Dehydrate Fruit to Store Away Nature’s Goodness

Dehydrate fruits for a unique, tasty and nutritious treat.  Drying fruit is a great way of adding nature’s goodness to your emergency food supply. By dehydrating fruit you are locking in important vitamins and minerals as well as amplifying the flavor of the fruit.

What are the most popular fruits to dehydrate?

Fruit Technique Pretreatment
Apples Slice & Peel (Optional) Dip (Optional)
Apricots Slice or Half & Peel (optional) Juice Dip (optional)
Bananas Peel & Slice Dip (Optional)
Strawberries Slice Not Needed
Cherries Pit & Half Not Needed
Oranges Slice, Peel (optional) Not Needed
Citrus Peel Slice Candying (optional)
Coconut Peel & Slice Not Needed
Cranberries Blanch / Check Not Needed
Mangos Peel & Slice Not Needed
Kiwi Peel & Slice Candying (Optional)

Getting the prep done

Begin by washing the fruit.  If you have that oily mess that the grocery store puts on fruit, you may want to peel the fruit first.

Do I Peel it or not?

The peel can be left on to dehydrate fruit, but un-peeled fruit takes longer to dry. I make this decision by the fruit I purchase. When I buy apples at the grocery store, more often than not, the peel is covered with wax or oil. I don’t want that stuff on my dried fruit, so I peel that fruit. Some people are bothered by the fuzz on peaches and apricots. If you don’t like it remove it… whether to peel it or not is all up to you.

How do I get the skin off my peaches or tomatoes?

Removing the skin off fruit is really easy you just:

  • Remove any stems or leaves, but do not core or cut the fruit up yet…this is process done before cutting
  • Wash your fruit thoroughly… set aside
  • Boil a pan of water
  • Fill a bowl with ice and water
  • With the water at a rolling boil, gently drop your whole fruit into the boiling water. Boil the fruit for 40 seconds. 1 minute if the fruit is slightly under ripe.
  • Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and immediately drop it into the ice water.  Let sit in the ice water for 1 minute.

At this point the fruits skin should easy slip off using your fingers.

Continue with the coring, seeding and slicing. Fruits can be cut in half, sliced or pureed. Some can be left whole.

Thin, uniform, peeled slices dry the fastest.

Dehydrate fruit whole and it will take longer to dry. Before drying whole fruits, like cranberries or grapes the skins need to be "checked" (cracked) to aid speed drying. To "check" the fruit place it in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then into cold water for 30 seconds or so.  Drain on paper towels before putting the whole fruit in the dehydrator.

Do you have home canned fruit from the last harvest that needs to be eaten?  Dehydrate fruit from a can or jar and extend its shelf life. I tried this with some spiced apple rings that were a little mushy coming out of the jar (a little overcooked.  Oops.) BUT after I dried them the apple rings turned out the constancy of fruit roll ups and Very Yummy!

Pre-treat your dried fruit to keep it looking pretty

dip ingredients for dehydrated fruit
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There are many ways to pretreat before dehydrating fruit. Here are a few of them:

Ascorbic Acid - Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) mixed with water is a safe way to prevent fruit browning when you dehydrate fruit. Ascorbic acid is available in the powdered or tablet form, from drugstores or grocery stores. One teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid is equal to 3000 mg of ascorbic acid in tablet form. (If you buy 500 mg tablets, this would be six tablets).

Directions for Use - Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid (or 3000 mg of ascorbic acid tablets, crushed) in 2 cups water. Place the fruit in the solution for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove fruit, drain well and dehydrate fruit on dryer trays. After this solution is used twice, add more acid.

Fruit Juice Dip -A fruit juice that is high in vitamin C can also be used as a pretreatment when you dehydrate fruit, though it is not as effective as pure ascorbic acid. Juices high in vitamin C include orange, lemon, pineapple, grape and cranberry. Each juice adds its own color and flavor to the dehydrated fruit. My favorite it pineapple juice.

Directions for Use - Place enough juice to cover fruit in a bowl. Add cut fruit. Soak 3 to 5 minutes, remove fruit, drain well and place on dryer trays. Drink the juice after you are done dipping the fruit in it.  It’s yummy

Honey Dip: when you dehydrate fruit with this dip, the fruit comes out similar to the dehydrated fruit you purchase in the grocery or health food stores.

Directions for use – Dissolve 1C sugar in 3C hot water. Let the sugar mixture cool to lukewarm and then add 1C honey.  Dip in small batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain before drying.

Fancy Dips: Use your imagination and come up with some fun dips of your own.  How about Jell-O dissolved in hot water? This makes your fruit sweeter and adds some color to your dried fruit.  For a little sophistication you may like to try flavored liqueurs like amaretto, raspberry, cherry, or almond. Experiment and enjoy.

If you are using canned fruit there is no reason to pretreat it, just rinse it with water and place it on your dehydrator trays. dehydrate fruit this way and It comes out candied. If you want to add some spice to the fruit then sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or even ginger before drying.

Which method should I choose to dehydrate fruit?

Whichever drying method you choose to dehydrate fruit, whether it is: Sun Drying, Solar Drying, Oven Drying or an Electric Food Dehydrator, be sure to place the fruit in a single layer on the drying trays. The pieces should not touch or overlap.

Follow the directions for the drying method you choose and dry until the food tests dry.

Is it dry yet?

Since dried fruits are generally eaten without being re-hydrated, they should not be dehydrated to the point of brittleness. Most fruits should have about 20 percent moisture content when dried.

To test for dryness, cut several cooled pieces in half. There should be no visible moisture and you should not be able to squeeze any moisture from the fruit. Some fruits may remain pliable, but are not sticky or tacky.

Fold a piece of dehydrated fruit in half.  Does it stick to itself?  If not then the fruit is done. Berries should be dried until they rattle when shaken.

After drying, cool fruit for at least 30 to 60 minutes before packaging. Packaging food warm can lead to sweating and moisture buildup. However, excessive delays in packaging, after you dehydrate fruit, could allow moisture to re-enter food.

*Remember, if you have dried fruits in the sun, they must be pasteurized, before they are packaged, to kill any insects or their eggs that might be on the food.

How do I pasteurize my dried fruit?

There are two pasteurizing methods:

The freezer method… place cool dried fruit in a plastic bag. Place the bag in the freezer for 48 hours or more. Remove from freezer. Let thaw, condition, and package.

The oven method… preheat the oven to 150’ F. Place the dried fruit on a tray in a single layer. Bake in the oven at 150’ F for 30 minutes.

After pasteurization Cool, condition.

Why Condition Fruit and how do I do it?

It is a good idea to condition the fruit after it has been dried.  Since dried fruit still retains about 20% of its moisture, conditioning redistributes the moisture among all the pieces.

To condition dried fruit you place the cool, dried pieces in a plastic bag or canning jar. Seal the containers for 7-10 days.  Shake the container every couple of days to redistribute the pieces.

If you get moisture droplets on the sides of the container, your fruit is not dry enough.  Place it back in the food dehydrator for a bit to get it a little drier.

After conditioning, package as normal. This page has a lot of great information on how to package your dehydrated fruit.

How do I reconstitute dried fruit?

There are a few ways to reconstitute fruit:

Cover your dried fruit with hot or cool fruit juice or water.  Let the fruit stand for about 10 minutes (sooner if using hot water or juice). Consider using something fancy to reconstitute your fruit like, Jell-0 dissolved in water or make an adult treat by soaking your dried fruit in fancy flavored liqueurs like amaretto, raspberry, cherry, or hazelnut.

OR

Place dried fruit in a steamer basket above boiling water for about 3 minutes until it is plump.

OR

Use dried fruit in oatmeal as it cooks the fruit reconstitutes and will be all ready to eat once the cereal is done.

To make fruit puree: reconstitute the fruit using your choice of methods.  Once the fruit is plumped up run it through a food processor or a blender.

Want to go Low Fat or Fat Free? A great tip I got from my mom is to use reconstituted fruit puree in recipes in place of fat. I like to do this too, but prefer to only replace half the fat. My muffins were turning out too dry otherwise.

Dried apple rings anyone?

My husband’s favorite snack is dried apple rings.  He calls them MMAs (Mama’s Magic Apples.)

I just peel and slice the apples on my hand dandy peeler, slicer, corer (Gala apples are our favorite for this, but we have used many different types of apples)

Pour pineapple juice in a bowl.

As I slice I just drop the apple slices in and let them soak in the pineapple juice for about 3 minutes.

remove the apple slices from the juice with a slotted spoon

 And place the apple rings on my drying racks to drain and sprinkle with cinnamon

I dry the rings for about 8-12 hours until they pass the dryness test.

Viola …. Yummy dehydrated fruit snacks you can take anyplace.

By adding dehydrated fruit to your emergency food storage you can preserve nature’s sweetness.  With some creativity you can make your own custom treats your family will love.

For more information on dehydrating fruit see Colorado State University’s fact sheet


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