One of my favorite ways to preserve fruits and vegetables is to thinly slice them and dry them in my dehydrator. Drying is one of the oldest methods for preserving foods. This makes for a nutritious and convenient snack that needs little space for storage. There are two ways in which I dry fruits… I often purée fresh fruit in the blender, spread the purée on a dehydrating sheet and dry the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I then wrap long strands of the dried leather in cellophane and store it in a mason jar. Other times, I simply slice ripe fruit, process it in the dehydrator overnight, condition the fruit and package for a nutritious and high-energy snack. Drying your own fruit at home is far less expensive than purchasing packaged dried fruits and can insure that there are no extra preservatives added to the fruit.
Some fruits suitable for drying include apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, and berries. To process, carefully follow the directions that accompany your dehydrator or use a recipe from a reputable source. These recipes have been tested to reduce any food safety issues and boost nutritional impact. If you are interested in making your own jams or jellies, pickles, salsa, fruit leather or dried fruit, here are a few sites that will provide you with an abundance of carefully tested recipes.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation – http://nchfp.uga.edu
Drying Fruits and Vegetables Penn State Extension – http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods/drying-vegetables
Ohio State Extension Food Preservation – http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation
I sent another care package to campus this week. Inside, I carefully tucked some dried fruit, a couple of containers of soup, a bag of granola, and a few homemade Apricot and Oatmeal Fruit Bars.
While I’ve had this recipe for a while, I have never really made this particular bar before. It’s adapted from the original that is printed on the inside of the Solo fruit filling label. When I recently stumbled across the recipe in my kitchen file, I realized that it was a much simpler version as compared to my traditional fruit bar recipe that I make with my homemade Concord Grape Jam.
Talking with my daughter this week, she thanked me for the package and disclosed that she had shared the bars with two of her good friends. I was given a big “thumbs up” as they both thought the bars were delicious. I was thrilled to hear that one of M’s friends requested the recipe and that’s exactly why I am posting it today. I originally started this blog to be used to share cherished recipes with family and friends and this is the perfect way to do just that.
Apricot and Oatmeal Fruit Bars
1 package yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (12 oz) can Solo Cake & Pastry Filling, apricot or your favorite flavor
Topping: 2 tablespoons cinnamon and brown sugar instant oatmeal mix.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9″ pan. Combine cake mix, and oats. Add margarine and egg. Mix until moist and crumbly. With damp fingers, evenly press half of the mixture into the baking pan. Carefully top this layer with the apricot filling; spreading over entire surface. Finally, top with remaining oat mixture. Sprinkle with instant oatmeal topping. Bake 22-26 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.