Most commercially dried fruits and vegetables use sulfides and preservatives even on dried foods as a precaution. Many people have allergies to these preservatives and if you don’t want chemicals on your foods, you might consider dehydrating your own. Dehydrated fruits make excellent snacks as drying preserves almost all of the vitamins and nutrients of foods.
Dehydrating Basics: Clean and slice vegetables very thin. They will dehydrate better if cut into thin slices rather than chunks. Lay all the pieces out on racks in a dehydrator or use metal oven racks. Make sure none of the vegetable slices overlap or touch each other.
They must be completely dry before you store them or they will get moldy, so it’s better to over-dry them than not dry them enough.
If using an oven to dehydrate, you will have to get some very small-spaced metal racks or use cookie sheets and flip the produce on a regular basis until completely dry. Use a heat setting of 200 degrees or less. You want to dry it not cook it, or it will still rot and spoil. Dehydrators are not that expensive and well worth the investment. They will pay for themselves in no time.
Rinse and clean fruit. Core or pit it but leave the peels on for flavor and nutrients. Slice thinly, about 1/8 inch thin or less. Arrange on dehydrator or oven racks and dry according to directions.
When fruit is dry enough to snap it in half and it is not rubbery or flexible, it’s dry enough for chips and to store for about 6 months in a glass jar with a lid.
Not only do these make tasty nonprocessed snacks, but you can add them to your homemade granola. Recipe is on page 122.
Banana Chips: Slice bananas 1/8 inch thick or less. Banana slices must be dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from browning while they dry. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice in a bowl and after slicing the bananas, drop them into the bowl to coat them. Then arrange them on racks for drying.
Dried Vegetables: Vegetables such as Okra, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions etc., can be preserved and used in soups, stews or other dishes. The best way to use them once dried is to either put them in a dish with enough liquid to re-hydrate them fully, or to soak what you need for a recipe for a couple hours to re-hydrate them before use.