A large box arrived at our house last week, sent by my mother. It contained a large spaceship-resembling appliance: a food dehydrator. The American Harvest Snackmaster 2400, to be exact.
The impetus for the ownership transition of the Snackmaster is the fruit tree in my backyard, which is currently producing more plums than anyone can eat or give away in a few short weeks.
A Recipes & Instructions booklet was included with the Snackmaster. It was written by "dehydration expert" Deanna DeLong (author of How to Dry Foods, published in 1979). The booklet is full of gem phrases, such as: Fruit roll-ups, also known as fruit leathers, are a favorite snack for young and old alike, as well as interesting advice, like: After fruits have been prepared for drying, garnish with spices, Jell-O powders or coconut to give fruits a snappy flavor. Jell-O powder? Hmmm.
From the notes in the fruit drying guidelines section, it appears the Snackmaster got a lot of use in the early 90's. That was when I was growing up and we had two Italian Prune trees and a gigantic Macintosh Apple tree. There are notes on drying times for plums dated September 1994.
Sixteen years later and a couple of states down the coast, the Snackmaster is drying plums again. I've started experimenting with some other fruits as well: grapefruit (left the peel on and sliced it very thin; next time I'll try sprinkling some salt and sugar on it before it dries for some flavorful fruit chips) and I learned that dried cantaloupe is as sweet as candy. I have a feeling that I'll be having some fun with this new toy!
Here is the pictorial progression from plums to prunes:
One year ago: polenta stacks