In this episode, Kathy discusses how to dry pears and make delicious dried pears.
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Find the complete recipe for Drying Pears
In this episode you'll learn:
- How and when to pick pears
- The ideal thickness to slice pears for dried pears
- Drying pears in a dehydrator
- Drying pears in an oven
- Flavorings to add to dried pears
- Conditioning dried pears
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Hi everyone. And welcome back to the Pantry. Today, we are talking about pears - dried pears, specifically.
So when pears start to become ripe, we love to eat pears. I can a lot of pears and I use them in a few different recipes. One of our favorite ways to preserve pears is by drying them. They make a delicious, healthy snack.
They're easy to do, and they take up almost no space. They are perfect for packing into lunch boxes, or we often will just set a little jar out on our counter and the kids will come by and just grab out handfuls and nibble on them.
They're really a great treat.
The first thing you have to know about drying pears though, is how and when to pick pears.
Pears are kind of a funny fruit because you can't just go out and feel the pair or look at it and determine if it's ready to be picked. Instead, you're actually going to gently grab onto the pear. Pears hang down from the trees. So grab onto it from the bottom and tilt it so that the bottom goes upward. So you're just kind of almost inverting that.
If the pear snaps off of the branch, they are ready to be picked. If it still clings on to that branch, leave them for a few more days or a few more weeks and test it again. Now, the pears are not ideal for eating at this stage, but you do want to pick them off at this stage. If you leave them on the tree until they're fully, perfectly ripe a lot of times they start to fall off the tree and they become bruised.
And so you want to get them off the tree before that happens. Bring them in the house and they'll continue to ripen and then they'll be perfect for you to eat or use in cooking or to can. For drying the pears, I like to use them actually, as soon as I get them off the tree in that slightly under ripened stage, they're a little bit green.
They're pretty firm. They just make a perfect dried pear. So I bring them in the house. I wash them up and then I slice them and put them on the dehydrator.
When I slice them, I like them about a quarter of an inch thick. You can go thinner if you'd prefer anywhere from an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch will be perfect.
I layer them on my dehydrator tray and then turn the dehydrator on. So really that's it. I guess there are a few details.
I don't worry about my pairs turning dark. It just doesn't bother me at all. I don't put any sort of anything that's going to prevent them from turning dark. If you prefer, you can simply put them through a lemon water bath. Soak them in some lemon water or use something like fruit fresh, or any sort of item that's going to help prevent that coloring.
So you can certainly do that step first, if you prefer. When I put my pears on the dehydrated trays, I just fill them completely full without them overlapping at all. I turn my dehydrate about 135 degrees Fahrenheit anywhere from 130 to 140 is ideal, and it is going to take anywhere from eight to 10 hours.
Now, if you have a thicker pear, it's gonna take longer. Thinner pears of course are gonna go a little bit quicker. So you'll check these throughout the drying to see how they are processing. And it's also going to depend on how dry you like them. I prefer my pears just a little bit chewy and softer, but not like moist, but just that they have some chewiness to them.
If you leave them on the dehydrated a bit longer, they will dry up further and almost become a little bit crispier. If you really want a crisp pair, you slice them very thin and then put them on the dehydrator. I'm not sure that they're going to go as crisp as like a potato chip, but you'll get them crispier than the softer variety.
This is really about meeting your own individual preferences. So decide how you like them. Test them along the way and then pull them off when you feel like they're ready. Once they're done, you're going to pull off the, dried pears and you're going to do, what's called conditioning your pears. This will happen with any dried fruit that you do.
Put them into a large plastic bag, or a large glass jar, and you're going to let them condition for about a week. You'll notice that some of your pears are drier than others. And some of them feel they're just not, they feel just more moist, but not necessarily have moisture on them.
So what happens is when you're putting them into the bag or the jar, some of the dryer ones are getting some of the moisture from the moister ones, and then they're kind of evening. Every day, you just want to gently shake or stir the contents in there and take a look at it. If you're using a jar and there's moisture that accumulates on the jar at all, you have not dried your pairs long enough.
So pop them back on the dehydrator and let them dry for a few more hours. After this is all done, then you can store your pears and you can put them into a zip top bag and you can store them in the freezer, which will last the entire year. You can put them in large jars or you can use vacuum seal bags, which will also help prevent them from spoil.
The dried pears can be used all year long. Now, if you don't have a dehydrator, you can also do these in the oven. You'll have to keep a little bit closer eye on it if you're doing it in the oven. So what you'll do is take large cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper and lay your pears on the parchment paper on the cookie sheets, in a single layer and put those into a 225 degree Fahrenheit oven.
So you can already tell that the temperature is a lot higher than what we're using on our dehydrate. So the time is gonna be a lot less. You're going to plan on anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours.
Again, you're going to have to keep an eye on them, check on them and determine once they're done and pull. The time varies so much, whether you're using the, the dehydrate or the oven, it varies on so many different factors. First, how ripe are your pearss? How thick did you cut your pears? What's the humidity level outside, like, so with the higher humidity level, your pears are going to take a little bit longer to dry.
And then also how many pears have you put in your dehydrate or in your oven? So the more that you have on your dehydrate and I tend to stack up as many pears as I have and as many trays as I have, and I just keep stacking them up there. And so that the more pears I have the longer it will take when I have a lot of trays on my dehydrate, sometimes what I will do part way through is rotate those trays around so that the ones on the top go down to the bottom and just mix them around a little.
There are a couple of ideas for different variations on your dried pears. When you first add them to, to the dehydrator, you can sprinkle the pears lightly with a cinnamon sugar mixture or a dried ginger and sugar mixture, or just whatever flavors you feel like you want to enhance those pears. My favorite way is just to eat them dried, but there's nothing wrong with a little variety.
Another thing to note is sometimes when I am drying a lot of items, I will actually set my dehydrator outside on a covered porch. The fan of the dehydrator sometimes can get a little bit loud and I like to get that out of my actual kitchen. And so I just remove that and put it out there. Again, depending on your outside temperature that may affect your drying times.
And then the last thing to note is if I, for some reason, cannot continue the process of drying pears. So let's say I started in the morning. and it's evening. And I know that I only have two to four hours more of drying time, but I am ready for bed and I'm not gonna be able to stay up to check on those pears.
I will just turn off my dehydrator and in the morning, come back and turn it back on again, where I can monitor the pears. Now it does disrupt the drying process and it takes a little while for that dehydrator to come back to temperature and then dry everything back up. So it does add some time to it.
But it offers you that little bit of flexibility when you just can't wait till the end of the drying time. For whatever reason, drying pears is such a great way to preserve pears. And as I mentioned before, they really make a delicious, healthy snack. I hope that you enjoy them. I'll see you next time in the pantry.
Thanks for listening and be sure to tune in again next week for more episodes of Preserving the Pantry.
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