Dried Pears

Do you see a theme in my last two posts? Yup, it's pears. (Well, there was also a recent apple post...)

We planted a pear tree so long ago I don't even remember what variety. It grew like a weed and starting producing many years ago. Every year the tree is so heavily laden with fruit that branches bend to their breaking point. The tree is not lovely, has never been properly pruned, but does it's job relentlessly without complaint.

Just like me. (HA HA HA!!!!!)

Anyway. If you've been reading my blogs this year, you know I am on a roll. I finally harvested massive amounts of concord grapes, and thanks to my workaholic friends Michelle and Patti, the grapes were transformed into batches of preserves and pie filling.

Now I've moved on to attacking the pear situation. I've harvested several bushels worth of fruit. First I made the pear ginger apple sauce which I used in the Roasted Pumpkin and Pear Soup. (See my blog of the same name.)

This past week I had the brain storm of drying the pears. I needed a method of preserving that wouldn't take up precious space in the fridge. So I borrowed an enormous dehydrator from Michelle. It is called a Nesco Gardenmaster and it is not kidding around. It contains eight large trays. In one week, I dried 5 and a half loads. Each load takes 10 hours of drying time, so it is only possible to do one load per day. Thankfully Michelle has been incredibly generous and let me have the contraption for a full week.

The process is fairly time consuming. It involves peeling, coring, and slicing the pears. The instructions recommend removing the peel. Because my pears have never been sprayed, there is some minor insect damage under the skin which must also be removed. Then the slices (about 3/8" thick) are soaked for 10 minutes in a solution of lemon juice and water. (About 1 cup lemon juice to 1 quart water.) After soaking, the slices are arranged (not touching!) on the trays, the temperature is set to 140F, and the dehydrator does its magic for 10 hours.

The dried pears come out slightly leathery, and super sweet, with a nice chewy bite. My teenaged daughter (who refuses to eat anything I cook) gobbled down an entire tray before they even began to cool.

The dried pears can be stored in ziplock baggies in the fridge or freezer for longer storage. Or at room temperature as long as all the moisture has been removed. I'm doubting they will last long enough to go bad, though.

While I had this massive contraption in my home, I also dried a couple dozen apples from Larriland. This is a fabulous way of storing an abundance of apples. After only 8 hours, the quarter inch slices were crisp, almost like an apple chip.

I am completely sold on the idea of dehydrating EVERYTHING now, so watch out for more posts when I get my own giant machine.