The correct preparation of the foods before drying is very important. The thinner and smaller the pieces to be dried are cut, the more quickly may the process be completed. Any skins or hulls that would prevent the rapid evaporation of moisture from the food must be removed or broken, and every raw food that is to be dried must first be immersed in salt water made in the proportion of 1 teaspoonful of salt to each quart of water, as this prevents discoloring to a great extent.
Beans for drying should be selected while they are young and tender. Wash them and remove the strings if this is necessary. Cut them in half, lengthwise, with a sharp knife. Drop them into salt water, remove, and spread on the drying trays. Dry by any method selected.
Corn that is to be dried should be at the dough stage; younger corn contains too much water for good results. Prepare the corn by husking it and removing the silk. Then blanch it in boiling water for 5 minutes, after which cut off the grains close to the cob with a sharp knife. Spread these on the drying trays and proceed according to the method desired.
Wash the greens thoroughly. Cut across the leaves several times. Drop them into salt water, remove, and spread on the drying trays. Dry by any method selected.
Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and even onions may be successfully dried. First peel or scrape them. Then slice or cut them into small pieces. Drop them into salt water, remove from the water, and spread them on the drying trays. Dry them by the method selected.
Berries, cherries, and other small fruits may be dried, but since they contain considerable water, the drying is not accomplished very rapidly. Ripe, firm fruit should be selected and cleaned. Cherries should have the seeds, or pits, removed. Such fruits must be dried as quickly as possible, or they will spoil in the process.
In order to dry apples, quinces, and pears, wash, peel, core, and cut the fruit into eighths. Put the peeled fruit into the salt water and keep it there until all are peeled and cut and ready to dry. Then spread the cut pieces in a thin layer on the drying trays and proceed according to the method desired.
Peaches and apricots are most easily dried with the skin on. Wash them thoroughly and, in the case of peaches, rub the fuzz off the skins. Cut the fruit into halves, remove the seeds, or stones, and drop the halves into salt water and keep them there until they are ready to be placed on the drying trays. Dry by any process desired.