Dehydrating is one way to preserve food from the garden. Dehydrating is essentially removing all of the water from the food to make it last much longer than normal. You can purchase a dehydrator at almost any department store and use it to dry almost anything, especially fruits. For some fruits, it may be necessary to have a liner in the trays of the dehydrator. This keeps small fruits from slipping through the holes. Liners also allow you to make fruit leathers. Some dehydrators come with liners, but you can easily make your own.
Things You'll Need
Tear off a piece of parchment or wax paper that is a little larger than the tray of your dehydrator. Place this on the counter.
Center the dehydrator tray on top of the parchment paper. Use the pencil to draw around the outside of the tray and also in the hole in the center of the tray. You may need to use a marker if you are using wax paper.
Cut away the excess parchment paper. Make sure to cut out the paper so that it is one complete sheet. When drying simple pieces of fruit, use the liners when they just fit the size of the tray. To make a fruit leather, cut the liners slightly larger to give you a lip at both the outer edge and the inner circle. This keeps the pureed fruit from leaking out.
Fit the parchment paper into the tray and top with your food.
For smaller fruits you can make tray liners with smaller holes using plastic canvas. Follow the same directions using the plastic canvas instead of parchment. Wash the plastic canvas for reusable tray liners.
If you have a lot of fruit you want to dry, cut out a bunch of these tray liners at a time. This makes quick work for future drying. Store any unused sheets in a plastic zipper bag to keep them clean.
These tray liners also work great when drying herbs.
References and Resources"The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food"; Janet Chadwick; 1995
You Tube: How to Make Dehydrator Tray Liners out of Plastic Canvas Part 1