When I was around 10 years old I went with one of my school friends to visit her granny. She lived in a little apartment in one of the wealthy inner eastern suburbs. The walls were lined with posters of old movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and indoor plants dotted the rooms making it appear like some kind of tropical hothouse. When we arrived she was drying all sorts of fruits in a little food dehydrator on the bench. Bananas, kiwis… I'd never seen anything like it. To my ten year old eyes she seemed wildly exotic and mildly eccentric. Very different from my own nanna who I had only known when I was very young and had always seemed very proper and British (she was perhaps the last person on earth I could imagine owning a poster of Marilyn Monroe.) From then on I've always wanted my own dehydrator.
This Christmas I finally fulfilled this somewhat irrational childhood desire. I got the rolls royce of dehydrators and haven't looked back. So far I've dried mangoes, pineapples, nectarines, and heaps of banana chips (before the prices went up).
You might be wondering what the point of drying your own food is. For starters it's cheaper and secondly, commercially dried fruit is dipped in sulphur. Sulphur can trigger all sorts of things (in some people) like asthma, headaches and rashes. Since the kids are so little eating just two commercially produced dried apricots gives them more than double the acceptable daily intake of sulphite. I'm not a dietician or scientist so I'd recommend you do your own research. But as a parent of kids who love dried fruit I'd rather just avoid the worry and make my own sulphur free.
Lately I've been drying vast amounts of plums since my in-laws' tree was particularly prolific this year. I was thinking these were going to turn out a little like a prune but instead I ended up with something that tastes like the sour warheads we used to eat as kids (whatever happened to those?). They certainly make your face pucker into all sorts of contortions but you know I kinda like it. I am pretty sure the kids aren't going to touch these - all the more for me!!
For my next dehydrating adventure I'm planning to make my own yoghurt - stay tuned.