Excalibur 4900 Dehydrator

I’ve thought about this in previous years, but not taken the plunge until now. We always have an excess of allotment produce which we find difficult to store. We fill the freezers and make jam and pickles, but we don’t bottle or can our produce, and we don’t dehydrate. It was the crates of apples that made my mind up. They’ll keep until Christmas, but not much beyond that.

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Not only can you dry apple slices, but you can also make “fruit leathers”, which I’m betting are going to go down a storm with the grandchildren.

It seems to be accepted that Excalibur make the best dehydrators, but they’ve always been tremendously expensive. But they’ve just launched a new range of more colourful machines with electronic controls, so the old black boxes with knobs and switches are being run out at rather more sensible prices. So I snaffled one. The only disadvantage is that they are BIG. Not only wide and tall, but deep enough to need the full depth of a standard countertop.

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But my goodness are they effective! Just as an experiment we put in some apple, orange, lemon, banana, kiwi fruit, and candied peel. Apple and banana are right first time.

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The citrus needed a bit more drying.

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But the big success was the peel (recipe below). It was meant for fruit bread and Christmas baking, but I fear that we’ll eat it like sweeties before we get a chance to cook with it!

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Fruit leathers next, and I’ll report back.

Candied Peel Recipe

1. Slice the top and bottom from the citrus, then score and peel the skin off in quarters.
2. Remove excess pith, although leaving a good layer, and slice into strips.
3. In a saucepan. cover the peel with cold water, bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Strain and repeat. This removes the bitterness from the pith.
4. Make a sugar syrup with 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. I used 600g sugar, 300g water.
5. Put the peels into the syrup, and simmer for about half an hour. Remove with slotted spoon to drying rack.
6. Dry at 135F for 7 hours. Peels will still be a little bit soft, ideal for cooking. You could dry more to get a “brittle” texture. Dip peels in caster sugar if desired (we don’t).

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