Several years ago my sister-in-law gave me some plums from her mom's trees and I made a bunch of plum butter. I was going to give it away for Christmas, but it just didn't make it that long, it was so good, we ate it all before Christmas! Recently, my older daughter and her husband moved into a rural rental that has several Spanish Plum trees, along with a few apple and pear trees. So with visions of plum butter dancing in my head, I merrily picked a few pounds of plums and brought them home to process.
Problem was I was still working at my temp job for the last three days of the project so I didn't get to them for four days. Although they seemed very ripe when we were picking them, most of them kept fine in the fridge for that time. Even so, I didn't want to waste them--I wanted to get them processed--so I decided it would be less effort to dry them instead of can them. I didn't want to drag out my canner and all the equipment. Hopefully, I can get back to my daughter's place in time to pick more plums for plum butter.
In the meantime, since these were small plums, all I had to do was wash them, cut them in two, pit them, then put in the dehydrator skin side down for 12-15 hours. The dehydrator is making my house smell lovely!
A few years ago I got my husband an Excalibur food dehydrator along with Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook so he could make his own jerky. Hasn't happened yet but probably will soon as he came home yesterday ranting about beef jerky going up to $8.00 a small bag. I've used the dehydrator several times, and I have to say it's worth it to spend a little extra money on a dehydrator to get the square layout, fan, temp control, and high temp.
At any rate, I don't know if dehydrating the plums into prunes was actually any easier or not, because it took at least 45 minutes to get them all pitted. But once that was done, they went straight into the dehydrator and now sit there being turned into prunes.
Of course after the fact, I looked on Amazon.com to see if there is such a thing as a plum pitter, and there is. If the prunes turn out good, I would like to get a pitter, but after watching a video and reading reviews on Amazon.com, I have not found one that is satisfactory yet. If anyone can point me in the right direction for that, I'd be grateful.
Since I already had the dehydrator out, I decided to take a left over chicken carcass and get the remaining meat off of it to dehydrate for my doggies. I had been giving them commercial chicken jerky treats, but learned about dogs getting sick and even dying from chicken jerky treats made in China. Needless to say I was quite concerned for my dogs for several days after I quit feeding the commercial jerky to them, but all seem to be okay. Dodged another bullet on that one!
All I did was make sure the chicken pieces were no larger than a quarter inch thick. Since the chicken has already been cooked, and the dehydration will further eliminate or greatly reduce any microorganisms, I processed it at the same temperature as my plums, 135 degrees. If you are doing this for human consumption, I would suggest using 145 degrees minimum. Food science researchers maintain that microorganisms are effectively killed when meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or 167 degrees F. for 20 minutes or 200 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Mary Bell has more on how to dehydrate meat safely in the book you see below.