How to Make Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a delicious and nutritious snack that has been enjoyed for centuries. Not only is it a great source of natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals, but it’s also easy to store and transport. With just a few simple steps, you can make your own dried fruit at home using your oven or a food dehydrator. In this article, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to make dried fruit so you can enjoy this tasty treat anytime.
1. Select fresh, ripe fruit:
Choose high-quality fruits that are ripe but not overly so. Overripe fruits may become too soft during the drying process, while underripe fruits may not have as much flavor. Some popular choices for drying include apples, peaches, pears, bananas, mangoes, cherries, berries, grapes, and apricots.
2. Wash and prepare the fruit:
Rinse the fruits thoroughly under cold running water to remove dirt and residue. Next, remove any stems or leaves and slice the fruit into uniform pieces – about 1/4-inch thick for larger fruits like apples or pears and 1/2-inch thick for smaller fruits like berries and grapes. If desired, you can remove the skin of some fruits like peaches or mangoes before drying.
3. Pre-treat the fruit (optional):
Certain fruits like apples or pears are susceptible to browning when exposed to air during the drying process. To help preserve their color and minimize oxidation, pre-treat cut fruit by dipping them in a solution of lemon juice and water (equal parts) for about 5 minutes before draining them on paper towels.
4. Arrange the fruit:
Once your fruit is prepped, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats in a single layer without the pieces touching one another. Alternatively, if using a food dehydrator, arrange the fruit on the dehydrator trays in single layers.
5. Dry the fruit:
For oven drying, preheat your oven to its lowest setting – usually between 140°F and 170°F (60°C and 75°C). Place the baking sheet with the fruit inside, and prop the oven door open slightly to allow moisture to escape. Bake for 6 to 12 hours, turning the slices every couple of hours or until they’re dehydrated to your desired texture.
For food dehydrators, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for temperature settings and drying time, which will typically range from 4 to 12 hours depending on the type of fruit and thickness of slices.
6. Cooling and storing dried fruit:
Once your dried fruit has achieved a leathery or slightly crispy texture, remove them from the oven or dehydrator and let them cool to room temperature. When fully cooled, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Dried fruit can last up to six months in proper storage conditions.
With these simple steps, you can make your own dried fruit at home and enjoy this convenient and healthy snack whenever you want. With endless combinations of fruits available, get creative and try drying different varieties of fruits for unique flavor combinations.