September 14, 2022

Dried Pear Sauce

Fruit and vegetable powders are very popular amongst folks who dry a lot of food. That intrigued me, so dehydrated pear sauce was the first thing I made using my new blender. I started with a quart of pear sauce that I didn't can.

I don't have fruit leather trays for my dehydrator, so I used waxed paper and spread it with a spoon. I tried to keep the thickness under a quarter inch.

After about a day in my dehydrator, the texture was similar to fruit leather.

It was pliable, and this is how people make fruit roll-ups. To powder it, however, I needed it drier. It was sticking to the wax paper, so I peeled it off and returned it for another day in the dehydrator.

It never got truly crisp, but it got dry enough to break into smaller pieces.

It only took a few seconds in the blender, using the tamper to push the pieces on top toward the blades.

One quart of pear sauce yielded about a pint dried. It isn't like a true powder, it's moister than that and a little sticky. More like brown sugar but not.

Lastly, I vacuum sealed the jar with my little hand pump to protect it from pantry moths and humidity. (I don't trust ants either!)

I'm thinking this would be a fantastic thing for hikers and campers. It could be sealed in small-serving mylar bags to carry. For myself, I will probably rehydrate some just to see what it's like, but since I have plenty of pear sauce canned for serving right out of the jar, I'll mostly use the powder for baking. It can be added directly to baked-good batters without reconstituting. I foresee myself using it in cakes, muffins, cookies, pancakes, etc. I like pieces of dried fruit for our granola and oatmeal, or for baking like my Better Than Fig Newton Bars and Fruit Cake Cookies.

Dehydrating versus canning. Which is better?

I think where we fall in this debate depends on our preserving, cooking, and eating habits. Canning lends itself well to large quantities of an item and is usually the first way I preserve the harvest. Drying (and freezing) work well for small quantities that aren't enough to can. Both dehydrating and canning take time and a power source, although I'm pretty sure that my dehydrator uses less electricity than my stove, even though it takes longer. When necessary, I've canned on a wood cookstove and over a campfire. My dehydrator requires electricity, and while solar dehydrators do exist, I read they don't work well in humid climates like mine.

Dried foods definitely use fewer jars for the same fresh quantities and need less storage space, which are both pluses. Also, they can be stored in mylar bags, making them easier to transport than heavy, bulky jars. On the other hand, dried foods require some planning ahead to prepare, while canned goods are basically ready to use. Dried foods need to be protected from potential pest and moisture damage. Canned goods have the potential for a broken seal and spoilage. When properly stored, both have a good shelf life (see Grandpappy's "Five Different Shelf Life Studies" for some surprising information). 

No matter our habits and preferences, I think having both canned and dried on hand increases food security and versatility. Now, I have two forms of dried fruits and veggies - pieces and powder. And that means even more options.

Okay, you home food preservers out there, your turn. Favorite methods? What are they and why? Any ideas or tips to share with the rest of us? Anything new you've discovered? We want to know!

Dried Pear Sauce © September 2022


Judy said...

I liked my dehydrated sauces but when I repeatedly opened the jar to take a spoon or two out at a time, the humidity got to it and I had this clump stuck in the bottom of the jars. I could either chip it out and chance breaking the jar or pour enough hot water in and try to re-hydrate it enough to dig it out. My last experiment with dehydrating sauces was getting it to the fruit leather stage. Then cutting everything into strips that would fit in a wide-mouth pint fruit jar, dehydrating a bit further(turning them over to make sure both side were dry). Placed the strips on parchment paper. Then, layered the strips in the jar, so I could take strips individually. I found that to be the most useful method for me. By the way, not using parchment paper between the strips doesn't work either. Sigh!

Barbara said...

Darcy at Purposeful Pantry has a video on drying fruit leather and then making it into powder. I learned about “conditioning “ my dehydrated goods from her. Hope this is helpful.

Leigh said...

Judy, good for you for sticking with it and experimenting!

I have a terrible time with humidity and clumping too, which is why I vacuum seal everything and reseal between uses. Store bought onion and garlic powder aren't immune, but I can't seal those. I think in future I'm going to transfer those to canning jars to seal, although I'm also going to have to try my own, now that I have a blender that will actually powder things.

Barbara, thanks for the link. Darcy's videos are excellent resources! I've seen her talk about conditioning in other videos, but this one is more detailed. Very helpful.

Ed said...

I've never made a fruit powder and had never heard of it until now. My wife has been playing around with apple cider donuts over the years but always complains that they lack intense apple flavor. I'm thinking an apple powder might be the solution here and right now I have loads of apples and a food dehydrator. My project for the day.

I'm like you. I prefer canning when I have a lot to preserve like the bushel basket full of apples sitting in my kitchen right now. I've been making a batch of apple pie filling each day for the last several days. Yesterday, I threw a bunch in the crockpot and made sauce for my kids. My little one requested dried apple slices which I was planning on doing today.

Probably my biggest thing I use my dehydrator for is for preserving my pepper harvest which is producing way more peppers that I could ever hope to use. I usually just dehydrate pepper halves and store them that way. When needed, I take a couple dried halves out of the plastic bag and chop them up. But it has me thinking that perhaps I should powder them and put them in an old spice jar to just sprinkle into the food.

So many ideas from this post. Thanks Leigh!

Leigh said...

Ed, with all those apples, you can do all kinds of lovely things! Very fun. I have to say that we really like dried fruit slices to snack on. I think of them as similar to fruit leather, but easier and quicker to make.

If I were to guess about the flavor of the apple cider donuts, it would be that the fruit acids (malic?) in the cider is being neutralized by the baking soda or baking powder. The acids really have a lot to do with flavor, and without them the result is much more bland (like forgetting to add the salt). I'm saying that based on the experiments I did writing How To Bake Without Baking Powder. I wondered if using vinegar or lemon juice for leavening would change the flavor of the baked product, but it didn't! So definitely try some apple powder! You can probably go right from crispy dried apple slices to powder. I'm thinking she'll get that apple-y flavor in her donuts (and please let us know how this turns out!)

Leigh said...

P.S. That's a great idea about trying pepper powder. If I get a few extra peppers this year, I'll try that too.

Ed said...

Since I discovered this morning that the "drip" tray in my dehydrator is actually for dehydrating runnier things, I smeared some applesauce on it to go with the other trays of apple slices. I also ordered more of those silicone things for the other trays so perhaps this weekend I can do more.

I use a mechanical apple corer/paring device that essentially leaves my apples in a giant spiral. The slices end up being probably a little over an 1/8th inch thick with no adjustment to that. While I have dehydrated bits and pieces to a crispy texture, most of the apple slice remains pliable. Thus I started with the applesauce smeared thinner to see how long it will take to get crispy.

P.S. I found the bottom of my bushel basket of apples today. Tomorrow will be the last of my apple preservation for the year.

Leigh said...

Ed, I have the same pliable texture with most of the apple and pear slices I dehydrate. I think it may have to do with the sugar content.

I'll be curious as to how your silicone sheets work for drying the sauce. I won't use the waxed paper again, but I may try parchment paper in the future (or get some silicon inserts myself).

Jean Ellen said...

I don't have enough fruit to dehydrate, but I do have some amazing pimento peppers this year. Some, I have chopped and frozen but I also tried dehydrating. I cut the pepper into small pieces and placed in the dehydrater, It took about 48 hours, but I finally got it dry enough to grind in my coffee grinder. I now have a small jar of pimento 'dust' to sprinkle on grilled cheese sandwiches, salads, etc. I love the taste.

Leigh said...

Jean Ellen, dehydrated pepper flakes is a great idea! I've started experimenting more with drying and grinding. Some things do take a long time to dehydrate though.