The first batch was apples, bananas and strawberries. Following the dehydrator's instructions, the fruits would have been dried for days. But Mom and Nannie both said they check their goods after the first 6 hours and that's usually all it takes.
Oops. My fruit dried for 26 hours! So the apples and bananas were hard and shriveled up and the strawberries were black. I still ate 'em though. They were decent in a bowl of oatmeal with butter and brown sugar.
This time I kept a closer eye on the peaches — yellow and white fresh from the farmer's market.
The yellow peaches were a bit smaller and dried a lot faster. So, though not black and hard as rocks, I think they're a bit over done.
The white peaches may have needed to dry a little bit more. They're still too moist.
(The white stuff? It's yogurt. More on that below.)
I put the fruit in around 5:30 p.m. on Monday and took them out of the dehydrator at 6 a.m. the next morning. So 7 hours total.
So now I've got to figure out how to adjust the drying time depending on the different peach and fruit.
If I don't get this down, I don't think dried fruits are going to make it into any gift baskets this Christmas. :-/
I'm also experimenting with making yogurt.
Chris and I love to eat it and it's a good substitute for buttermilk or sour cream. But I can't bear to buy a lot of containers that are plastic #5. We can't recycle them locally and we can't seem to bring ourselves to throw them out!
Many of the little yogurt containers are still sitting around the basement, ready for reuse as small pots for starting seeds or other projects.
Then there's the all the sugar loaded into store-bought yogurt. That makes an otherwise healthy food into a nightmare. :P
So, when I learned many people make their own yogurt and how easy it was, I wanted to give it a try.
You basically heat up some milk (to 185 degrees F or higher) and then let it cool (down to 100 or 115 degrees F). You add a couple tablespoons of yogurt or more (or some kind of starter you can buy at a specialty store) and let it sit for 7 hours or so, keeping the temp around 100 degrees F.
I also just found this crock pot recipe here. I used a crock pot as a hot plate, placing the mason jar in the crock pot to keep the contents cool. This might a good version to try out.
My yogurt came out a little . . . okay, very runny. I didn't have a couple of tablespoons of store-bought yogurt, so I had to try it with a tablespoon and a lot of scrapping from the container. I used 3 1/2 cups of 2 percent milk.
I know one writer said that the yogurt would be a lot more runny than store-bought yogurt, but this was almost like water. :P
I didn't use the powdered milk like many people recommended, but said was optional. I don't have powdered milk on hand and I don't want to have to buy an extra ingredient that I would rarely use. The idea here is to make this easier on us and to reduce a lot of packaging.
Next time I'll try to use a lot of yogurt as a starter and maybe a little less milk to see how that'll work.
I may also add some honey, though I could add that when I plan to eat the yogurt plain. Otherwise, I think using yogurt without sweetener will work just fine for using the it as a sour cream/buttermilk substitute.
As for the incubation period, I'm hoping that using the crock pot was a way to go because I sort of liked how easy that was. I just don't know if the temperature is right or not. Hopefully it wasn't so hot that it was hindering the yogurt-making process.
Here's a dairy cookbook I want to try out. I've you've got it, let me know how it is. If you don't but buy it, let me know what you think.