Friday, January 31, 2014

Midwinter Tropics

No, we didn't suddenly get warm.  The snow is still there.  But, happily, it is still pineapple and citrus season, which means that I can find ridiculously low priced, ripe and delicious pineapples at my local ALDI. (I love ALDI.  They have such great pricing on essential items for the pantry, plus they've started carrying more and more organic produce and dairy items.)

If you've never tackled a whole pineapple, it is really easy.  They do sell specific gizmos that make the job "simpler", but I like using my favorite kitchen knife and wooden cutting board.  While they look intimidating, it's a piece of cake to get into a pineapple.

Step 1: Cut off the green top.  The chickens like playing with this.  They nibble at the sweet stuff on the bottom, and crunch a bit on the green bit.

Step 2: Cut about a half-inch off the bottom.  This helps the pineapple stand up straight on the cutting board.

Step 3:  Cut down the side with your knife, slicing off the brown skin.  Your pineapple may end up looking a little hexagonal, but its all good.  The rabbits adore this part and nibble it away to nothing.

Step 4: Cut the pineapple into fourths.  Stand one fourth on end, and slice the pithy core off from the middle.  If you have come across any over-ripe spots, go ahead and chop these off.  They can go in with the chickens, or the rabbits.  Everybody loves a bit of pineapple as a treat!

Now all you need to do is cut it into slices.  I find that for dehydrating purposes, cutting them about 1/4 inch thick lets you get a nice chewy final product.  Otherwise, it goes more crispy--still good, but it winds up crunchy not chewy.  While it isn't necessary, I do put my slices into a bowl of water with a slosh of lemon juice in it.  It helps keep them from browning, if I have a lot of slicing to do, and it does perhaps help the final product stay golden yellow when it is dried.

I love mixing dried pineapple with dried tart cherries and a handful of walnuts, and perhaps a little sweetened flaked coconut.  Its a wonderful tropical snack mix to eat while watching snowflakes drift down.

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