A perfect red apple can be even more delicious as a dehydrated snack.
If raisins or fruit leather tops your kids’ list of favorite edibles, then it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Dehydrated foods pack a powerful punch, with decent nutrient levels and over-the-top taste. The best way to teach kids about dehydrated foods is to show them how it works. The process is easy enough to get the whole family involved. Once you finish removing the moisture from your favorite foods, get ready for some serious noshing of the delectable treats.
1Talk about food dehydrating in simple terms so kids understand the process. Tell your kids that "dehydrate" means to take the water, or moisture, out of something. Explain that raisins and fruit leather are two examples of dried fruits with the moisture removed. Once the foods don’t have the standard moisture content, they don’t need to stay in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s totally cool to keep dehydrated foods in sealed containers at room temperature. This means that the food can be stored longer, too.
2Remove the skins from apples and bananas and slice the fruits into 1/4-inch slices. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and water in a large bowl and toss the apple and banana slices into the bowl to let them soak for about 10 minutes. Lift the fruit slices out of the lemon water with a slotted spoon and shake off the excess lemon juice. This will keep the fruit from browning.
3Wash blueberries, grapes and prunes and then toss them into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Lift the fruit out of the boiling water and transfer it to ice water for another 30 seconds. Dry the fruit well with paper towels. This process cracks the skin of the fruit, which helps the moisture to escape.
4Arrange the prepared fruits onto the trays of the food dehydrator so no pieces touch other pieces. Get your kids to help you with this -- their little fingers can probably do a better job than you can.
5Turn on the food dehydrator and let it run for about three to four hours. Check the foods after this time passes -- let your little ones poke the foods with their clean fingers to see if the foods are dry. The foods should feel leathery. If they don’t feel like this, turn the dehydrator back on again until the foods feel leathery. Show your kids how the foods shrink as the moisture is released.
6Cool the fruit and then transfer it to a plastic container. Fill the container about one-half to two-thirds full and seal it. Shake the container at least once a day to separate the fruits. After 10 days, the fruit is ready for long-term storage in a sealed container.
7Let your little one chow down on the fruits he helped dehydrate. This is one snack you can feel good about watching him eat.
- Make fruit leather by cutting up fruit into chunks. Cook the fruit in the microwave until it’s soft. Puree the fruit in a blender until it’s smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for every 2 cups of fruit puree and stir well. Spray a fruit leather tray with nonstick spray and pour out the pureed fruit into a 1/4-inch-thick layer. Dry the leather between 4 and 10 hours until it feels just a little sticky when you touch it.If you don't have a dehydrator, you can also use your oven, set at its lowest setting, with the door cracked open to create air flow and to allow the moisture to escape.
Things You'll Need
- Paper towels
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Lemon juice
- Measuring cup
- Large bowl
- Slotted spoon4-quart pan
- Food dehydrator
- Storage containers or plastic zipper bags