Sun drying process and its benefits
The process of preserving food is something that is familiar to mankind since the days of yore. Several folklores recount the methods of preserving foods in one way or another in accordance with the local and cultural traditions. The idea was to prevent food from spoiling and make it last longer while keeping it fit for consumption.
Drying as a method of preservation has numerous advantages. Food becomes lightweight and easy to carry due to the reduced water content in it. Dried foods are tasty, nutritious, easy-to-prepare, easy-to-store and use. The energy input is less than what is needed to freeze or can, and the storage space is minimal as compared to that needed for canning jars and freeze containers. The nutritional value of food is only minimally affected by drying.
Making fruit candies by sun drying process:
1. Mango candy
- Firstly, in the blender take 2 cups mango and 2 tbsp sugar.
- Blend to smooth paste without adding any water.
- Transfer the mango puree to the kadai and begin to cook. Stir continuously and cook on medium flame until it thickens well.
- Now add ¼ tsp cardamom powder and mix well. Further, brush ½ tsp ghee on a steel plate.
- Transfer the puree onto the plate and spread uniformly. Let it sun dry for 2 days or a week until it turns translucent.
- Scrape the sides using the knife. Peel gently without damaging the aam papad.
- Finally, cut into the desired shape and roll aam papad.
2. Amla candy
- Steam the gooseberries in a steamer for 15 minutes or cook in a pressure cooker until 1 whistle.
- Let the gooseberries cool and separate into flakes.
- Mix the gooseberry flakes with sugar and black salt in a deep bowl.
- Cover the bowl and keep outside in the shade for 1-2 days. Turn with a dry spoon 2-3 times a day.
- Drain the excess sugar from the amla and arrange them on a baking sheet on a tray.
- Spread the amla flakes on a plate lined with baking paper.
- Allow to dry for a further 2-3 days.
- Optionally toss them in powdered sugar once they have dried, this allows any extra moisture to be absorbed by the sugar.
3. Orange candy
- Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it aside.
- Add 4 cups (960 ml) of the water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the orange slices. Boil for 2 minutes. Transfer the orange slices to the bowl of ice water and discard the water.
- In the same saucepan, add the remaining 4 cups (960 ml) of water and the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the orange slices. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until they are slightly translucent. Gently swirl the oranges every 15 minutes to make sure they are evenly coated with the sugar water.
- Transfer the slices to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. Let them sit for up to 24 hours or until dry.
- Dip the candied orange slices in granulated sugar, if desired. Use immediately or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
4. Orange peel candy
- Slice both ends of the citrus fruits. Cut the peel on each into 4 or more vertical segments, depending on the size of the fruit. Peel off each segment of rind. Remove the white pith as it is bitter. Slice the peels into 1/4-inch-wide strips
- Boil the peels in a pot of water for 15 minutes. Drain the peels in a colander, rinse and then drain again. Discard the water from the pot.
- Repeat this process one or two more times to reduce the bitter flavor.
- Add the 1 cup of fresh water and the sugar to the pot and bring it to a boil. Boil it for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the citrus peels, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peels become translucent and the syrup becomes lightly syrupy. Use a slotted spoon to remove a few of the peels at a time and let the excess syrup drip off for a few seconds. Place the hot, wet peels in a bowl of sugar or a ziplock bag with sugar in it and toss/shake to coat.
- Spread the candied citrus peels out on a wire rack to cool and dry completely, 1-2 days.
- Stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. In this way the candied citrus peel will keep for at least a month.
Article written by Apurva Singh