I’m still using my car as a dehydrator. It works so very well that it is just a shame to do otherwise, as we are having nothing but (awfully hot) sun sun sun!
I’ve sun-dried several pints of cherry and grape tomatoes on my dashboard, and yesterday I made fruit leather. It isn’t the most beautiful thing, but it sure is good, and it makes a great lunch box treat or portable snack. I used peaches, but I think any stone fruit would work nicely, and I hope you’ll experiment with combinations on your own.
I moved my “cooking area” from the dashboard (too slanted) to the shelf over the trunk of my hatchback (nice and flat). That’s the only thing I changed as far as the car goes. All you need is a sunny day, a blender, some ripe fruit… overall its pretty easy!
The end product, after only one day in the car, is chewy, soft but not sticky, flexible but not fragile, and not overly leathery.
One caveat, though, you really do need parchment paper. I tried a test with wax paper and it was an abysmal failure. The paper completely melded with the fruit leather. I don’t think that using plastic wrap in that heat would be a good idea either, and I’m pretty sure that foil would stick like the wax paper did. But parchment paper does the trick.
Here’s what I did:
One (or Two) Day Fruit Leather
3 lb ripe peaches
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
a handful of fresh lemon basil leaves
1 tsp cinnamon or ras al hanout
pinch of salt
2 T sugar (or to taste)
Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until completely puréed. Pour the purée onto parchment paper housed on cookie sheets and spread it out to about 1/4 inch or less of thickness. Thinner is better than thicker – it will dry more quickly. You should be almost able to see the parchment through the purée. Place the cookie sheets in the car in full sun. Barely crack one window for ventilation. Check for “doneness” after 8 sun-filled hours.
I peeled mine off the parchment, flipped it over and gave it about an hour more in the sun on the second side. The final product is translucent, slightly lacy, a bit brownish (blueberries), chewy, flexible, and should keep a month or more in the fridge (no way will it last that long around here!).
I’m thinking that this counts as a “raw” food as it is dehydrated but not actually cooked. If I’m misunderstanding the concept I hope someone out there will correct me!
There are more traditional ways of drying fruit leathers, and I am not recommending that you use your car as a dehydrator. It works for me, though, and now my car smells like peach pie! Mmmm… delicious!!