Monday, 23 May 2011

Oven-dried fruits

Oven-dried Manggo 2

For me, baking macarons is like playing a fun game. Yes, tons and tons of fun! In one of my post, I promised to share with you the method I use for drying fruits. The idea was started when I wanted to bake Tartelette's Powdered Strawberry and Vanilla Bean Macarons. In this country, powdered strawberry is not available in the market, so buying one is not an option. Before that, I read Tartelette's post on Carrot Cake Macarons, and got my inspiration from there, knowing that fruits or vegetables can be dried in an oven. I quickly went to web-search on how to dry fruits and vegetables.. and found several methods for drying fruits or vegetables. Most of the articles on the web that I read were explaining how to dry fruits or vegetables using an electrical food drier, which I don't have and would be difficult to find in this country. It's a much easier method of course. But I was interested only to dry fruits and vegetables using oven. One method that I know I can do for this time being.

After reading more than ten articles about how to oven-dry fruits and vegetables, I could grasp some basic principles on how to do it properly and to maintain the flavor. In fact, the flavor becomes more intense when it is dried.

Strawberry Macarons with oven-dried strawberry

The initial reason to dry fruits was to flavor my macarons shells with different powdered fruits... but since I know how to dry fruits using my oven, I do it often, simply to have a healthy snacks in my jars. So, instead of munching on a bag of potato chips, why not munching on a small bowl of dry-fruit chips? Yum...

oven-dried strawberries

1. Choose the really fresh fruits or vegetables, without bruise or rotten part. This is very important to have the best possible flavor at the end of the process. You can dry different kind of fruits or vegetables, just keep in mind that the more water inside the fruit/vegetable, the longer time it needs to dry.

2. Slice the fruit/vegetable thinly (around 1-2 mm thin). The thicker one would need a longer time to dry. Some websites recommend to bath the sliced fruit/vegetable with vitamin C that has been diluted in water to preserve the freshness. However, I skip on this part and still have a good result. I think, as long as the fruits/vegetables are fresh, none would be rotten or turns bad during the drying process. This vitamin C bath might be useful for fruits/vegetables that oxidate after being peeled and turn grey/blackish on contact with air/oxygen.

3. Pat dry all the slices with kitchen paper towel and arrange them on baking trays lined with parchment paper, and bake in the oven. Flip over the fruit/vegetable slices half way the baking time. To have the best result, the oven temperature should not be higher than 70 Celsius degrees. However, some fruits/vegetables are ok to be baked in 100 Celsius degree oven, as long as they are not delicate, soft, and watery fruits/vegetables (tomato, kiwi, strawberry...), which would change the flavor on a higher temperature. I oven-dried mango with 100 Celsius degree for the first one or two hour, then lower the temperature to 70 Celsius degree for the rest of baking time... and they taste great!

Oven-dried Manggo 1

I like to dry my fruits until it's crispy... just like potato chips! but I know some would like it more when it's chewy. It's up to you. To flavor macarons shells, it is better to have it crispy, so you can turn it into powder form easily with your coffee grinder or food processor.

The whole baking time would be 4-6 hours, depends on how thin the slices are and how you like your dry fruits... crispy or chewy, and remember to flip over all those slices half way to baking time.

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