One thing at the top of our homestead to-do list was to plant fruit trees, especially pears. They grow well in our hardiness zone, they have amazing flavor, are quite versatile, and with the right variety they even store well.
My favorite way to preserve pears is to dehydrate them. In mass quantity I slice them into wedges for dehydrating, but sometimes I like to class it up a little. I love using vanilla beans… in fact, I like them so much that I buy them by the box full, and save a lot of money in doing so (affiliate).
Regular vanilla extract has its place, but whenever I have a good opportunity to use vanilla-beans instead, I take it. Pears and vanilla are a natural combination- and in the case of these dehydrated slices, the vanilla bean adds flavor and interest without adding any added sugar, unhealthy oils, preservatives or additives. Using vanilla beans makes them just a little more special.
If you are looking for unique homemade gift ideas- a little baggie of these, tied with a rustic jute bow makes a wonderful birthday, holiday or thank you gift. Dehydrated vanilla pears would also make great favors for a rustic wedding or bridal shower!
Want more vanilla bean recipes?
Honey & Vanilla Bean Roasted Melon Seeds
Vanilla Bean Truffle Covered Walnuts
Vanilla Spray and Dust Bath to Protect your Flock from Gnats
Dehydrated Vanilla-Bean Pear Slices
1 tsp honey
seeds from one vanilla bean
4 Tbs warm water
5-8 medium-sized ripe pears
Trying to give measurements when working with fresh produce is hard. Depending on how thick your pear slices end up, and how much vanilla water you put on each slice, you might end up with not enough vanilla water or some left over.
Follow this order EXACTLY:
1. In a small bowl mix together the honey and vanilla beans seeds.
2. Then add in the water and stir until you have a well mixed honey-vanilla-water.
The honey is there to help break up the clumps of vanilla bean seeds. You can do without it, but you will have to work a little harder at getting the vanilla bean seeds to disperse.
Slice pears thinly, preferably using a mandolin for uniform thickness (affiliate). I find that when dehydrating slices of fruit like this- the thinner the slices, the more “crisp” they turn out. The thicker the slices, the more chewy. Both are good and just fine. I wouldn’t slice them more than 1/4″ thick though.
I don’t bother to core them first, or take the stem off. I like the added rustic touch that this adds. If you want them to be a little “cleaner,” cut the pears in half from top to bottom. Use a melon baller to scoop out the middle seed area of each half, and then slice the pears (affiliate).
Put the pear slices on your dehydrator trays and then use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of the vanilla water to the top side of each pear slice. The vanilla bean seeds will stay at the bottom of the bowl, and that is okay. The wet brush is the vehicle in which you get an thin and even layer of vanilla seeds onto the pear slices. I found that using a “dabbing” motion in addition to a “brushing” motion worked the best.
Dehydrate until… well, until dehydrated. I use an Excalibur Dehydrator, which I just adore. My pear slices took somewhere between nine and twelve hours to dehydrate (affiliate).
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