Summer is flying by and while you might be enjoying all the delicious fruit and vegetables this season has to offer, we’ve got a great tip for keeping the party going, all year long. And the best part is you don’t need any special equipment to do this - just your handy dandy oven and some patience (this process takes a several hours, depending on the fruit you choose).
Spark People has great tips for drying fruit (and even making your own fruit strips!). Check it out below:
How to Dry Your Own Fruits
From Spark People
1. 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
2. (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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. How do you know if it's ready?
Dried fruit should feel like leather but still be pliable.
General Cooking Times
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
6. 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.
Simple Fruit Strip Recipe
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 agave 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.
P.S. Dried fruit can be used for so many things, including homemade trail mix, cookies, and grain salads! For more ideas, check out Saveur Magazine’s article featuring 28 recipes with dried fruit.