Friday, July 28, 2017

Dehydrated Cinnamon Apple Fries

Cinnamon Apple Fries

Dehydrated Cinnamon Apple 'Fries'

    Every fall I appreciate how fortunate I am to live close enough to some local u-pick apple orchards here in Minnesota that offer a wonderful variety of apples at reasonable prices. We love to take a day trip with the grand kids to pick apples and enjoy the farm experience complete with hay rides, feeding farm animals and watching the apple washing and sorting operation for the commercial end of the orchards business. In addition to the many u-pick options I have been blessed with a wonderful friend who is more than happy to share her homegrown apple bounty with me and my family. 

Fresh picked apples

    One of the many things I like to make is Cinnamon Apple Fries a wonderfully healthy and crunchy snack made by dehydrating julienne apples tossed in cinnamon. They are quick and simple to make if you have the right tools mainly a mandolin with a julienne blade attachment and any basic food dehydrator

    Once the apples are cleaned it is a simple process to julienne the whole apple without peeling or coring directly into a bowl of lemon water or water treated with citric acid to prevent browning. If you prefer not to treat the apples it will not affect the end product taste or flavor. Your end result with an untreated apple is just a little additional browning which is purely aesthetic.

    When slicing the apples don't worry about the core or the seeds. The majority of the seeds fall out of the apples before they make it to the dehydrator trays and the rest fall out after the apples have been dried. The cores end up becoming dry and crispy so you will not even notice them when enjoying your healthy treat.

Using the julienne blade on your mandolin slice the washed, whole apple directly into a bowl of water treated with lemon juice or citric acid (fruit fresh).

Drain your apples in a large colander while you julienne slice your next bowl of apples.

Toss batches of apples with cinnamon or leave plain if you wish.

Place the apples on your dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 135 degrees until crispy. Times will vary based on your local temperatures and humidity levels.

Once completely dried to your preference, I like mine crispy, condition them overnight and then store for long term or immediate consumption. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Zucchini Gummy Candy

Zucchini Gummy Candy

    If you like me have at least one zucchini plant, you find that no matter how fast you pick and eat them you always end up with several so large that they are no longer good for fresh eating. You can only make so much zucchini bread and when the neighbors see you coming and hide behind locked's time to be whats a girl to do!
    I just finished my Zucchini Gummy Candy and I am very happy with the results...there are several methods if you wish to search a little further or adjust this recipe to meet your personal preferences, some use juice and others don't add the finishing sugars or use other combinations to finish them to prevent them from sticking together into a large lump when stored. Use what works for you and your families dietary needs. However, I will say that these turned out very flavorful and the texture was very similar to an actual gummy bear only not as sticky to your teeth when eaten.
    I wanted to make an assortment of flavors to please the very discriminating pallet of my grand kids... just kidding...they'll eat anything I dehydrate. After peeling and cubing my zucchini I divided it into three and used Grape, Fruit Punch and Orange Kool-aid. This flavored simple syrup can be used multiple times if stored in the fridge.

** I have had many people ask if this recipe can be made using natural fruit juice as a sweetener instead of the kool-aid. So I have included the equivalent ingredients for making the simple syrup used to 'candy' the zucchini.

** Sugar substitutes could also be used for those who want to keep them 'refined' sugar free or more diabetic friendly. I would use the recommended equivalent substitution using your preferred 'sugar substitute' for the sugar in the recipe.

** I have since tried this with over sized cucumbers with equal success following the same directions.

Zucchini Gummy Candy

1 envelope unsweetened kool-aid
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
4-6 cups zucchini
*Peeled, seeded and cubed into 1 x 1/2 inch cubes (approximate, sizes will vary some but try to keep as uniform as possible for even dehydrating)

Finishing sugar:
1/2 cup powdered, sweetened lemonade mix or sugar
2 tbsp citric acid or to taste (use if you wish to have a sour patch style gummy candy)

Substitution for using all natural fruit juice: 
1 can frozen juice concentrate (undiluted)
3/4 cup sugar
4-6 cups zucchini
*Peeled, seeded and cubed into 1 x 1/2 inch cubes (approximate, sizes will vary some but try to keep as uniform as possible for even dehydrating)
*Follow the remaining recipe as written. If possible it is important that you used the additional sugar as you are making a 'simple syrup' with the juice that will 'candy' the zucchini. To get the proper gummy candy after dehydrating it is important that they are completely infused all the way through with the simple syrup.

    Bring the first three (or two if using juice concentrate) ingredients to a low simmer and then add your zucchini and continue to simmer on low for about 25 minutes. You do not want the zucchini to start to break down so be sure to check it often, it should turn tender but not mushy. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. I let mine sit long enough to absorb enough of the flavored simple syrup to look translucent. I have kept the cooked zucchini in the fridge over night when I have had my dehydrator in use and it has helped to intensify the flavor. Drain and reserve the simple syrup if you plan to make more, the excess simple syrup will last in the fridge several days. Place on your mesh dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 125 degrees. Dehydrate until leathery and still slightly tacky but not wet. Times will vary based on how large or small you make your cubes and your local weather temperature and humidity levels. Mine went for approximately 18 hours.
    When done remove from your trays and allow to cool. Add them in small batches to a Ziploc bag with your finishing sugar and toss till well coated. Sift out excess sugar using a colander or a mesh strainer.
    I vacuum pack in pint canning jars and have stored them for up to 9 months. They could have lasted longer but we ate them up to fast to know for sure....