Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple harvest time!

We have two apple trees in our backyard, and they typically bear fruit every other year. I wish the trees were on alternate years, but unfortunately all the bounty arrives at once!

Often we have more apples than we can use, and two years ago I am ashamed to admit that many of the apples went rotten, because we didn't get ourselves organized to do anything with them. (This is why this post is on my "One Year (or Five Years) to an Organized Life" blog!)

My parents handed down a large homemade food dryer several years ago, and we have dried apples in the past. However, it's powered by a lightbulb (and consequently takes a couple of days to dry the fruit), has to stay in the backyard because of its bulk, and has screens with wooden frames (that are difficult to wash). As a result, it's cumbersome to dry food. I decided that if I were really to actively dry fruit this year, I needed to invest in a more user-friendly food dryer. This is what I ended up with:
Nesco food dehydrator
I bought it at Fred Meyer--it was on sale for $45, and I had an additional 10% off it was about $40. I put it to work immediately last night. The apples were nearly done by the time I went to bed, with an additional hour this morning to finish them off. SOOOOO easy! I think I'm going to have fun with it!

To prepare the apples, I used my trust apple peeler/corer/slicer, which I bought several years ago. It only comes out of the cupboard when we have a lot of apples. I LOVE this thing. It makes the process so much easier and faster.

The one downside to the food dehydrator is that it doesn't take the quantity that the homemade one does (although I could purchase more trays to do more fruit at once). After filling the dryer, I kept coring/peeling/slicing and made a pot of homemade applesauce.

I followed Mark Bittman's recipe (from my iPhone app of How to Cook Everything!), which consisted of cut apples in a pot with 1/2 inch of water and a sprinkling of salt. Then he offers suggestions for additional ingredients. I added peeled fresh ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a couple of spoons of brown sugar. It turned out great, and I won't be surprised if it's gone by Friday. Next time I will make more.

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