If you've been following my facebook page, you know that I've been preserving food like crazy! A few weeks ago we had more bushels of pears sitting in our basement than I care to admit or remember right now. A kind neighbor has shared his pears with us for the last few years, which comes in handy because our pear trees are still not mature. For us that means pear jam, canned pears, eating pears, and my personal favorite: dried pears!
Have you ever tried dried pears?
Dried pears are so good they almost make you feel guilty eating them. They are one of my favorite sweet tooth cravings because they taste like candy. I love to snack on a few during that gap between lunch and dinner when you're ready to go grab a snickers to curb your sweet tooth. They are a great after school snack or a great addition to a healthy lunch from home for the kids.
The nice thing is they are super easy to make! Here's what you do:
How to Dehydrate Pears
Step 1: Wash pears and peel, if desired. Really the only point of peeling pears is for aesthetics. Pear peels do not compromise the taste of dried pears because they are so thin. And I personally think leaving the peels on gives dried pears a little personality. Not to mention, it's a WHOLE LOT EASIER!
Step 2: Cut pears in half and core.
Step 3: Slice pears thinly lengthwise. For this step the easiest thing that I've found to do the job is one of these handy, dandy manual slicers. They slice the pears evenly, which makes it really easy to tell when to take the pears out because they are all dried at once. The thinner you slice the pears, the quicker they will dry. This particular slicer slices the pears so thin that they come out like pear leather. You may want a thicker slice so they come out more chewy. Experiment with both to see which type your family likes best.
Step 4: Arrange pear slices on the dehydrator trays, making sure there are no overlapping pieces or your pears will not dry evenly. While you can dehydrate with the sun or the oven, I highly recommend buying a dehydrator. It will save you a lot of extra time and it's one of those purchases that is well worth the cost! I bought this low cost dehydrator and it has been great. For more serious dehydrating, there are bigger models like the Excalibur Food Dehydrator that are like the Cadillac of food dehydrating (and on my dream wish list for someday...)
Step 5: Spray or brush sliced pears with lemon juice, optional. Doing this will dehydrate your pears to a lighter color so they are more aesthetically pleasing. The easiest way that I've found is to fill a Misto Sprayer with lemon juice (I usually just use the bottled lemon juice because it's easy). First spray the tops of the pears with the lemon juice. Then hold the tray up and spray through the grating to get the bottoms of the pears. This goes really fast with the misto sprayer so I highly recommend one.
Step 6: Dehydrate for 8-24 hours. The exact time will depend on how thick your slices are, the humidity, your dehydrator and a lot of other factors. Dehydrate until pears are still bendable but not sticky.
Step 7: Store dried pears in sealed containers in a cool dark place. If you've dehydrated them enough and stored them correctly dried pears will keep for a year or more. But in our house, I can’t seem to keep them that long. They get eaten up too fast!