the skins of tomatoes for people who like their tomato sauce smooth.  Bobbi and I are both of the opinion that it’s easiest and most nutritious to leave the skins on most everything but we were curious to see how it went.

Peeling PeachesThe peeling part wasn’t too bad once we let the peaches cool a little.  The clingstone peaches seemed to peel a lot more easily than the freestone peaches, which may explain why they’re still a popular variety even though they’re a pain to cut up.  However, skinned peaches are incredibly slippery and I think it was sheer luck that none of them landed on the floor.  They also seemed juicier than normal when cut, perhaps because they were partially cooked by the boiling water.

Cutting peachesWe sliced them into roughly even chunks and put them on the dehydrator trays to dry.  In an ideal world, all the pieces should be exactly the same size so they dry at the same rate but in reality some of them get a little drier and some not quite as much and life goes on.  Drying at low temperatures preserves a lot more vitamins and nutrients than canning or freezing and if the moisture content is low enough, it can be stored for many months.

Dried PeachesBobbi’s dehydrator is much nicer than mine with adjustable heat and a timer so you can turn it on and set it to magically turn itself off in X number of hours, which is helpful since drying times for fruit tend to be pretty long – say 20 hours.  I left just a couple hours after we got the dehydrator loaded so I won’t be able to report back on the results for a few days but I’m sure they will be tasty and probably look like this batch that Bobbi did last week.  I’m looking forward to trying out a few recipes from “Dry It!  You’ll Like It!” with my baby dehydrator and hopefully finding a serious dehydrator of my own some day.

Special thanks to Eliza for taking pictures while we worked and for nourishing us with nori rolls!

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mishlor said,

    August 22, 2008 @ 11:45 pm

    I am very jealous. I love dried fruit and things.

    Maybe I should try doing it myself.

  2. 2

    Andy said,

    August 23, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

    Just bought 8 quarts of peaches today and plan on drying a bunch also, maybe can some too. Any idea if you can freeze them? I froze 27 pounds of tomatoes last year, and I plan on doing that again.

  3. 3

    Maggie said,

    August 24, 2008 @ 9:49 am

    You can totally freeze peaches. I would check out “Keeping the Harvest” as a great resource book for canning, freezing, and drying. I think they recommend using a sugar pack for peaches but I just chopped mine up and froze them. We’ll see how they do!

    Drying isn’t too hard but if you start out with a little K-Mart food dryer like I did you have to be prepared to watch it and rotate things around because the little dryers just don’t dry very evenly, in my experience. I plan to try air drying some apples this fall and see how they do. I know folks who dry over woodstoves but that really doesn’t sound appealing in August. 🙂

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