Hello Everyone and Happy 2015! This is an exciting post for me, since it is my very first one. Even though we’ve had some shiitake logs started for almost a year now, and some garlic in the ground, we’re just getting the website up and running. I’ll be posting as much as possible in the next few months , but for now I’d like to just jump in. I hope you all enjoy it.
A few months ago, I received a dehydrator as a present, and I have been experimenting with drying mangoes on and off since then. I do enjoy a variety of dried fruits, but mangoes are at the top of my list. They are one of my favorite snacks, and good in trail mix, cut up in yogurt, in cereal or granola or even just by themselves.
For my first experimental attempt, I cut up the mangoes and put them on the tray just as they were. If you have not cut up a mango before, I will explain that the fruit sticks stubbornly to the seed, which is much wider on one side than the other. This means that even with the most careful cutting, my “slices” of mango were of many different sizes, anywhere from maybe 1/4 inch thick to almost an inch. When I ran the dehydrator, the smaller pieces dried much faster than others, turning almost crunchy, and the largest pieces dried out with pockets of air on the inside, which made them puffy and soft. They weren’t bad, but it was definitely a strange texture, and not the most pleasant.
After reading some more about this, I found that it was recommended to soak the cut fruit in simple syrup (a one to one ratio of sugar dissolved into water). This allowed the fruit to crystallize as it dried, and added a much stronger flavor and a more solid texture. As the water evaporated, the sugars remained behind, filling the air pockets which had seemed a little odd the first time. I also experimented with different sizes and thicknesses of mango slices, and found that thin, wide slices were far and away the best. This is hard to do with just a knife, though, and I still had some problems getting consistently sized slices.
At Christmas, though, a wonderful thing happened, and Santa brought me a mandoline. A mandoline is a kitchen tool used to slice food thinly and evenly, usually fruits and vegetables. It is a great way to make potato chips, or french fries, which I think may be a post in the near future. (photo of mandoline)
Using the mandoline, I sliced my mangoes, soaked them overnight and then laid them out on the dehydrator trays. The mangoes will be pretty syrupy, so it is best to do this step over the sink or a cutting board, since the syrup will drip. I would also suggest straining the syrup afterwards and then saving it to use to sweeten and flavor iced teas or maybe a fun cocktail.
i ran my dehydrator at 135 for about 6-7 hours. It usually takes longer, but with these thinner slices, they were done and ready to go, I checked on them every hour or so just to get a feel for it throughout the day. Once they are done, I peeled them off of the trays, let them cool on a plate or rack and then make sure they get stored in an airtight container.
After many experiments, this one is definitely the best, so enjoy!
4 ripe mangoes
2 cups sugar
2 cups warm water
Peel the mangoes. You will notice that the mangoes are not round. The seed inside the mango run almost from the top to the bottom, and is flattened out in the middle of the fruit. You will want to slice parallel to the wide side of the seed. It is usually very noticeable which side to slice in order to get the most fruit. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, slice the mangoes into large flat rounds about 1/8 inch thick. Cut as close as possible to the seed. You will notice when you are getting close, as it will become more and more difficult to cut. You can trim excess fruit from the other sides of the seed, and either add that to your slices or save it to eat fresh.
Lay the mango slices in a plastic or glass container. Mix 2 cups warm water with 2 cups sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture over the mangoes until they are completely covered. I like to gently move the mango around to make sure that all the slices get access to the simple syrup. Sometimes they tend to stick together. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
As a side note, I always save the mango peel and seeds for my chickens. It is one of their favorites.
Prepare your dehydrator as necessary. Lay out the slices of mango on the dehydrator trays, leaving just enough room that they are not touching. Check your own dehydrator for different directions, but mine usually takes about 7 hours at 135 F. I try to check on them every two hours, and much more frequently the closer they get to being finished. When they are done, they should be completely dry to the touch, but still flexible. They will harden a little more as they cool. Peel them from the dehydrator trays and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.