For this weeks challenge, we chose our electric dryer,since we have already used our sun. We began by buying two bunches of organically grown bananas. After looking about, it became obvious there are many opinions about how thick and how long they should be dried as well as how best to prepare them. Melissa suggested we look up the manual for our particular dryer, A Nesco American Harvest: a cheap unit for all practical purposes; however, cheap things can sometimes surprise us, so we'll see how it works out. The suggestion bore sweet fruit. A simple process was laid out that reflected similar suggestions by others. Perfect!
We sliced each in thin rounds between one quarter and one eighth-of-an-inch thick. They dried for about nine hours, and Melissa shut it down about 3 am. They tasted great but had the consistency of a thin Lays potato chip. Still, Melissa and or son, Solomon, took full advantage of their easily accesible location; hence, the empty space on the top rack in the picture.
Thus far, it seems the dryer is doing well. Although it looks as if there isn't too much once dried, we filled one quart jar and about a fifth of another.
Encouraged by the results,we chose to dry all our peaches and what bananas we had left: 2. Unlike the earlier batch, we cut them in one quarter to one half inch slices for uniformity and to keep the bananas from drying too quickly. I'm not convinced that will work out, but this is a challenge, right? Below is the result.
The last picture shows the total gained from the last two days of drying. Last night about 5 pm, the dryer appeared to die. My first thought was "Bloody cheap dryer, figures it would die now!" To our relief, we were wrong. It turns out it will turn itself off if it gets too hot--what a novel idea! * smirking* The peaches lost almost all their thickness but only a shred of their taste, and as we had hoped, the bananas didn't turn out like chips again; in fact, unlike the peaches, they held most of their thickness, but I think they lost a bit more of their flavor.
All in all, this experience was a great success! We learned some very valuable things from this challenge. Preserving food isn't as complicated as one might think, nor is it as time consuming as we expected. Given practice, the proper hardware, and a developed system, a lot more can be done in the same amount of time. With Fall definitly encroaching into summer's territory, it'll be less challenging to make the most of the harvest this year. Thanks a lot Jenny, it's been a real pleasure.
We wish you all the best,
David and Melissa