Dehydrating fruit is something I just started doing. I’m such an amateur, but I wanted to share how easy it is and what I’ve learned so far. The drying process is used to preserve food by removing most of the moisture in order to stop bacteria from surviving. You can either use an oven at a low temperature or an electric dehydrator. The dehydrator blows warm air no greater than 118 degrees around the food for hours until it becomes leathery and chewy.
What started me on this new adventure was a recent visit of fig picking with my friend Darlene out of her big, beautiful tree that takes up about half of her back yard. We were discussing different ways to eat them when she told me how good they are dried. That was something I had never thought of doing, but she suggested I try it. So I borrowed my son’s dehydrator and started learning this ancient way of preserving those fresh picked figs.
The first thing I did was rinse the figs with fresh water and drain. Then I put them in a pot of boiling water for a minute in order to break through the waxy covering of the skin which helps in the drying process. After taking them out of the boiling water I placed them on a kitchen towel until they were dry to the touch.
I removed their stems and cut them in half arranging the cut figs closely on the trays, but not touching each other.
After placing the trays onto the dehydrator I put the top on and plugged it in. The machine ran for 8 hours and the room had a glorious, subtle, sweet smell of figs! Wish I could bottle that and wear it. I gathered them into a ziploc bag for storage.
I ate them the next morning in my hot oatmeal and it was yummy! I also added them to my mother-in-law’s oatmeal cookie recipe. Very good! That recipe is a healthy version, low in sugar and so satisfying to the tummy we sometimes eat them for breakfast. Replacing the dates or raisins with dried figs makes them taste even less sugary to me. My sister-in-law, Cindy, likes to use fig preserves instead of the dates for a sweeter, moister taste. Something I am going to try very soon.
My mother-in-law, Clarice, is one of the best cooks I know. She’s had lots of practice by being a Pastor’s wife and having to cook for many church functions and people in need, not to mention her own family of four children and now their families, which includes me! She and Dad’s home near Laurel, Mississippi is a refuge where anyone can find unconditional love. It’s a peaceful place in the country where we are welcome anytime we need a listening ear, godly council or just a bit of “home”. We all love to go there. Their prayers and faithful service to God has been an anchor to our family and everyone who has had the privilege of knowing them. Mom is gifted in spreading her table with fresh vegetables from the garden and there’s always a homemade dessert or two in the refrigerator. They have had lots of practice in all of these areas and we are blessed to be able to benefit from them. I asked her if I could share her oatmeal cookie recipe with you all and she said “sure!” So here it is:
Oatmeal Raisin (or Dates) Cookies
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates (or raisins) (or dried figs)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
3 cups oatmeal (I use old-fashion oats)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter, sugar & honey until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and flaxseed meal and mix well. Add dry ingredients slowly into creamed mixture combining well. Stir in oats, dates and nuts. Mix well.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper lined pans.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Makes about 40 good-size cookies.
Now that I have gotten a taste for drying foods I am looking forward to discovering more ways to preserve by dehydration. You can be sure I’ll let you know the outcome.
“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.” Dwight L. Moody