How to Dry Fruit.
One of the first methods of food preservation was probably definitely dehydration. It is not only a very simple process, but it also yields meals that are lightweight, takes up considerably less space than their fresh counterparts, can be kept at room temperature, and last for essentially eternity.
These qualities have made dried meals staples of every civilization and, in fact, made it possible for societies to travel across different lands. Dried foods have long been a traveler’s buddy, from hunter-gatherer nomads to the crews of sailing ships to the contemporary hiker munching on trail mix.
In the absence of moisture, no bacteria, yeasts, or molds can exist. The fact that they are dried makes them safe. In addition to slowing down enzyme activity, dehydrating food does not completely stop it.
In dry regions like Southern California or the Mediterranean, dehydrating food may be as easy as leaving it out in the sun while covered by a screen to keep away insects. For instance, it is how sun-dried tomatoes were first produced. However, if you do it in a humid area like the eastern coast of North America, mold is what you get.
Because of this, I’ve concentrated on drying items in an oven or a dehydrator in this article. The final product tastes exactly as good as if it had really been dried in the sun.
There are three benefits to dehydrating food as opposed to using an oven to do so:
• You may adjust the dehydrator’s temperature up to 50°F lower than your oven’s lowest setting.
• Using a regular oven instead of one with built-in fans may reduce drying periods by as much as 50% (convection ovens can equal a dehydrator’s faster drying times). This implies that compared to using a dehydrator, using your oven is virtually always far less energy efficient.
• Stacking racks on a dehydrator are considerably simpler to use than a small oven and several baking sheets.
It goes without saying that I prefer drying food in a dehydrator to an oven. However, I dried things in my oven for a long time before I purchased a dehydrator, and the results were excellent. Use it if that is all you have.
When reconstituted in liquid, will dried foods taste the same as when they were fresh? Never. But if you learn to appreciate them for their distinct tastes and textures, it is not an issue.
Do you really anticipate a raisin to taste like a grape? But raisins are simply different and just as tasty as the grapes they are manufactured from.
Dried foods hold up well nutritionally. While they do lose vitamin C, they keep the majority of their vitamin A, fiber, and the majority of their minerals, and B vitamins. When dried foods are rehydrated by steeping them in hot water, the minerals and B vitamins seep out into the soaking water.
Don’t discard the water that is soaking! It not only contains some of the food’s essential nutrients, but it also has a ton of taste. I use the soaking water from rehydrating dried tomatoes to pasta sauces, and adding the soaking water from dried, wild edible mushrooms to risotto or any other meal enhances the mushroom taste.
Tips for Drying Fruit
Anyone who has ever had a raisin or a dried apple will attest that fruit dries nicely.
Anyone who has ever tasted a raisin or a dried apple knows that fruit dries nicely. But there are a few recommended practices to follow if you want home-dried fruit to provide the finest results.
It is necessary to “check” fruit that will be dried intact, such as grapes and cranberries. In essence, checking fruit involves skin-cracking. To achieve this, prepare a big basin of cold water as well as a saucepan of boiling water.
Put the entire fruits in the boiling water for 1 to 10 minutes, strain them in a colander, and then immediately submerge them in cold water to prevent further cooking from the residual heat. Before drying the fruit, drain it one more.
Apples and other larger fruits dry best when peeled and cut 1/8 to 14 inches thick. Fruits don’t need need to be peeled before dehydrating them, although doing so might increase drying time and cause the edges of otherwise satisfyingly chewy dried fruit to have an unpleasant harsh feel.
Fruit that has been home-dried may become noticeably darker as it dries. Sulfites are used as a pre-drying treatment on commercially available dried fruits with vivid hues, including the highly orange-colored dried apricots.
Though it is doable, I don’t advise doing this at home. One reason why most of us don’t keep substances like sodium metabisulfite in our kitchen cupboards is that sulfites may cause headaches, respiratory issues, and other symptoms in those whose systems are sensitive to them.
Fortunately, there are other methods for pretreating fruit to ensure that it maintains its color. In all of them, the fruit is first dehydrated and then quickly soaked in acidic water. Fruit slices should be immediately placed in the acidified water and allowed to soak there for 10 minutes before being thoroughly drained and dried. One of the following approaches may be used to create acidulated water.
TREATMENT WITH LEMON JUICE
Lemon juice and cold water should be mixed in equal quantities.
TREATMENT WITH CITRIC ACID
- 1 teaspoon of citric acid should be dissolved in 1 quart of cold water. Sometimes, you may get citric acid in supermarkets and hardware shops next to the canning supplies, or you can purchase it online.
- Treatment with ascorbic acid
- 1 quart of cold water should be used to dissolve 112 tablespoons of ascorbic acid crystals.
Alternately, smash vitamin C pills and dissolve them in water (six 500ml vitamin C tablets equal 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals; thus, you’ll need 27 tablets for a quart of water). Crystals of ascorbic acid are sometimes sold at pharmacies and grocery shops, or they may be obtained online.
Once the fruit has been “checked” and or prepared, arrange it in a single layer on the dehydrator trays, or if you want to dry the fruit in the oven, on racks placed on baking sheets. Keep in mind that when the fruit dries, it will significantly shrink and might fall through a rack if the gaps are too large.
This is often not an issue with dehydrators, but it may be if you make a makeshift dehydration rack in your oven. By covering the rack with a coarsely mesh screen, you may avoid this issue. Verify that no fruit pieces are in contact with one another.
In a dehydrator, to dry: Fruit should be dried at 135 to 140 °F.
In an oven, dry: The lowest setting for the oven should be between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the fruit baking pans inside. Using a dishtowel or the handle of a wooden spoon, hold the oven door open.
Use a dehydrator or an oven to dry the fruit until it is leathery and no moisture beads appear along the edges of a piece that has been cut in half.
Before transferring the fruit to glass or stainless steel jars or containers, condition it by allowing it to completely cool on the trays.
Fill the containers with just two-thirds of the freshly dried fruit to further condition it for the highest-quality dried fruit. For a week, shake the jar every day while it is covered. Any remaining moisture will be distributed once again. Fruit should be returned to the dehydrator or oven for a few more hours if there are any indications of condensation on the interior of the container.
Should be put back in the dehydrator or oven for a few more hours after a week. After the fruit has been conditioning for a week, completely fill the storage containers with it (the fruit was only half-filled in the jars to make shaking it simpler).
Along with just dehydrating fruit, there are a few somewhat more complex techniques that result in delights like craisins and quince paste.
How to Use a Dehydrator to Dry Cranberries
Dried cranberries, often known as “craisins,” are delicious snacks that is also fantastic on salads, in baked goods, with cereal, or with yogurt.