We want to pick as many as we can and hold onto the season for as long as possible. Because, once winter arrives we’re left to eat fruit shipped from far away places. So we pick and purchase as many as possible. Dehydrating fruit is such a great option for long-term storage without filling your freezer. When buying dried fruit, you’ll notice that some packages claim “sulfate free”, while others have “potassium sulfate” in their ingredients list. Some fruits need to be pre-treated before dehydrating in order to make them taste better, look better, or last longer. Generally, you want to avoid potassium sulfate, just because it’s one more chemical you don’t need.
You can dry food in a number of ways: sun drying, solar drying, oven drying, dehydrator drying. To effectively dry food it is necessary to have the right combination of low humidity, air current and warm temperatures. Dehydrator drying is probably the best way to dry fruits and vegetables. Most dehydrators allow you to expand the number of trays; they are sturdy, safe and much quicker than any other method. They provide a constant heat source, you can set the temperature, and the fan allows for even air circulation.
Tips for Dehydrating Fruit
Buy fruits and vegetables in season, they’ll have the best flavor. Choose mature, firm fruits for the highest sugar and nutritional content, but avoid bruised or overripe fruit. Wash and rinse the fruit to remove wax and pesticides if dehydrating fruit with the skin on. Cut fruit into small pieces about ⅛ inch thick and spread in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Cut away any bruising and discard food item if any mold is present. Most fruit will be pliable or leathery when done, meaning you can bend it and tear it, but it won’t be so dry that you can snap it. You can season the food with spices like cinnamon or dehydrate food in its natural state.
How To Dehydrate Fruit
By dehydrating your fruits, you can increase your consumption of healthy foods, satisfy a craving for crunch and store these yummy beauties for a long time.
Select fully ripe figs and wash the figs well. If the figs are large, slice them in half lengthwise. If they’re fairly small, say only an inch or two at the widest point, then you may dehydrate them whole. Place in a dehydrator set at about 120°F. This preserves the optimal nutrition and enzymes, which are destroyed at higher temperatures. Dehydrate the figs for 8-24 hours, turning every few hours if using the oven and basting in any accumulated juices. Depending on the relative humidity and size of the fruit, drying times can vary widely. Remove figs when they are fully dry to the touch, but still pliable and chewy. You can best judge the state of the figs by removing one from the batch, letting it cool, then biting into it to judge it’s texture and appearance. Once finished, cool figs completely before placing in airtight containers. Dried figs will keep for 1-2 years in a cool, dark, dry location.
In order to dehydrate black plums, simply slice them down the side and easily remove the pit. Then place them on a dehydrator rack, skin side up and fanned out.
Set your dehydrator between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the plums to dehydrate for 6 to 24 hours, or until they are no longer juicy, yet remain pliable. If you can squish the prunes with your fingers and they feel wet, place them back in the dehydrator. Allow the prunes to cool down before storage. Store your prunes in glass jars or resealable plastic storage bags.
Grapes of choice wash, remove from stems. Slice in half, if desired. If you don’t slice the grapes they will take longer to dehydrate. These are purple seedless grapes. Place the grapes evenly on the dehydrator racks and dehydrate according to your dehydrator’s instructions. Set the temperature at 135 degrees. Dried them until they were wrinkled and pliable. They took about 16 hours. The time will vary depending on the humidity of the room or area where you are drying the grapes.
Choose bananas with some brown speckles on the peel for maximum sweetness, but avoid drying over-ripe, soft bananas. Peel the bananas and slice crosswise into ⅛ inch thick pieces. Dehydrate at 135° until chip-like or leathery (8 – 12 hours). Home dried bananas are not crunchy like the dried bananas you find in store-bought trail mixes because they are not fried before drying. Bananas are done when you bend them and they are not pliable. Ideally, they should come very close to breaking when bent.
Wash, slice and core them. You can peel them or dehydrate with peeling. The one cup lemon juice and one cup water solution is optional to keep them from turning brown during the drying period. If you get your apples in the dehydrator right away, the color change will be minimal and vitamin content and taste will be well preserved. Most fruits undergo some oxidation including pears, peaches, pineapples and bananas. Over time, oxidation will diminish the vitamin content and flavor of fruit. Set dehydrator at 135 degrees for about 4 hours. The drying time all depends on the humidity in the air. Please check your own dehydrator temperature requirement.