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How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/20/2013 6:00 PM   :  71 comments   :  140,620 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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Comments

  • DELLMEL
    21
    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
  • BANNERMAN
    18
    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
    11
    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 refrigeraator....in 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
  • 1GNPARKER
    9
    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
  • LJGALLO
    8
    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
  • HOLALOLA
    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
  • 3
    This is awesome! - 7/9/2012   7:35:53 PM
  • 2
    I'd love to try this, but having my oven on all day long here in Florida ain't gonna happen. - 7/9/2012   7:05:11 PM
  • 1
    No, I think it is cheaper for me to just buy Ann's HOUSE OF NUTS Trailmix items. - 7/9/2012   6:40:32 PM

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