How to Dehydrate Fruit at Home
Dehydrating fruit at home has many benefits. It provides much of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber present in fresh fruits, but in more concentrated quantities. In the same way, by eliminating the water, dehydrated fruit is a high-energy food and an ideal sweet to replace candy. So, why not dehydrate fruit at home?
Thanks to their small size and weight, dehydrated fruits can be taken everywhere, making them a recommended choice for breakfasts, snacks, or energy boosters. In addition, they can be eaten alone or you can also add them to many recipes: Granolas, salads, yogurts, and more. They can also be used to sweeten desserts and homemade sweets.
Nowadays, many varieties are available in pre-packaged forms. However, sometimes they can have a high price or be accompanied by additional ingredients, such as sugar, oil, sulfites, or other preservatives.
So if you want to consume them often, it’s a good idea to do the whole process at home. It’s simple and suitable for all levels of cooking experience, and you’ll be able to control the quality of the ingredients. In addition, it’s an ideal activity to do with your little ones.
What to keep in mind before you start
When making homemade preserves, the result depends on many variables, besides the ingredients used or the carrying out of all the steps. When dehydrating fruit at home, keep in mind some of the considerations we’ll explain below.
Type of fruit
Many types of fruit can be dried. But each one conditions the process, as some contain more water than others and take longer to dehydrate. This is the case with strawberries and other berries, for example.
This’s why it’s best to work in batches and dry each type of fruit separately. If there’s not enough time or if you want to do everything at once, you only need to be more alert and remove the ones that are drying earlier.
The cut of the fruit conditions the time required and the final texture. The thinner it’s cut, the faster it dries, and the crunchier it is.
As we already mentioned, dehydrating fruit isn’t complicated but it does require a little time. Regardless of the system, you choose to do it, and the temperature you apply, the more hours that go by, the more water they lose.
Working with higher temperatures greatly shortens the time of the whole process, but also increases the risk of roasting, cooking, or burning the fruit. And this isn’t the result you’re looking for with dehydration. In addition, the loss of some vitamins is also higher.
Sometimes the market price of dried fruits can be a bit high. And if they’re consumed often, it can represent a considerable weekly expense.
The advantage of preparing one’s own preserves is that the final cost of the whole process is lower. Much of the success depends on the raw material, so we recommend you choose quality fresh fruit.
Prepare other homemade preserves: Recipes for Alpine-Style Yogurt
Available methods to dehydrate fruit at home
Drying food is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of preservation. It can be done through processes that are respectful of the original food and with a final result that maintains its original shape, color, and flavor.
Nowadays, the procedures have advanced a lot, but some of the techniques are easy to perform at home. No large utensils or specific appliances are needed, although a little patience is required.
To dehydrate in the oven, the fruits are placed on the same trays that you use for other baking. It’s very useful to line them with paper so that they can be removed more easily later.
To begin, wash the fruits well, taking care not to break them. Next, remove the pits when necessary, as well as the seeds and stalks. Cut into pieces or slices of similar size and place on top of the trays, leaving a little space between them.
Heat the oven to 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and place the trays in the oven. If the appliance has a fan, it’s best to use it to ensure air circulation. Otherwise, open the door from time to time to remove humidity.
The approximate time to obtain a good result is between 6 and 10 hours. Although this depends a lot on the type of fruit, the cut, and the final texture you want to achieve.
How to dehydrate fruit in a microwave oven
This is the fastest method and is great when you’re in a bit of a hurry and want to dehydrate fruit. It does require more attention though, as there’s also a high risk of burning the fruit.
As in the previous process, you need to select, wash, and dry the desired fruit. Cut in half or thin slices if they’re larger pieces (peaches, apples, pears).
Place in a microwave-safe dish. You’ll need to spread them out to avoid crowding. Also, be sure not to mix different types of fruit; it’s much better to make them in separate batches.
Program a time of approximately 30 to 45 minutes in the defrosting function. That way, it’s easier to avoid burning. But don’t forget to be vigilant.
The most traditional method: Dehydrate fruit in the sun
This is the oldest way of dehydrating fruit and produces very tasty specimens. However, control over the final result is complicated, as it depends a lot on climatic conditions.
To carry it out, you’ll need to prepare the fruit and place it on top of a slit. Cover it with a fine mosquito net or a gauze cloth to avoid contact with insects and other animals. Then place it in a place on the balcony, terrace, or yard where it receives direct sunlight and is well ventilated.
The ideal temperature is around 86 degrees, and you’ll need to turn the fruits every 12 hours. In this case, it can take between 2 and 5 days to dry. At night, it’s advisable to bring them inside the house.
How to store dried fruit
The dehydration process is a way to extend the shelf life of fresh fruit. Once the process is finished and well stored, it can last for weeks or months in good condition. To this end, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has drawn up the following recommendations:
- Before canning, it’s essential to allow the fruit to cool completely. Fruits that are still warm give off moisture and this facilitates the appearance of mold.
- Pack in clean, dry containers. The most suitable containers are glass jars, plastic jars, or freezer bags with zipper closures. Another good option is vacuum packaging.
- Fill the containers with the fruits tightly but without crushing them. If the quantities are large, it’s preferable to divide the fruits into several separate containers. Keep in mind that each time they’re opened, air and humidity can spoil the contents.
- Store in dry, dark, and cool areas. Under these conditions, the shelf life varies between 4 months and 1 year.
- Occasionally check canned foods for moisture. In this case, food in good condition can be re-dried. If they appear moldy, it’s better to discard them.
Key points to dehydrate fruit successfully
Drying fruits at home is easy and you get a quality and affordable product. In addition to being tasty, they’re healthy and boost your energy levels. However, it’s important to remember that they don’t replace the recommended daily servings of fruit.
Before starting, remember to wash and dry the fruit and cut them all the same size (either in halves or slices). Some of them, such as pears or apples, may darken with drying. To avoid this, your can sprinkle them with a little lemon juice.
It’s essential not to forget them and to watch them from time to time to prevent them from burning. If they don’t dehydrate uniformly, turn them over from time to time.
With the methods we mentioned, you can elaborate on dried fruits at home without any problem. However, if you like them so much that they’re part of your daily diet, it may be a good idea to invest in a specific appliance to dehydrate at home.
Finally, remember that the final result is a matter of time, humidity, and temperature. You may experience some failures at the beginning, but don’t be discouraged! With a little patience and mastery of the technique, you’ll soon be successful.It might interest you...