Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Making Dried Fruit

Whether you have children in mind that need to eat healthier, or you are looking for a way to put more fruit into your own diet, making your own dried fruit can be a great way to get you out of a dietary rut and to make sure that you are getting the vitamins and natural sugars that are so healthy for you. The price of dried fruit can be a little high, however, and it will only be a matter of time before you realize that it is probably just as easy and cheap to dry the fruit yourself. Take a look below for a few things to keep in mind before you start buying your apples and bananas, however!

If you can get a food dehydrator, this is the most simple, straightforward and reliable way to dry your fruit. This device allows you control the temperature, the speed of drying and practically everything involved with the process of drying out whatever fruit you choose to put into it. It can also dry fruit without taking up valuable stove time, which is a plus for the busy individual. In a food dehydrator, fruits like apples and pears will dry at a stable 135 degrees Fahrenheit and come out looking great.

If you’d prefer to try it the old fashioned way, it is actually quite simple. First, decide on what fruits you are interested in drying. Apples and bananas are quite popular, and they are quite easy if you are looking for a simple first-time experience. The first thing you need to do to the fruit is cut it. While theoretically fruit of any shape or configuration can be dried, the drying process happens a great deal more swiftly and evenly if you cut the fruit into thin slices first.

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Then, you will want to prepare the fruit. Many fruits will go brown or even blacken when they have been exposed too long to air, and to prevent this, you can briefly soak them in a variety of solutions that will help preserve their color. Fruit juice with a high level of citric acid, asorbic acid, or even a honey and water can help your fruit looking great. This should also be done to any fruits that you put in a food dehydrator.

There are several ways to dry your fruit after you have prepared it. For instance, you can use a plastic needle to thread your fruit onto clean cotton thread and set up a rack in the sun. This method can take a few days, depending on juicy the fruit is. Remember to put down a cloth to catch any drips. You can also use a conventional oven. To use this method, put down some wax paper over a cookie sheet and lay the fruit slices on it, without letting them touch each other. Set the oven to about 175 degrees and let it simply cook for a while. This will take several hours but don’t turn the oven up to speed the process!

Essentially, your fruit will be done whenever you feel it’s good to eat, so do some experimenting and give it a shot! This is a great and fun way to eat your fruits.

Nesco American Harvest FD-1010  Gardenmaster Food DehydratorNesco American Harvest FD-1010 Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator

An Exploration of Lesser-Known Berries

While the strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry are rather popular berries, there are plenty of other species found all over the world and right in your own backyard that you are unaware of. When looking for new and exotic recipes for food and drink to explore, why not consider the fruits that possess varying health benefits, such as fighting infection or aiding the kidneys? Hidden fields and rocky mountain regions are just some of the places you will find the following berries:

Cloudberry

Sometimes referred to as the “bakeapple,” this berry is native to Newfoundland, Labrador, and Cape Breton Island, which grow 10 to 25 centimeters into the air. After the plant becomes pollinated, the white flowers produce fruit the size of raspberries. When ripe, the berries are golden yellow in color, soft, juicy, and bursting forth with vitamin C. When allowed to become overripe, they turn creamy and generate a flavor much like yogurt. Cloudberries are typically used to make juices, jams, tarts, and liqueurs. During ancient Scandinavian times, the leaves of the cloudberry plant were used to create a tea believed to cure urinary tract infections.

Huckleberry

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In North America, you will find the huckleberry, which is actually the state fruit of Idaho. The berries of this plant are small and round ? measuring less than 5 millimeters in diameter. Depending on the species, huckleberries are dark purple, bright red, or various shades of blue. The taste of the berry also varies, including tart and sweet flavors. The bluish to purple shades of the fruit resemble the taste of the blueberry.

Thimbleberry

In the western and northern parts of North America (Alaska, Ontario, Minnesota, Mexico, etc.), you will find the thimbleberry, which was named after the Thimble Islands in Connecticut, even though the fruit is near extinct in the region. When compared to raspberries, the thimbleberry is larger and softer with a flatter appearance. Small seeds are found inside. Thimbleberries that grow in the wild have gained quite the reputation for making delicious jam.

Crowberry

Who would have thought that dwarf evergreen shrubs would produce an edible fruit found in the Andes of South America to temperate climates in the northern hemisphere? This berry is rather dry with a similar taste to blueberries. When eaten raw, the berries are considered mealy and without much taste. However, Native Americans mixed the crowberry with other berries (like the blueberry) in order to enhance their flavor when cooking. This particular species of fruit is known to make a decent pie and tasty jelly.