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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making Banana Chips by Dehydrating Bananas

Yeah, I've got the dehydrator going again.  I came into a bunch of bananas that I knew my kids wouldn't eat before they went all over-ripe and brown, so I thought I'd get ahead of the game and dehydrate some into banana chips. To dehydrate bananas, you want ripe bananas.  They're not as good if they're green and the more ripe they are the sweeter your dry bananas are, so I like to dry them at the "just right" stage.

When you dehydrate bananas, there's actually a couple of ways to prep them.  You can slice them into rounds or split them long ways into thirds and have "sticks" of whatever length they end up.  I had a friend who liked hers the latter way, so I tried it once.  A banana naturally splits into three sections if you start at one end and kind of work it apart by pushing at the center of the banana with your finger.  Does that make sense?  I'd show you a picture, but that's not how I did mine this time.  Each third comes apart looking kind of triangular and long.  If you dry your bananas this way, they take longer to dry and result in a chewier end product.  Not bad if that's what you're after, but this time I wanted little rounds.  So I got out my handy "Butter Cutter".

What?  You don't have a butter cutter?  You've never even heard of one?  Yeah, you're perfectly normal then.  I got this from my fabulous mother for my birthday last year (along with some other random kitchen gadgets you've never heard of) after she found it in the discarded gear from a school kitchen and apparently thought of me.  Strange but true.  You only wish you got such amazing gifts from your mom.  I thought I might never find a use for it other than slicing globs of play dough, but when I needed uniformly sliced bananas, voila, the Butter Cutter to the rescue.

If you don't have a butter cutter, you can use your egg slicer or even just a plain old knife.  My egg slicer would slice a bit thinner than the butter cutter which is fine.  The idea behind getting uniform slices is that they will all dry at the same rate so you won't have some crispy and some still gooey in the middle.  It's nice, but not totally necessary.

After slicing the bananas, I put them in a solution of water and Fruit Fresh.  About 1 TB fruit fresh to approximately 1 quart of water.  Okay, I didn't measure the water, I'm just guessing it was about a quart.

This is to keep the color from going brown in the end product.  You could also soak them in lemon juice or pineapple juice--the acidity is what keeps them from looking brown.

Then I loaded them on the trays.  It's best if they're not touching so they don't end up all stuck together in one big banana chip mass at the end.

I dried them about 12 hours.  They are crispy on the edges, but still chewy.  Not hard as a rock.

I only filled two trays with the bananas I had.  I don't expect these to last.  I won't be storing them--I'm putting them in a jar that is accessible and am just going to let them get eaten.  If you're planning to store long term, dry them a little harder just to be safe.

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