Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Very Good Thing.

 We are on a quest to eat healthy in our household;
it can be a challenge with the smallest members.

It is overwhelming at times:
most of the "helpful" easy foods we've gotten used to
may be helpful in making preparation easier,
but not so much in the maintenance of our bodies.

In brief, fast foods are garbage.

I have begun the search for healthy snacks for the kids
that don't cost the entire budget of weekly money.

Our apple tree grows sweet apples,
although rather unsightly.

They house worms, grow in odd shapes, and have lots of stings that mark that they've already been tested by other creatures.

They aren't good storing/eating apples.

So I make applesauce
apple fruit leather.

My in-laws gave me this Nesco Dehydrator for Christmas last year,
and I have loved using it.

I've made lots of fruit leather flavors, but it really helps to have a base of applesauce.
I've added elderberries while cooking one batch of apples;
I also made different batches with pumpkin that had been processed;
cranberry sauce that I picked up at a very good sale at a discount store;
wineberries, raspberries,
and some grapes after they'd been used to make juice.

I just added them after the apples had been cooked
and were ready to be made into
(click here to see how that was done with the sauce master: although in that instance it was tomatoes I used.  Apples are done in the same way, after they've been cooked to be softened).

To make the fruit leather, I just spoon some of the fruit sauce onto the little plastic liners.
(I previously spread a little coconut oil onto the liners so that the fruit leather will not stick.)

I spread it out to cover evenly all the way to the edges.

I place the prepared trays stacked together on the drier.

About six hours later, this is what the applesauce looks like.
There should be no mushy areas left: all should be dry.  I check on it more often in the last hour or two, 
because it becomes brittle if left too long.

The whole dried layer comes up pretty easily...

and I divide it into four pieces.
A quarter section is a good size and pretty filling.
There are 8 trays, so by doing this, there will be 32 fruit roll-ups.
(Home-schooling is improving my math skills).

I roll the fruity creature up...

and then they squeeze nicely into quart bags which I then pack into a larger bag with more quart bags; they are then stashed in the freezer.  (They tend to get less freezer burned when wrapped in two layers...
as if they'd last long enough to get freezer burned.)

Here are the fruit leather gobblers.

The dehydrator also makes wonderful dried fruit.
I was hoping to try some of the persimmons from our trees this year, but they fell early.
I'll let you know how it goes in a year.

These were apples I got in bulk from an orchard.
Notice also that for solid fruits, the plastic linings are not needed: just the grated trays themselves.

They were huge, and I found that only about 2 - 3 apples cut up made a tray.
Regular sized apples would probably do 4 or so.
Of course, I ate any odd-shaped pieces,
and suffered for it later in the evening.

Little pieces can fit between the apples and I recommend that alternative.

I cut these 1/4 inch or thinner.  The thinner they are the faster they dry.
(I like to say intelligent things sometimes).

I sprinkle a little cinnamon on some of the layers.
Cinnamon is very good for our bodies,
but I have one daughter who is very fussy doesn't care for the taste of cinnamon,
so I'm nice and don't do all the layers.

A word or warning, if you make these, just a little shake is plenty.  I went overboard on my first batch and had to throw that layer out as I felt like I was eating a spice jar of cinnamon.

These take anywhere from 6 to 9 hours to dry, depending on the thickness of the apples and how moist the variety is.  I used Fujis and Mutsu. 

When they are done, I store a bunch in a canister on the counter
(I figured out this is about 15 large, dried apples)...

so they are handy for me to eat and share.
  (They are a great dieting snack for mothers as well;
as long as one doesn't eat the entire canister in one sitting...
this antidote for my sister)

I also double wrap batches in gallon freezer bags and put them in the freezer as well;
they will store in bags in the cupboard as well, as long as they have been thoroughly dried so there is no chance of them molding.
This is just some of the healthy snacks I was able to dehydrate...

for this eternally hungry mob of rascals.

(Stop licking the lips, Fido.  I was not referring to you).

Although I believe you think of yourself as a bona fide member of their gang.


  1. Looks so yummy! I love apples!

  2. Oh, I got a gut ache just looking at those apples,, but they taste SOOOo good!!! :)


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