I’ve been working on increasing my stores of dehydrated fruits lately. I’m always using them as ingredients for scones, cookies, crumbles, granola, and more … and the standard offerings in most grocery stores (apples, dried plums–what they’re calling “prunes” these days–various types of raisins, cranberries, apricots, and a few more) get boring after a while.
I decided I wanted to try dehydrating mandarin oranges, too. That’s something you don’t see offered in most places … even some of the specialty stores … so I decided to give them a try in my own kitchen: two ways
First, I bought a #10 can of what they called “mandarin oranges with broken pieces in heavy syrup.” They also had cans of straight “mandarin oranges” that were priced at (I think) $4.59 … but the “with broken pieces” part saved me close to $1.00/can … so I thought “what the heck?”
Personally, I think it was a good choice. The really “broken” mandarins were few and far between, and the rest of them were maybe slightly crushed … but still whole, so they worked nicely. I laid them out on my dehydrator trays and started them drying. As you can tell, they almost became stained-glass as they dried, so I thought they were pretty, too
Then I also bought fresh mandarin oranges, which I peeled, separated, and put into the dryer straight from there … as suggested by several online websites. My fresh mandarins were larger than the canned version–plus, they were absolutely full of seeds for some strange reason–so I ultimately cut them in half laterally (through the middle, making each cut look like a flower) so they were smaller … but also much easier to get the seeds out of first.
Can you tell the difference between the two?
The ones on the left are the ones that came out of the can. They’re sweet and tart at the same time, chewy and absolutely delicious! The ones on the right are the fresh ones. As you can see, they are lighter in color. They’re also sweet and tart and delicious … but that dried membrane (the white part that surrounds the sweet and tart and delicious part) is papery … to the point of being crunchy. And, honestly, I’m just not as crazy about them as I am about the canned/dried version for that exact same reason. Yes, I know the canned ones have more sugar in them … so that could account for part of it … but–with me–it’s all about the texture of foods, too … and that whole papery thing just doesn’t make my mouth happy
SoooOOooo … I’m probably going to run the fresh version through my food processor, and use the resulting paste for baking, like Mandarin Orange Extract. I think it will make a great paste that will kick cupcakes and cookies up into the atmosphere. Oooo, I know the first thing I’m going to try with it … orange cranberry walnut cookies!
Then I have plans for the others … that involve chocolate