How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  102 comments   :  867,384 Views

It's summer, and that means fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants are exploding with a bountiful harvest.  A healthy goal is to eat a variety of these local and fresh fruits.  
If we fast forward to fall, the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries are all but gone.  Never fear!  With local produce at its peak, think like the animals--harvest and store for winter.   
When it comes to fruit, you have three options: can, freeze, or dry.
Today I'm going to teach you how to turn summer's freshest fruit into a snack you can enjoy year-round. It's like nature's candy, and it requires no special equipment.
While you could use a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet, you don't need one. All you need is an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners and sheet pans or pizza screens if you have them. 
The method is quite simple. You're simply heating the fruit at a low temperature to allow enough water to evaporate so the chance of bacterial growth is minimized.
How to Dry Your Own Fruits
Prep your fruit
Choose ripe or just overly ripe fruits and berries
Wash in cold water
Remove any blemishes
Remove any pits or stones from stone fruits
Remove any stems from berries
Cut and slice fruits evenly so that they will dry within the same time frame
 (Optional) Remove the skins
Some fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, and apples, dry better if the skin has been removed.  Score the bottom of each piece of fruit by making a shallow "x" with a paring knife. Bunk into boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to a basin filled with ice water. The skins should slip right off.
Soak it
To keep fruit looking pretty and minimize discoloration, soak it in lemon juice and water.
Soak fruit for 10 minutes, drain and blot dry with a lint-free towel.
To the Oven
Preheat the oven to 130-160 degrees F. Use a lower temperature for thin sliced fruits such as apples or peaches.  Strawberries and other whole berries love the higher heat.
Place parchment paper onto sheet pans.  Arrange fruit in a single layer, and do not allow pieces to touch. Top fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner to keep them from curling up as they dry.
Place fruit into the oven and rotate pans every 2 hours.
How do you know if it's ready? Dried fruit should feel like leather but still be pliable.
General Cooking Times
(We've shared a convenient, pinnable graphic below!)
Plums 6 hours
Pears 6 hours
Peaches 6 hours
Bananas 6 hours
Apples 6 hours
Grapes 8-10 hours
Citrus Peel 8-10 hours
Cherries 12 hours
Strawberries 12 hours
Apricots 12 hours
Cure it! 
When the fruit is ready, remove it from the oven and place in glass or plastic containers to "cure."  Leave the container open for 4-5 days so that any moisture left from the drying process can evaporate.  Shake the container every day or so to move the fruit around.

Seal the containers after 5 days and enjoy dried fruits until next harvest season, about 10 months.
Don't feel like you have to dry pieces of fruit or berries.  Try making a DIY fruit strips.
Simple Fruit Strip Recipe
Note: Nutrition info will vary 

Combine 2 cups of chopped fruits and berries into a saucepan with 1 cup water, and cook over medium heat until fruit is soft.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Puree the cooked fruit with 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Spread onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Dry at 140 degrees for 5-6 hours.  If fruit feels sticky after 6 hours continue to dry an additional hour. Use kitchen shears to cut into desired shapes.
Chef's tip: Save tomato skins
As a chef, I hate to waste any foods.  Tomato skins tend to be discarded, especially when you're canning tomatoes in summertime.  Don't pitch them--dry them.  Dried tomato skins are a perfect topping for appetizers like crostini, salads, and even pizza. You can even grind dried tomato skins and add to spice blends.  Follow the steps above, making sure to cover with parchment paper or a pizza screen so that the skins will not curl up while drying.  Bake at 150 degrees for 1-2 hours.  Follow the "curing" instructions above.
Chef's tip #2: Get the holiday spirit early
It's never too early to get ready for the holidays.  Dry slices of oranges for the holiday tree.  Store in a sealed container until the holidays.
Will you try drying your own fruit?
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  • 52
    Wow, this is a great idea and I would love to try it. But I work so much and can barely get a meal on the table each I will file this idea away for a later time when my lifestyle is more conducive to time in the kitchen. - 6/22/2013   12:04:29 PM
  • 51
    Thanks for the tips. I wish I had time to make my own! - 6/21/2013   9:54:55 PM
  • 50
    sounds like a great and healthy idea. but a lot of planning and tedious work. i have no patience whatsoever. maybe i can get my daughter and her friends to do it. - 6/21/2013   2:08:04 PM
  • 49
    good way to make your homeade dry fruit. thinks for the tip - 6/21/2013   2:05:15 PM
    I don't have the patience for this, and I've never seen an oven with temperature settings that low. Sprouts, it is. - 6/21/2013   2:00:10 PM
  • 47
    Good to know thank you - 6/21/2013   1:43:03 PM
  • 46
    I prefer to use the dehydrator. I agree, asking for special appliances for gifts works well for me. If an appliance makes my work easier, more efficient (saves me time), or makes me really happy then it is a worthy gift. When I dehydrate, I can move the dehydrator to a different room from the kitchen, so the minimal heat is not in the room I use most. I have an electric range/oven and even on lowest setting, it will heat the room. Since we do not have AC, I am not looking for ways to heat the house in summer. We dehydrate all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I have never tried jerky / meat type foods. - 6/21/2013   1:03:08 PM
    reading all the comments made me think that I dry fruit in the sun liked the idea of using large jars I do not have an oven so cant use it feel its a good idea to not have to eat the chemical junk that is put in commercial dried fruit - 6/21/2013   12:40:08 PM
    Great! - 6/21/2013   12:28:43 PM
  • 43
    Eeps, doesn't seem cost or time effective to be honest. I can get affordable and delicious dried fruit from Trader Joe's. - 6/21/2013   12:26:41 PM
    It sounds interesting and easy enough but keeping the oven on that long just isn't sensible when it is hot out. - 6/21/2013   12:19:54 PM
    This was a great blog piece! Since I need to spend such a long stretch of time minding my fruit drying process I decided it would be a good day to catch up on those irritating little sewing repairs; decluttering my domestic hot spots and returning this and that to the proper place; taking a rag and dusting off the top of all the doors, door and window frames, tops of draperies etc. I'm psyched thinking of what work out music I can blast while I fly. - 6/21/2013   12:12:58 PM
    This great - 6/21/2013   10:48:29 AM
  • 39
    On average, an electric oven uses $0.80 worth of electricity over 5 hours - your television uses $0.15 and the computer you're reading this on even more. Don't guess, figure out what it really costs in electricity. - 6/21/2013   10:20:03 AM
  • 38
    Thanks for the easy instructions. I am printing and trying this excellent information. Pat in Maine. - 6/21/2013   10:11:33 AM
  • 37
    I have a propane oven that will only go to 200 degrees. I'm going to try this anyway with the door open a crack. I have a lot of fruit that goes bad because my family gets sick of it before it is gone so this hopefully will save some money and stock the cabinets for winter.
    Thank you for this article I have wondered how long to dry them for in the past. - 6/21/2013   9:42:24 AM
  • 36
    I agree, I'm never home for more than 6 hours at a time unless I'm asleep. I don't trust leaving my oven on overnight...I've had friends (more than one) burn their house down trying to do that. However, I think this is great for the more "domestic" types who can hang out at home that long. :) - 6/21/2013   9:41:08 AM
  • MWS1188
    The oven temp is so low, I would think the electricity and heat generated wouldn't be a huge problem--and you can dry a lot of fruit at one time. At $6.99 / lb. at the grocery store, it's a bargain. And, your home-made dried fruit doesn't have added sugars or chemical preservatives. I'm trying it this weekend. M. p.s. check out Kickstarter, "Well-done, The Wellness Manifesto" for another great idea. - 6/21/2013   8:57:15 AM
  • 34
    Not a real fan of dried fruits, so I just freeze mine. - 6/21/2013   8:36:00 AM
    Don't mean to shoot you down, because this was very informative and well-written. But I have to agree with others here--it doesn't seem like a very cost-effective way to get dried fruit. I'm sure the fruit does taste great, but I'm afraid the utility bill would be rather bitter. - 6/21/2013   8:25:27 AM
  • 32
    Wow, I cannot believe the number of comments about being too expensive and time consuming. It's not people! I've done this before and not only is the flavor AMAZING compared to the crap bought in the stores, it also doesn't contain all the extra addititive store bought dried fruit has. Nothing bugs me more than when I see they've added sugar to already sweet fruit. I'd rather use the honey mentioned above or just let the sweetness of the fruit shine through. If you've never tried drying your own fruit, then you're missing out. Oh and I've made sun-dried tomatoes this way too, which incidentally, most store bought sun-dried tomatoes aren't really sun-dried anyway. They're done in an oven. And for the people who live in dry, sunny climates, like Arizonia, you can do this same thing outside. Just put the fruit on the parchment paper in a pan, cover with a cheese cloth and set them outside. Now that is cheap and it doesn't heat up the house like some people worry about. Which by the way, with the oven on that low, it didn't feel any warmer than normal in my house and I don't have central AC. That low of a temp, the heat stays in the oven, it doesn't spread through the house like running the oven at baking temperatures. - 6/21/2013   7:28:10 AM
    Although a good idea, the cost of electricity in Ontario is way too high to consider using my oven for this. I will buy dehydrated fruit, much less expensive. - 6/21/2013   6:37:25 AM
  • 30
    Read this with some surprise - don't like to be negative but energy must be *way* too cheap in the USA. You won't get many people in the UK using an oven like this. - 6/21/2013   6:13:17 AM
  • GUIN66
    Just found GKWINDER's comments about sun drying. Thanks for that information. I might try it. - 6/21/2013   6:03:12 AM
  • GUIN66
    I wonder how many days in the sun it takes, like they do in Middle Eastern countries? Anyone have any knowledge on that? I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and we have lots of sun all year round. - 6/21/2013   6:00:10 AM
  • 27
    In our environment, there is so much humidity that leaving the jar open would just start the process of RE-hydrating the fruit. And then it would tend to mold sooner.

    I agree with other posters that I won't be running my oven in the summer!
    (Nice "idea" but not too practical.) - 6/21/2013   5:16:41 AM
  • 26
    Yikes! Can't imagine doing this in *summer* (5-6 hrs. of having the oven on full blast)! I think I'll pass! - 6/21/2013   4:53:16 AM
  • 25
    I will definitely be trying this. I'm so tired of having to buy imported dried fruit from the grocery store.I - 6/21/2013   3:45:05 AM
  • 24
    Good ideas here. Like the one about saving the tomato skins. May try that this year as I do a lot of canning too.
    Also thanks for the tip about curing the fruit after drying. I did not know that needed to be done - 6/21/2013   12:57:01 AM
    Between the oven and air conditioner I'm betting it'll be cheaper and greener for me to buy pre-dried. Good thought if you own a dehydrator though! - 6/20/2013   10:56:12 PM
  • 22
    This sounds awesome and so delicious! - 6/20/2013   10:27:50 PM
    Great blog - 6/20/2013   7:41:14 PM
  • 20
    I think it's cheaper just to buy dried fruit than leaving your oven on all day. - 6/20/2013   6:36:36 PM
  • 19
    My oven won't got that low. I do love my Excalibur food dryer, though.
    - 6/20/2013   6:21:14 PM
    Thanks for the useful information - 1/6/2013   4:42:39 PM
  • 17
    Love this!!! It's time for peaches and they have been wonderful this year. Canned fruit is so not fruit anymore and this is a WONDERFUL option. Using the oven overnight is a marvelous idea as well! Thanks! - 7/23/2012   4:16:40 PM
  • 16
    do you have to strain the water from the fruit before puree for the fruit strips? - 7/14/2012   12:13:08 PM
  • 15
    Cooking something for 6-12 hours in an oven on a hot summer's day does not sound like fun! I'm thinking about getting a dehydrator though! - 7/12/2012   2:58:53 PM
  • 14
    Agree with all of the above. sorry too much time to do this - 7/11/2012   6:21:58 AM
  • 13
    This sounds like a fun project and all, but I agree with some other comments - it isn't very practical. It would be nice to dry my own fruit, if fruit were fresh and in season (and cheap) during the winter months, and the house would need heated anyway. However, during the summer when fruit is readily available, but the house is hard enough to keep cool? Um, I'll pass on that, thanks. I'll just buy my dried fruit when it's on sale. It's difficult to fit into my calorie range anyway, so generally I save my money and just don't eat it. - 7/10/2012   11:42:16 AM
  • 12
    I use a dehydrator to make jerky, dried chiles, dried onions, etc. Haven't tried any fruit yet. - 7/10/2012   10:34:31 AM
  • MIZINFO2003
    some great hints
    - 7/10/2012   9:56:20 AM
  • 10
    No need to keep the oven all day if you are in hot weather or have a place in direct sun. I use large glass jars and put cheese cloth rubber banded over the top. Place the jars with fruit on side in direct sun. When the sun goes away, put lids on and in the about 3-4 days it will be done....or you can finish by leaving in the oven overnight. - 7/10/2012   3:02:42 AM
    My husband's family thinks I'm nuts to ask for kitchen appliance as Christmas presents, but it's a great way to get what you want. A few years ago I asked for a dehydrator. We have three apple trees, one pear tree, one peach tree and a big garden so I use it all the time. I figure the electric cost is offset by the fact that I don't watch TV lol.

    - 7/10/2012   1:47:18 AM
    Leave an oven on THAT long? Even at at the lowest temp it's a waste of electricity. I'll get mine at Whole Foods or Sam's. - 7/9/2012   10:22:07 PM
  • 7
    While it sounds good, between the heat here in AZ and the cost of electricity, I think I'm better off buying dried fruits at the local Sprouts rather then keeping my oven on for 6 hours. - 7/9/2012   8:58:37 PM
  • 6
    Awesome idea about the tomato skins! Thanks. - 7/9/2012   8:48:50 PM
  • 5
    Sure, will probably try it! Can buy a huge batch of 'older' but still good fruit at a local Joseph's for $1. Sounds good to me!!!! - 7/9/2012   8:44:54 PM
  • 4
    I usually use a dehydrator but mine just broke so I've been using the oven. If you have really ripe or organic fruit, you do not need to add honey. I don't use lemon either. Sure it's brown but I expect it so it's ok with me.

    I dry mine in the oven overnight so it doesn't heat up the house during the day. Plus I'm not always home during the day to monitor it. Put it on when I go to bed, a lot of fruits are done by the morning (6-8 hours). It's on the very lowest setting too so it's not too warm in the house.

    If you have your own trees/garden or can get a great price from the farmer's market this can be the cheaper way to go. Also, a lot of the packaged dried fruit has added oils, sugars, or preservatives. You don't need sweeteners because drying intensifies the sugars and good fruit is sweet enough as is.

    I swear, the dried raisins or cherries are like eating candy! - 7/9/2012   7:50:06 PM
    This is awesome! - 7/9/2012   7:35:53 PM

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