Full of energy and nutrition, dried fruit is one of nature’s greatest and most versatile snacks. But buying commercially dried fruit can introduce extra sugars and chemicals that we’d prefer to avoid. The good news is that drying your own fruit is easy, fun and convenient with your very own fruit dehydrator.
When you dry fruit, you’re basically dehydrating it to the point where you remove all the water and liquid content, leaving only super-concentrated flavour (and yes, natural sugars). And although you can successfully dry pretty much any fruit, late summer is the perfect time to get started with new-season apples, plums, berries and pears.
Drying sliced fruit
The best way to start is with top-quality, just-ripe produce. You then need to core (if necessary) and slice the fruit into equal-sized (approximately 5 mm thick) pieces – this step is important so everything cooks evenly.
Dehydrators use less energy than having the oven on for hours, as you would with an oven-drying method. And, as with a slow cooker, you can safely go to sleep or leave the house while the dehydrator does its thing. Every dehydrator comes with detailed instructions on how best to use that particular model, but the general fruit-preparation method above is still the starting point.
Drying times vary, again depending on the appliance you’re using and the liquid content of your fruit of choice. The greater the liquid content, the longer the fruit takes to dry. For example, lemons, oranges and bananas take 10 hours or more. These are great options for easy overnight drying. And the appliance does all the work. Another tip: if you’re drying multiple fruits, it’s a good idea to group fruits with similar drying times together so they don’t leach flavours from each other.
Do your kids like fruit leather? Making your own is easy with your dehydrator. Start by combining fruit with a little water in a blender. Spread the mixture on cling wrap on a dehydrator tray and set temperature to 43 to 48ºC) for four hours. When the leather is dry on the bottom side, peel it off the cling wrap, flip it and dry it for one or two more hours, depending on just how leathery you like it.
Top storage tips
Don’t ruin all your good work by incorrectly storing your dried fruit. Don’t put dried fruit in the fridge – the moisture will completely spoil it. Instead, store it in airtight containers or snap-lock plastic bags. Also, keep these snacks away from sunlight. In other words, a cool, dark place in the pantry is perfect.
For simple, do-it-yourself snacking, follow these tasty tips!