Love munching on delicious dried fruits, but concerned about the process they go through and all the additives they might contain? Well here is a simple way in which you can make your own assorted dried fruits that doesn’t require you to spend an arm and a leg on a dehydrator, plus you can enjoy the fruits of your labour (pun intended) knowing that they are both natural and healthy!
Firstly choosing your fruits:
When deciding which fruits to pick, opting for fruits you know can be dried is a good start. Though surprisingly most fruits can be dried, including watermelon, however, some work better in a dehydrator, whilst others work just as well using the method I am using.
Here is a list of commonly dried fruits that will work well in the ‘oven drying’ method:
- Kiwi fruit
- Select ripe fruit, as these have the most flavour and there is no chance of continued ripening once the fruits have been dried.
- Prepare your fruit by first washing it, removing any blemishes, removing any core, pits or stones, depending on the fruits you have chosen, and remove the skin if you wish (certain fruits, such as apple, peach and nectarine, dry better with the skin removed, however, this is up to you)
- Slice your fruit how you would like them, making each slice of even size so that they dry evenly.
- Then I suggest you pre-prep your fruits by soaking them in water with fresh lemon juice for at least 10 minutes before using them. This not only helps retain the colour, it also helps maintain the integrity and flavour. Once you have soaked your fruit, remember to both drain and then dry them with paper towels or a lint free clean cloth.
- Preheat your oven to around 50 - 70 degrees Celsius (using lower temperatures for thinly sliced fruits, higher for thicker slices). Stone fruits, apples and pears work best, sliced thinly and on lower temperatures, berries work best kept whole and using higher temperatures.
- Line your oven trays with baking paper and then arrange your fruits so that they are spaced out over the tray. By using a silicone pan liner, or a pizza screen on top of your fruits you can help prevent them from curling up, though this is not essential.
Making the magic:
Once you have prepared your fruits and preheated your oven, you are ready to start drying them. Different fruits will require different lengths of time to dry, here is a guide for some of the more popular fruits:
6 hours - Fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, plums and bananas
8-10 hours - Grapes, raspberries and citrus fruits
12 hours - Strawberries, apricots, mango and cherries
This is just a guideline, as times will vary depending on both the size of the fruit slices and your oven. Bake your fruits and then check and turn the trays every 1.5 - 2 hours. You will know when they are ready as the fruit will become dried like leather but still soft and pliable (just like the dried fruit you buy in stores!)
Time for the cure:
Once your fruit has been oven-dried, it is time to cure it in either glass or plastic containers. Store in a safe, dry place with the lids off for 4-5 days, so that any remaining moisture can evaporate. In this time, shake or move the fruit around each day. After this time you can store them in a sealed container in a cool and dry place available for you to enjoy whenever you fancy them!
Not only is this a delicious way to enjoy your fruit, it is also an excellent way to preserve it! Dried fruits make excellent energy snacks that you can easily pack and take with you on long treks, bike rides, or basically anywhere you want to take an easy healthy snack to enjoy!