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If pears are ripening in your garden, or you have acquired several kilograms of these tasty and healthy fruits on occasion, you can seriously think about harvesting them for the winter.
Of course, you can just buy ready-made dried fruits. But in this case, their quality is not guaranteed.
Producers, unfortunately, do not always use conditioned fruit; damaged and even dirty fruits are often found in the total mass.
And to give them a marketable appearance, additional (and not always healthy) processing is performed, and even tinted.
One of the oldest proven ways to prepare winter fruit supplies is by drying. This is a simple matter, quite accessible to everyone.
You can dry pears outdoors in the sun, in a gas or electric oven, an electric dryer and even in a microwave oven.
At the same time, in order to obtain a high-quality result, it is necessary to carry out all the stages of drying correctly.
The most suitable drying pears are firm and slightly unripe. Their flesh should be firm, not very juicy; it is good if there are "stony cells" in it, ie. solid blotches.
It is better if there are few seeds in the pear, and the seed chamber itself takes up little space. It is not recommended to dry fruits that are viscous in taste, you will not like their taste.
Preferred are sweet summer or early autumn varieties with medium-sized fruits. Although, to obtain a sweet drying process, sugar may be added during its preparation.
Pear varieties such as “Lyubimitsa Klappa”, “Limonka”, “Forest Beauty”, “Victoria”, “Zaporozhskaya”, “Ilyinka”, “Bergamot”, “Aromatnaya” are very suitable for preparing dried fruits.
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Pretreating pears before drying
If you decide to dry pears, try to do it without shelving. Harvested pears should not be stored for more than two days, because they gradually soften and become unsuitable for drying.
The process of preparing pears for drying is the same, regardless of the chosen drying method (open air, oven, electric oven with airfryer, etc.).
First, boil water in a saucepan or basin. If the pears are unsweetened, add some sugar to the water.
Sort the fruits according to the degree of ripeness, remove the damaged areas, rinse them with running water.
Rotten fruits, frozen or damaged by diseases or pests, are not suitable for drying, so reject them resolutely.
Dip clean and dried fruits in boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on whether they are ripe or green, but only until they are soft.
Let the pears cool completely. Then cut them into slices and place them on the container in which they will be dried.
Large pears and wild game have their own nuances in cooking
Large-sized fruits are usually cut into slices of about 1 cm in thickness, medium-sized ones are cut in half or into four parts. To prevent them from darkening in the open air, they are immersed in a 1% solution of citric or tartaric acid. The slices are blanched in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.
The game is collected when it falls from the trees, put in a box or bucket and waited for the fruits to darken and their skin turns brown. In this case, the pears become sweeter and more aromatic, and some of their astringency and bitterness disappears.
The skins of pears are usually not peeled (except for a particularly hard cover) and the core is not removed. These pears are believed to have a more interesting flavor. But if you plan to use the fruits as a cosmetic, like a scrub or mask for the face and body, they should be sure to peel and seed them.
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Natural drying of pears
A baking sheet, a tray with pear wedges or a sieve should be placed in a quiet, windless place, well lit by the sun, away from roads and dust.
Try to tilt the bowl of pears so that they can be illuminated for as long as possible. A good way out for residents of the private sector is the roofs of houses.
Pears should be dried in the sun within two days. At night, the "semi-finished product" is removed into the house, after having covered it with plastic wrap.
After two days, the fruits are transferred to the shade and dried for another 2-3 days. To dry evenly, pears should be turned over periodically.
Some owners press half-dried pear slices into a thin layer, squeezing them with two boards. Then strung on a thread and dried in this form.
In order for the dried product to have a good color and better storage, sometimes a solution of sulfurous acid or fumigation with sulfur dioxide is used during the drying process. But this requires special rooms and safety precautions, because you cannot inhale this gas.
How to dry pears in the oven
Because the weather does not always allow drying fruits in the fresh air, sunlight can be successfully replaced with units available in every modern kitchen, be it an oven, electric dryer or microwave oven.
In the oven, pears are dried on a baking sheet, in one layer, first at a temperature of 55-60 degrees.
This avoids cracking of the slices and peeling of the peel. After two hours, the temperature is brought to 80 degrees.
Then, when the fruit begins to shrink in volume, the temperature is again lowered to 55. This is the final drying temperature.
The time of this procedure depends on the size of the starting material: it takes 18-24 hours to dry whole pears, and the slices are ready in 12-16 hours.
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How to dry pears in an electric dryer and microwave
In an electric dryer, which consists of several grate layers, it is possible to dry a significant portion of pears overnight.
In this case, the fruits or pieces do not even need to be turned over, everything is provided for by the technology: the trays are evenly blown with warm air.
Drying pears in the microwave is one of the quickest ways to cook them. But not approved by everyone. This process takes no more than two to three minutes per serving.
The main thing here is to prevent the fruits from overdrying or even turning them into unsuitable coals. Place the washed pears, cut into slices or cubes, without a core, on a plate previously covered with a piece of cotton or linen.
Program the microwave for 2.5 minutes and 200 watts. If you find that the pears have not dried up during this time, put them in the microwave for another half a minute.
Properly dried fruit does not break when bent or squeezed; they are soft and elastic; when pressed with a finger, they spring. Pears are tough only in one case: if you dried completely unripe fruits or carrion.
Until the next harvest ...
You can store dried fruits in a glass or wooden container tightly tamped and closed, or you can pour it into a linen bag and put it in a dry cabinet. Of course, you should not forget about winter supplies: they can get damp, moldy or even rot.
There is also the danger of bugs or fruit moth larvae that can spoil the tasty treat.
To prevent this from happening, at least once a month inspect the drying, it will not be superfluous to shake it out on a baking sheet someday and dry it again in the oven at a temperature of 50 degrees.
When stored for a long time, pears dry and harden. Before using, put them in a heated oven saturated with steam (you can put a container with water) or hold them on a steam bath for a while. The dried fruit will steam and become soft and tasty again.
For cosmetic purposes, dried fruits are ground in a coffee grinder and stored in a dry, dark place. Pear "powder" with sugar and cinnamon is used to add to porridge or pie fillings.
You can dry pears in different ways, the main thing is to make up your mind and choose the most acceptable way for yourself. And if you do it, adhering to the above tips, the result will be worth the effort. Your winter table will be much richer, tastier and healthier, and your body will survive the harsh time much easier.