By Jodee Weiland
If there are times in your life when you find you have too many fruits and vegetables, either from store purchases or gardens, I have an alternative for you to tossing them because you didn’t find enough recipes to use them in before they went bad.
One, you can freeze some of them. Two, you can invest in a dehydrator and dehydrate them. Either way, you avoid wasting them.
One thing my folks taught me early on was this: don’t waste food! As a kid, I always heard about those kids less fortunate than me who didn’t have food to eat, and this was true. There were people who would have loved to sit at our table and be able to have a good meal. Meals were always great in our home, so I believe you shouldn’t waste food, if you can avoid doing so. One sure way is to invest in a food dehydrator. Another is to make use of your freezer.
For us, bananas and other fruits often start going bad the soonest, since we always have fresh fruit in the house. My way of saving fruit, some of the time, is to clean it and freeze it. I then use this frozen fruit in recipes later or smoothies. I even use some frozen fruit in sangria or just add it to various drinks or wines. It’s great because the fruit is used, not wasted, and I get to enjoy the fruit in a completely different way.
Another way to save fruit and vegetables, as well as herbs, is to dehydrate. A food dehydrator is great for this and fairly simple to use. I love dehydrated apple slices. They actually make a wonderful before or after dinner treat, especially in the fall. My son put these out one Thanksgiving and that’s when I first fell in love with them. Try them and find out for yourself!
Dehydrated Apple Slices
6 to 7 apples sliced 1/8 to 3/8 inches
Orange juice as needed to pre-treat (for longer shelf life)
Cinnamon to taste
Core the apples, and then slice them with the skin to desired thickness with a food processor or a slicer. Place in a bowl with a fruit juice to pre-treat. I used orange juice. Remove from the juice and place on the trays of the dehydrator. Sprinkle to taste with cinnamon. Then set the dehydrator to 135 degrees F (57 degrees C) on the machine, cover and start. If your slices are 1/8 inch, it will take about 2 and 1/2 hours. If they are 1/4 inch thick, it will be about 4 hours or more. Each machine’s directions will tell you that the slices are ready when pliable but does not have moisture beads left when torn apart. If done without skin, times may vary.
The directions will vary with different fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but they really are not complicated. Just follow the manufacturer’s directions and find new uses for the fruits, vegetables, and herbs as a result.
I really feel it is important for all of us to do our part in making the best use of all our food resources and to try not to waste if we can. By doing so, we will benefit from the results and get more bang for our money spent on food. Even if we are growing our own food in gardens, it’s nice to know we are making good use of everything our gardens produce. Be sure to take a look at what you can do to use, not waste, good food, and as a result, enjoy!