Drying Fruit at Home – Easier Than You Think
Whether you love the taste of fruits during the winter, or you simply love to learn new and interesting ways to prepare food, you may be wondering about how to dry fruit. Drying fruit is one way to preserve its delicious flavors for the winter. If you have some fruit that you would love to preserve, here are a few things that can get you started.
Start with fruit that is ripe, but not soft or squishy. They should not have any soft spots or bad spots. When you have your fruit selected, start by washing them, pitting them, and then slicing them. The smaller the pieces, the faster your fruit will dry. If you keep the pieces uniform in size, you will be able to dry them more evenly.
When the fruit has been cut up, you will need to pre-treat it. One way to pre-treat apricots or apples is to blanch them. Blanching involves steaming the fruit for five minutes and then plunging them into ice water. Alternately, instead of blanching, you can pre-treat the fruit by dipping it in a solution made of 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons of ascorbic acid for 5 minutes. There are also other ways to pre-treat the fruit prior to the drying process.
After you have pre-treated the fruit, it is ready to be dried. The most simple method of drying fruit involves sun drying, but do keep in mind that you are going to need three days of sunny heat that hovers around 100 degrees. You can spread the fruit out on a screen for three days, turning them over halfway through. Make sure that you bring them inside at night to avoid insects, but this is a very simple way to dry fruit.
If you live in a climate that is not suitable for drying fruit outside, consider using oven drying. Spread cheesecloth over your oven racks and then place the fruit on top of them. Preheat your oven to 145 degrees, while keeping the door slightly open to allow steam to escape. Most fruits should be discharged from 4 hours onwards up to half a day, depending on the fruit concerned. Check the fruit periodically by tasting a piece of fruit to see if it is ready.
Better still, you can also use a food dehydrator to dry the fruit. There are many inexpensive food dehydrators designed to be used at home. Commonly the dehydrator consists of trays stacked upon one another. All you need to do is to place the fruit slices evenly on the trays and switch on the machine. Many models have adjustable thermostat for you to choose the appropriate temperature for drying. As usual, check the fruit periodically to see if it is dried.
Once it is dried, it is done! It is ready to be enjoyed. One last thing is that if you are planning to store your fruit for long time, you may also want to pasteurize it. When your fruit is perfectly dry, you can either freeze it in a deep freezer for a few days, or heat it up to 175 degrees in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. This can help you reserve the fruit for longer.
So take some time and learn more about drying out your fruit. This is a safe and easy food experiment to try at home!