For Christmas I gave Drew a food dehydrator. One of his favorite snacks is beef jerky, and he’s been talking about making it at home for a long time. I also thought it would be useful for preserving produce and herbs. (Go ahead – make the joke that this was really a gift for myself, I’ve already heard it!)
Anyway, I was really psyched to try this thing out, but didn’t want to go too crazy for my maiden voyage into the world of dehydrated foods. I had a bunch of bananas that were on the brink, so I thought banana chips were the perfect choice.
Making them could not be easier. Basically, it went like this:
1) Cut the banana into thin slices.
2) Give the slices a quick run through some lemon juice. You can add honey, cinnamon, or jazz it up in some other way but I opted to keep it simple. While this step is technically optional, it helps prevent the banana slices from getting too brown.
3) Place the slices on one of the dehydrator trays, leaving plenty of room for airflow. Three bananas filled almost two trays (I also threw a little cantaloupe on there just for giggles.)
4) Turn the machine on and wait. And wait some more. And wait a little more. And just when you think they might be done — no — wait a few more minutes. All told I think it took about 6 hours of drying.
And that is really all there is to it! When the bananas felt done, I carefully took them off the tray and stored them in a canning jar. For long-term storage you want something airtight, and you want to store them in a dark, dry place. But I knew these would not last that long.
I don’t normally buy banana chips, but 2/3rds of my kids now love them. Jake and Noah both asked to take some for snack at school so I guess I will be making them more often. Honestly, it’s a great alternative to banana bread when those bananas are just a little too soft to eat. The dried cantaloupe was delicious, too!
I’m excited to experiment more: apple slices, zucchini chips, pears, watermelon, and of course herbs once the summer rolls around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try making my own herbal tea mixes! So many possibilities!