Photo by Sarah Shatz
With April showers giving way to May flowers, who wants to spend a sunny afternoon cooped up in the kitchen? Low temperatures in the form of ambient oven heat can work magic in an unsupervised space, leaving you free to tackle other spring adventures.
The dry heat of a slow oven (around 200 degrees F) gradually evaporates a food’s water content, which serves two distinct culinary purposes: changing texture and concentrating flavor. Dried foods also have a longer shelf life, as moisture in food is often what sends it into the realm of spoilage. Be sure to carefully seal the following slow-baked goods to keep moisture at bay.
Low oven temperatures can be used to morph the texture of fresh fruits and vegetables from soft and juicy to crisp or chewy.
These dehydrated treats have been relieved of most of their moisture content, but enough remains to yield a chewy, flexible product.
Extra time in a low oven dries these preparations even further, creating a snappy crunch.
As the moisture content is reduced, natural sugars and inherent or introduced flavors are condensed and heightened. Here are two of our favorite examples, which can be applied to other produce and nuts, respectively.
Crispy Spice-Brined Pecans
A baked meringue disk (photo by Sarah Shatz)
Chocolate Swirl Meringue Cookies
Cocoa Pear Crisps [FOOD52] (pictured at top)
Pistachio Meringue Stack with Rose Cream and Stawberries [FOOD52]
Crispy Spice-Brined Pecans [FOOD52]
Slow Roasted Tomato Pesto [FOOD52]
Slow Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Galettes [FOOD52]
What sort of low-temp baking do you do? Have you ever used your oven as a dehydrator? Share your cooking tips and techniques in the comments section below.
Like this post? See last week's From Scratch topic: Homemade Nut Milks.