Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dehydrated Pears

This topic isn't really thrillingly gluten free, but yummy nonetheless. At the end of the summer, I usually break out my food dehydrator and start drying things. Yesterday there was a sale on pears at a local store - they were 20 cents per pound. When I got to the store, there was only an empty 4x4x3 foot box where the pears had been. The produce stockers promised more, so I waited for 30 minutes or so. Eventually the employees brought out 3 more of those huge boxes of pears, and the stampede began. Those boxes were empty within 20 minutes, and the produce stockers got a lot of good, clean fun out of the spectacle.
So, what does one do with several bushels of pears? If one is an adept bottler, one bottles them. I (unfortunately) am not. So I bribed my neighbor into helping me bottle them once they ripen. In the meantime I am drying a half bushel that I bought last week. Drying pears doesn't require a lot of knowledge, just some time. But in case the thought of drying fruit scares you, here are the necessary (highly technical) directions.

Peel the pears. Don't cut off your thumb.

Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Core the pears, starting at the fat end. Make sure you pull out most of the stringy things that run from the seeds up to the stem. (I told you these directions were highly technical!)

Place the pear halves, flat side down, on a cutting board. Cut 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick slices.

Spread the pears out on the tray of a food dehydrator. Don't worry about crowding them in; they'll shrink as they dry, and you'll be able to pull apart any pears that get stuck together. Stack the trays on the base of your food dehydrator, and plug it in. Dry them at 135 degrees for 6 to 8 hours. (If your dehydrator isn't adjustable, just keep an eye on them after 4 hours or so.)

Once they are dry, unplug the dehydrator and store the pears in closed containers. You can freeze them if you plan on keeping them for a long time. If your family is going to eat them before you can fully empty all the trays, however, just go ahead and keep them on the counter.
Dried pears are very sweet and incredibly addictive . . . be careful that you don't eat too many at once!