Sometimes our labor rewards us in leaps and bounds. Farms and homesteads alike have been busy preserving the blessed harvest of fall fruits of the season. What do you do when you have canned and preserved your fruit and still seem to have an abundance of fruit left? Why not dehydrate it! Apples, pears, berries, raisins, figs, and apricots are some of the most popular fruits to dry and will create new and exciting flavors in Fall's favorite recipes.
Some of the most delectable recipes have dried fruit as their special ingredient. In a previous article, it was discussed that the dehydration process minimally effects the fruit's nutrition. The unique flavors and new chewy textures can be a special addition to recipes. In fact, one of the benefits of dried fruits is when you reconstitute it, you can add a deeper layer of flavors. For instance, how does drunken bourbon soaked figs sound? If you want to take your recipe up another notch, consider adding a hard liquor like rum, brandy or even fruit juice can be used in lieu of water to reconstitute fruit.
8 Time-Tested, Delicious Family Favorites That Use Dried Fruit
Easy Homemade Granola
A favorite snack food for trips to the fruit farm or hiking on crisp days.
Makes 6 cups
• 2 cup regular rolled oats
• 1/2 cup flaked coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts such almonds, pecans or peanuts
• 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
• 1/3 cup cooking oil
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• a dash of almond extract
• a dash of coconut extract
• 1/2 - 1 cup of dried fruit of your choice (dried cherries, apples, bananas, cranberries, raisins, blueberries are a great choice)
• 1/4 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1. Combine all the ingredients and stir thoroughly. Add to a baking sheet
2. Bake at 300° F for 20- 25 minutes, or until lightly toasty. The granola will crisp up more once it cools.
Sweet Wheat Berry Cranberry Salad
Wheat berries are a versatile whole grain and delicious in salads or side dishes.
Makes 8 servings
• 2 cups wheat berries
• 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
• 1/4 cup dried apples, diced
• 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 1 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon orange juice
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• salt to taste
For salad: In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients.
For dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss. Refrigerate the dressed salad to allow the flavors to meld before serving. Serve it cold or heat it up for a breakfast cereal.
Spinach Cranberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
This is a favorite during dinner parties and a yummy lunch salad to take tow work.
For Poppy Seed Dressing:
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
• 1 teaspoon grated onion
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
• 8 cups baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed, washed, and dried
• 1 cup dried cranberries, cherries or diced dried pears work well with this
• 1/2 cup whole or chopped toasted walnuts
• 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
For dressing: In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard and onion and process for 20 seconds. With blender or food processor on high, gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds.
For salad: Combine all ingredients until well incorporated and drizzle with dressing.
Whole Wheat German Pancake with Apples
This is a wonderful meal to make on a cool, crisp morning.
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 large eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 2 tablespoons sugar or 1 tablespoon maple syrup for a lighter version
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/2 cups dried apples, thinly sliced
• 2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place butter in a large (11- or 12-inch) cast iron or ovenproof skillet and heat in the oven until butter is melted, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Blend until smooth. Add flour and blend again. Remove skillet from oven, swirl butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, and pour in the batter. Top with apples and bake until the pancake is puffed and browned and apples are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into wedges for serving.
Cinnamon Apple Chips
We cannot seem to keep these on our pantry shelves. The kids love dipping these dehydrated apples in peanut butter for an afterschool snack.
• 3 apples
• ground cinnamon
• granulated sugar
1. Wash and thinly slice the apples. Spread the apple slices on dehydrator sheets making one layer and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar.
2. Dehydrate until apples are crispy. Store apple chips at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Note: Similarly, you can make spiced pears using this same recipe. There is a recipe to follow for spiced pear cake.
Spiced Pear Cake
• 1-½ cups dried spiced pears, sliced thin (see recipe for spiced pears above)
• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups sugar or for a healthier version substitute 1 1/2 cups of maple syrup
• 1 1/4 cups coconut oil
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the caramel glaze:
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/4 cup evaporated milk
Instructions For cake:
1. Reconstitute dried pears in 1 cup of water and allow to sit for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, 2 cups sugar, and oil until blended.
4. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda, and add to egg mixture, stir slowly until blended.
5. Fold in pears, chopped nuts, and vanilla extract.
6. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.
7. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
8. Remove from pan, and drizzle Caramel Glaze over warm cake (directions below).
Alternatively, if you choose not to make the caramel glaze, dust the cake with powdered sugar.
To make the glaze:
Stir together brown sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 1/2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Jessie's Prune Cake
My great-grandmother made this cake and its a family favorite during the holidays.
• 1 cup prunes
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups sifted cake flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon allspice
• 1 teaspoon cloves
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1 cup powdered sugar, optional
1. In a small saucepan, cover prunes with water, and boil until soft and mashable, about eight minutes. Drain water, then mash prunes on a plate. It's ok to leave a few chunks of prunes). Set aside.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat oil, vanilla and sugar well. Add eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and spices.
4. Add creamed mixture alternately with baking soda and buttermilk. Mix well.
5. Add chopped prunes, and pecans.
6. Pour into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan.
7. Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes at 325° F.
8. Cool about 30 minutes.
9. Top with powdered sugar, if desired.
Apple Spice Muffins
• 7 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 1 cup dried apples, diced
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 egg
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
For streusel topping:
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
1. Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, dried applies and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.
2. Preparing muffins: Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
3. Prepare muffin tins by lightly greasing.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
5. Add butter, egg, buttermilk and vanilla to mixing bowl and stir until incorporated.
6. Pour batter into muffin tins until 3/4 full.
7. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter.
8. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes. Start testing for doneness at the end of the suggested baking time. Add an additional 5 minutes if muffins need more time.
These eight recipes are some that I commonly use and as you can see, dried fruit doesn't have to sit on the food pantry shelves for snacks. There are a myriad of uses for dried fruit in your recipes. What's your favorite way of using dried fruit?
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