I'll be honest. I'm not a fan of apricots. In fact, I never have been. To me, they're peach imposter's. Posers. In my eyes, this humble little fruit will never rise to the same level of greatness as their larger cousins. Nor will they ever be a favorite of mine. But if they are dehydrated, their likeability factor rises tremendously.
Apricots are high in potassium, fiber, and vitamins A & C. Once dried, apricots can be used in many ways; added to baked goods, sauces, granola or oatmeal, trail mix, or eaten plain. My favorite way to use dried apricots is in place of raisins in oatmeal cookies. Yum!
Dehydrating apricots is a simple process. If you have a dehydrator, or access to one, a knife, some lemon juice, and a bowl is all you'll need.
Fill a large plastic or glass bowl with 1 gallon of cold water. Add 1 cup bottled lemon juice to the water. This will keep the apricots from turning brown. (As they dry, the apricots turn a yellowish brown, but that is normal.)
Wash the apricots in cold water. Cut each apricot in half and carefully remove the pit. Place the halves in the lemon water. Continue until bowl is full, but all of the apricots are fully submerged. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.
Remove from water and gently shake excess water from the apricots. Lay cut side down onto dehydrator trays, being careful not to crowd the fruit. This will allow the air to flow around and dry the apricots evenly. (I actually added more to the above tray.)
Set the temperature to 130F. and plug the unit in. Allow the fruit to dry until the pieces have no moisture pockets in them (which will cause mold to occur), but are not brittle. If they get too dry, don't worry, they can still be used in recipes after rehydrating.
With my dehydrator, I dried the fruit for approximately 24 hours, rotating the trays once. (The newer dehydrators will probably take less time; consult your owner's manual for their suggested times.) Mine were probably done at about 20 hours, but I refuse to get up in the middle of the night unless someone leaves the all-you-can-eat buffet sign on in the chicken coop. Priorities, you know.
Speaking of priorities...
How about a giveaway!?!
Once of my favorite books on preserving foods is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Not only does it have simple canning instructions for the beginner, it also has some fancy schmancy recipes, like; Apricot-Orange Conserve, Fig Pickles, Chow-Chow Relish, Clam Chowder Base, Spiced Pineapple in Pineapple Juice, and Curried Fruit Compote. There are recipes for preserving dairy, freezing fruits, veggies, and pie fillings, dehydrating foods, and making jerky. I cannot tell you how many times I've look through this book. The pages of mine are dog-eared, and many of the pages have to be pulled apart from all the sticky residue. But I love it. And it loves me. I own several different food preservation books, but this one is my favorite, hands-down.
So, here's how to enter:
*You must be a follower of this blog. I'm sorry to have to require this, but my last giveaway yielded a lot of anonymous comments and even more spam. This will count as 1 entry. Already a follower? Leave me a comment telling me so, and you're entered!
*For a second entry, leave a comment telling me what foods you're excited about preserving this year. New to food preservation? That's okay~what would you like to learn?
Hurry ~ this giveaway ends next Monday! I will announce the winner on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Good luck!!