As I've mentioned before, we have many an apple-pear tree in our backyard. Thirty-ish. We have taken really good care of them, pruning them every year. We LOVE the old orchard trees. They give an "oldness" to our yard, since the trees are 50 years old.
Last year I bought a dehydrator to try my hand at drying the apple-pears. We actually bought it a little late in the season, so I didn't get around to trying it out last year. Soooo, this year I dusted it off, and put it to use, and I'm in the apple-pear drying business! Actually, I'm definitely not going into business, but I've got it down to such a good system, that I fill the dehydrator almost daily.
The dehydrator I am using is the Cabela's Heavy Duty Dehydrator, 10 Tray Model No. 75-0401-C. I don't have anything to compare it to, but it works great for what I'm doing, and I haven't had any issues with it yet.
As I began to look online for fruit-drying instructions, I quickly realized I needed a mandoline. Up to this point, the only mandoline I knew of was the kind without the "e" on the end, which happens to be a musical instrument. After some investigating, I realized a mandoline is a food slicer, and I came to the conclusion that the cost was well worth the investment. Whitney and Mike dropped by the store on the way to our house one evening, and picked me up a OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer. Can I tell you how much I love that little device? It has saved hours and hours of work, and there is no way I would be able to slice each of my apple-pears to an exact 1/4" thickness without it.
To dry your own apple-pears, first place your fruit in a sink full of cold water to wash off any dirt. We don't spray our fruit with pesticides, so I don't need to really work too hard washing them. To fill my dehydrator, it takes 20-24 medium-sized apple-pears.
Next, peel your fruit. I started to do this the old fashioned way -- with a paring knife. That was resulting in getting me nowhere fast, so I went with my daughter's suggestion, and used my vegetable peeler. Slick.
Next, use an apple-corer to pull the core out of the apple-pear.
At this point, you will fill a large bowl with 8 cups of cool water and 2 T. Cabela's Dehydrator Flavor Guard or lemon juice or pineapple juice. I haven't tried using the lemon juice or pineapple juice yet, but it appears that many other people do it that way. The purpose of the Flavor Guard or lemon or pineapple juice is to keep the fruit from browning, and to preserve the freshness of the fruit.
After all that sweet-talking about the mandoline, you would think I would have photographed it in action. But the truth is, while you're using it, you have lots of fruit juice on your hands and cameras don't react well to having sticky fruit juice all over them. But, just so you can see what it is I'm referring to... here is a photo of the box!
Slice the peeled, cored fruit with your new favorite kitchen tool -- the mandoline. Slice them to 1/4" thick. After slicing, put them in the large bowl of water mixed with Flavor Guard or juice.
After you have filled the bowl with sliced fruit, scoop the fruit out and put it in a colander to drain the excess liquid. It will be important to have the fruit as dry as possible before placing them on the dehydrator trays. I placed a clean towel on a cookie sheet and laid out the fruit rings on the towel. Then, I took another clean towel and dabbed each fruit ring til the excess liquid could no longer be seen on the fruit.
At this point they are ready to go on the trays. Unless, of course, you would like to sprinkle cinnamon on some or all of the fruit. If so, then after dabbing the fruit with the towel, place the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle cinnamon to your desire all over the fruit, making sure the slices are evenly coated.
Place the fruit rings on the dehydrator trays. Be sure to not overlap the fruit.
Keep them in an airtight container. These are so, so yummy! I have enough fruit on my trees to feed a small army, so I think I'll just keep on drying til I'm out of fruit. By the way, for those who are reading this and are also on my fruit-picking list, I haven't gotten around to calling you all yet, but... The Fruit Is ON!!! Come on over and pick before it's all on the ground!