Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/650

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Drying Fruits and Vegetables

A simple method of drying your surplus sup ply of fruits and vegetables for future use

��THE advantages of drying vegetables are not so apparent for the farm home as they are for the town and city household, which has no root cellar or other place in which to store fresh vegeta- bles. For the farmer's wife the new meth- ods of canning probably will be better than sun drying, which requires a somewhat longer time. But quicker methods of dry- ing are now in use, and the dried product holds an advantage in that it usually requires fewer jars, cans or other containers than do canned fruits or vege- tables; also dried ma- terial can be stored in receptacles which can- not be used for canning. Then, too, canned fruit and vegetables freeze and cannot be shipped in absolute safety con- veniently in winter.

With a simple and in- expensive equipment all housewives can save quantities of food which are too small con- veniently to can. A few sweet potatoes or apples or peas or even a single turnip can be dried and saved. Even when very small quanti- ties are dried at a time, a quantity suf- ficient for a meal will soon be secured. Small mixed lots of dried vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and onions, can be packed together and used for soups and stews. Three principal ways are applicable for the home preparation of dried fruits and vegetables; namely, sun drying, drying by artificial heat, and drying by air blast. These, of course, may be combined. In general, most fruits or vegetables, to be dried quickly, must be shredded or cut into slices, because many are too large to dry quickly or are covered with a skin, the pur-

��pose of which is to prevent drying out. When freshly cut fruits or vegetables are to be dried by means of artificial heat, they should be exposed first to gentle heat and later to the higher temperatures. If the air applied at the outset is of too high a tem- perature, the cut surfaces of the sliced fruits or vegetables become hard, or scorched, covering the juicy interior so that it will not dry out. Generally it is not desirable that the air temperature in drying should go above 140 deg. or 150 deg. F., and it is better to keep it well below this point. Insects and insect eggs are killed by exposure to heat of this temperature. It is important to know the degree of heat in the dryer, and this cannot be determined very ac- curately except by using a thermome- ter. Inexpensive oven thermometers can be found on the market, or an ordi- nary chemical ther- mometer can be sus- pended in the dryer. If a thermometer is not used, the great- est care should be given to the regula- tion of heat. The temperature in the dryer rises rather quickly and the product may scorch unless close attention is given. The reason sun drying is popularly believed to give fruits and vegetables a sweeter flavor is probably because in the sun they are never scorched, whereas in the oven or over a stove, scorching is a common occurrence.

A cheap and very satisfactory dryer for use over the kitchen stove is one that was worked out by the Department of Agri- culture at Washington. Any handy boy or

���A frame made of laths or strips of wood to hold trays of galvanized wire mesh and swung over the range with a crane

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