I’m excited about this post because I’ve wanted to try dehydrating food forever. I’ve made the odd fruit rollup before in the oven, but I’ve never really put a lot of effort into it until I bought my Nesco Dehydrator a few months back. I remember my mom having one as a kid and have wanted one for myself, ever since then.
I will write a completely separate post to review my dehydrator (there are so many out there it’s hard to choose), so I’ll let you know why I chose the one I did. But for now, I’m sticking to my snacks.
So my first attempt at making dehydrated snacks was made using mangoes. I made three types + a fruit roll up + a popsicle. I had A LOT of mangoes. I went to the dreaded Costco and bought a case of mangoes for $10.99 – now that’s a deal. Usually they’re anywhere from $1.59 – $2.49 per mango these days, so I couldn’t resist. I got nine huge mangoes and needed to make sure they didn’t get wasted. I’m not a big Costco person, I think I go twice a year and once it’s not even for me…but every once in a while I find something I’m happy about.
So mangoes…for the first type of snacks, I let the mangoes do the talking and dried them straight up as they are. If the fruit is ripe there is no need to add anything to them. You cut them into slices that are up to about a 1/4″ in size. If they’re a little bigger or a little smaller, it’s not a big deal (they might take a little more or less time to dry). The big thing is making the slices as uniform as possible in width so they all dry at relatively the same rate. Drying time and temperature for these ones was approximately 7 hours at 135F.
These mango slices are fantastic – I actually never knew they could taste so good and so much like mango, because the ones you get at the store just don’t compare – plus they have on average 25+ grams of sugar for a very small serving; even the organic ones have 20g of sugar. They also often times have sulphites or sodium derivatives in them as preservatives.
And I’ll be honest I love the Philippine Brand dried mangoes – but after doing this myself, I am going to try to stick to mine for a couple of reasons. 1) The cost, for the case of mangos that I bought for $10.99 I got about 10 oz. of dried fruit snacks, 4 popsicles and 3 oz. (about 8) of fruit strips and I still have 2 mangoes left. The bags you can buy at the grocery store range from $3.99 (I haven’t seen them that low in years) to $6.99 and it’s 3.5 oz of dried fruit. The math just doesn’t make sense anymore. On top of that – my favourite brand has mangoes, sugar and sulphur dioxide or sodium metabisulfite for ingredients. Mine have mangoes – it’s a no brainer.
My other two snacks I had a little more fun with. First I decided to add coconut so I took my mango slices and tossed them in fresh lime juice and unsweetened coconut flakes. For a whole mango, I used half a lime or about 1 tbsp. of lime juice and about 1/4 cup of coconut.
Then I decided to try something that I ate a lot while in Thailand – mangoes tossed with red chili pepper flakes, lime juice, salt and sugar. These ones I did add a little sugar to – but a very small amount. So for one mango I used half a lime (again about 1 tbsp. of fresh lime juice), a sprinkle of salt – one turn from my salt shaker, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 to 2 tsp. of dried red chilis this really depends on how spicy you like it. Start with one, toss and eat a piece fresh. If you want to kick it up a notch, add a little more.
Drying time and temperature for these two snacks was about 9 hours at 135F.
Times will vary and you need to play around with it, as the natural sugar and moisture contents definitely play a role – and then whatever you may add to them. They won’t dry in less than 6 hours, so start there and give them the extra time they need hour by hour.
I also made fruit strips and popsicles. I used my spicy recipe above (x2) and added 2 tbsp. of unsweetened coconut flakes and blended in my magic bullet. I poured part of it into four popsicle moulds and the rest of it onto my fruit rollup tray. Popsicles in the freezer until frozen and the fruit strips took about 10 hours at 135F.
You don’t need a dehydrator to do this. It is definitely easier and you can do way more at a time – but you CAN absolutely do this in the oven as well. Basically you want to turn the oven on to the lowest setting – which can range between 150F to 200F. You’re drying time may vary slightly from a dehydrator so you’ll need to play around with it a bit. It won’t take less than 6 hours – so start there and add extra time hour by hour until your snacks reach the right consistency.
Each fruit varies – due to natural moisture and sugar content, so what works for mangoes may not work for strawberries or bananas. I will be posting other fruit too, so stay tuned to see your favourite fruits down the road.
Till the next recipe,