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Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child: My New (To Me) Dehydrator And Making Banana Chips

Monday, August 18, 2014

My New (To Me) Dehydrator And Making Banana Chips


    A couple of weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page that I was in the market for a dehydrator and a pressure canner for cheap to free. My post was lost along my page and I had no idea someone had responded until my mother called to ask if I had picked up the dehydrator yet. Well, no... I had no idea a friend had commented on my post. One of the great ladies at our Ag Extension Office had an extra one, I just needed to go pick it up.
Waring Dehydrator instructional manual and Drying Guide
     I am very excited to have a dehydrator! The Lady that gave it to me said, 'It's an oldie but still a goodie!' So far, I have to agree. It does not have any fancy knobs, no cool attachments.. But my daughter and I could not be happier. Learning to grow, harvest, and preserve foods we grew ourselves is an important part of our life learning experience. We homeschool with a whole life aspect. 
     So far we have dehydrated applemint leaves and have bananas in there today. Doing bananas first was my daughters choice, but after reading some instructions, we realized our bananas were to green. That is when we decided to dry the applemint leaves from the plants our awesome neighbor gave us. You can see that post HERE
      After a couple of days, our bananas were finally ready. We followed the instructions we found on a mommy blogger page. (We were so into making the banana chips, we forgot to take photos of the steps. Whoops!)
Dehydrating Bananas

  1. Peal your banana and slice it into 1/4 inch rounds. (We ate the ends as we cut them.)
  2. Soak in fresh lemon juice to prevent over browning. 
  3. Oil your dehydrator trays and place the bananas around the tray making sure the edges do not touch. 
  4. Place trays in your dehydrator that is set to about 135 degrees. 
  5. Leathery/chevy slices will take up to 12 hours. Crisp chips take around 24 hours. Move the trays around to different levels to insure even drying.
  6. For long term storage, it is better make them crispy rather than chewy. Moisture aids in bacteria growth and will cause them to spoil faster. You can use food grade mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to store your bounty. You can find them HERE. However, I am going to put these in a jar so we can munch on them for a while. :)

We had not found the instructions about oiling the trays before placing them on, so about 4 hours in I realized there was a problem. I flipped them when they were already in the process of drying so they were stuck just a bit. That is why they do not look all flat and pretty like other people more experienced. This does not effect the flavor, so we are not worried about it.)

     They took a lot longer to dry than we expected. We are were nearly 24 hours in and they were still kind of chewy. Since I am not planning on storing them long term, this is not a problem. Bananas in any form or fashion do not last long in my house. (Just ask us how long the freeze dried bananas lasted us!) 
     One thing I have read that surprised me, but also gave me an common sense moment, was people tend to eat more of dried fruits than they do fresh fruits. They are smaller, but the only difference in a dried fruit and a fresh one, is the water content. So eating 1/4 cup of dried fruit is the same as eating 1 cup of fresh fruit. Yes, some of the nutrients will be lost in the process, however, home dried fruits retain a higher level than processed, store bought dried fruits. Both dried fruits and fresh fruits are both healthy, but fresh fruit contains needed water to keep you hydrated and feeling full for longer and faster. We are learning about long term storage of fruits and vegetables, so this does not bother me. 
     Back in grandma and grandpa's time. Fruits and veggies were seasonal. We have forgotten what is like to not be able to go to the big box store and get our favorite fruits and veggies when we want them. (But what if you could not just run to the store and get what you want when you want it? Dried preservation and canning is what grandma and grandpa did!) Now, honestly, bananas are not something we can grow ourselves in our area. This was still a learning process we enjoyed. We have peach trees and wild plums on our property (our nectarine tree died early this year) but we did not have the dehydrator when we had those fruits to practice drying on. Next year we will be busy!

    Want to learn more about dehydrating foods? Wikipedia and The National Center For Food Preservation has a lot of interesting facts, history, and how to information. By far the the best info I have found has come from Dehydrate2store and  Wikihow

This blog is for entertainment purposes only, do your own research before attempting to any dehydrating on your own. This post may contain affiliate links.