If you’re someone who likes to travel lightly, dehydrating food is a great skill to have in your repertoire. Before you hit the trail this summer, hit up a farmers’ market for some local fruit to take with you. Here are some instructions and information to get you started:
What can you dehydrate?
Ontario cherries, cranberries, peaches, plums, and apples all dehydrate really well. Dried fruit makes a great addition to any trail-mix, granola (like this one!) or oatmeal, and is an awesome camping snack for kids. Once you’ve dehydrated your fruit, you can keep it in a reusable container, reducing your impact on the natural environment as you travel through.
What do I need to know to get started?
Some fruits need to be pre-treated before they’re ready to by dried. This might look like freezing, blanching, steaming or soaking in lemon or lime juice. Make sure to read up on whatever the best practise is for the fruit you’ve chosen.
You will always need to wash your fruit before dehydrating, and often you will need to know how to slice it and place it properly in the dehydrator or oven (face down, in even slices, etc.).
Dehydrating takes time. If you’re planning a menu for your camping trip, put this at the top of your to-do list. You’re often have to wait a full twenty-four hours (or more) for your fruit to be ready.
Follow the recipe carefully. Fruit often has a ‘sweet spot’, and a point of no return after which the fruit is so dry that it’s tough to chew. Pay attention to the number of hours that the fruit is recommended to be dried for, and test the fruit as that time approaches, until you get to know your dehydrator well.
How long is dehydrated fruit good for?
While dehydrating definitely extends the life of the fruit (AND saves you freezer storage space) it has a limited shelf life. Make sure to eat your fruit within a few weeks, and discard it immediately if anything seems off.
What kind of equipment do I need?
While it’s definitely possible to use your own oven, a dehydrator simplifies your process greatly. You can find food dehydrators at many kitchen store, as well as places like Lee Valley and Canadian Tire.
About Ontario Parks
Ontario Parks is the branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources that administers the provincial parks in Ontario. Ontario Parks cover over 78,000 square kilometres of the province. That’s about 10 percent of the province’s surface area or the area equal to all of Nova Scotia!
Ontario Parks’ mandate is to protect significant natural and cultural resources in a system of parks and protected areas that is sustainable and provides opportunities for inspiration, enjoyment and education: now and for future generations.