DIY: Dried Fruit

By on October 4, 2012

Humans have been drying fruits for long term for thousands of years and for good reason. The combination of nutritional value and enjoyable taste is the reason dried fruits have been popularly considered a healthy food for millennia.

Dried fruits are naturally resistant to spoiling. They are easy to store and transport as they weigh a fraction of what a fresh fruits weigh and take up minimal storage space. Dried fruits are a nutritious, low cost way to increase the amount of fruit in your daily diet. Below are a few basic nutritional facts on dried fruits:

-Dried fruits are practically devoid of fat, trans-fats, saturated fat and cholesterol.

-Dried fruits have extremely low sodium content.

-Dried fruits are high in dietary fiber and potassium. On a per serving basis (1/4 cup) dried fruits are among the top 50 contributors of these nutrients among all foods in the American diet.

-Dried fruits provide essential nutrients that are otherwise low in today’s diets, such as vitamin A (apricots and peaches), calcium (figs), vitamin K (dried plums), iron, and copper.

One of the only drawbacks to dried fruit is that unfortunately, we have tried to improve on it.  Aside from some health food stores, most dried fruits commercially available are infused with added sugar.  These “store bought” brands are also may contain Sulfur Dioxide.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is used in production of most light colored fruits in order to counteract natural reactions that would cause them to brown and lose their appealing light color.  SO2 is completely safe by most people according to the FDA, but it can cause allergic reactions to some people and it can bring on an asthma attack.

Most people would never think to do it, but you can still dry your own fruit, and while it takes time it is really a simple process.

How to make your own dried fruit:

Ingredients:

-Fruit of your choice
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup water

Special equipment needed:

-Cheesecloth
-Thermometer
-Mandolin Slicer

Directions

  1. Remove oven racks; preheat oven to 145ºF.
  2. Prep fruit: wash thoroughly, and slice into uniform pieces. Remove any seeds, pits, or stems. I cut small fruits like berries or grapes in half, and larger fruits like apples or peaches into quarter-inch rings or slices. This is where your mandolin slicer comes in quite handy as you can slice through all of your fruits in a matter of minutes.  The thinner you slice the fruit, the quicker it will dry.
  3. Mix lemon and water together. Then dip fruit slices into this mixture. The acid in the lemons helps preserve the natural color of the fruit.
  4. Cover the removed oven racks with cheesecloth and place the sliced fruit in a single layer onto the covered oven racks. Carefully place the racks back in the oven.
  5. Be sure to leave the oven door slightly ajar. This will allow steam escape while drying the fruit.
  6. Bake fruit anywhere from 4 to 12 hours
  7.  Rotate the racks while baking to ensure that the fruit dries evenly.
  8.  Check the temperature regularly to make sure that your oven doesn’t vary too widely in temperature.
  9. The fruit will look dry and/or leathery when done. (Taste testing is a must!)
  10. Transfer finished fruit in an airtight container or bag, and store in a cool, dry place.
  11. Enjoy!

 

*If you have this skill on hand but don’t have power or gas to run your oven, you can still dry your fruit provided that you have a hot sunny day.

Simply follow the steps above but place the racks inside your car (preferably on the dash).  This will more than likely take a lot longer than the oven method, but it is beneficial in a grid down situation or even when you are camping.

Regardless of whether you are drying your own fruit for long term food storage or simply to use as a healthy snack for yourself, drying fruit is a fun and handy skill to have.



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'Above Average' Joe

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15 Comments

  1. The Concrete Fairy

    Googling Sulfur Dioxide is creepy, it’s all kinds of toxic. “Sulfur Dioxide reaction in some people is headache, anxiety and general discomfort.” I don’t have a “serious” reaction to it, not migraines or breathing problems, but it makes me moody and irritable, quite like PMS. I also have a non-painful but very irritating feeling of constriction, like I’m wearing clothes that are too tight. It’s worth knowing what a low grade reaction looks like, in a bad situation, irritable and uncomfortable might be one thing too many to cope with. I only eat commercial fruit if I know I’m in a place and time when I can deal with the reactions.

    • Joe

      Joe

      Wow, sorry to hear that you have that reaction! Thank you for sharing your reactions to SO2, hopefully if anyone else has the same symptoms this will help them realize the cause. So have you tried drying your own fruits and vegetables?

      • Varian Wrynn

        I bought a cheap dehydrator off Amazon and love it – been drying lots of fruit for the last couple years. After drying, I put in desiccant packs and vacuum seal it with a Food Saver. So far, fruit I dehydrated 18 months ago is still good.

      • The Concrete Fairy

        Yes, I dry lots of things. I have a dehydrator and I have prices I watch for, anything that hits my price gets dehydrated and stored. Fruit I sometimes just eat plain, sometimes cook it in oatmeal. Veggies I make excellent stew with. A skill well worth learning :) And like the other poster below, I also Food Saver it for storage. Dehydrator and Food Saver were 2 of my best purchases. I’m looking for parts to build a solar dehydrator, lots of sunshine here. My solar cooker gets too hot for dehydrating things (burns them), so I need to make a different design to make it work. I know what I want to do, just looking for parts now.

    • dtwowhtwow

      Yes it is nasty stuff! I love dried fruit but cannot consume any store bought stuff because most or all contain SO2. It gives me an asthma type reaction whenever I consume it.

  2. Varian Wrynn

    140F in the car is do-able in AZ :)

    OBTW – FDA says Aspartame and Fluoride are safe too.

  3. David Perkins

    Anything the FDA says should be “suspect!”

    They promote anything that profits them… with NO regard for your well being!

    MilRet

    • KG

      That’s for SURE!!! Do not trust man made anything – it is only for profit!!! God makes food for health!!!

  4. Tammy

    Does anyone know how long the fruit will last if there are no preservatives in it?

    • Joe

      Joe

      Good question, I believe if it is properly stored it will last up to 18 months. Does anyone else have more to add to it? or let me know if I am wrong
      Joe

    • KG

      About 1-2 weeks once picked. Avocados I understand don’t ripen till picked. BTW if you have fruit trees & want to keep the birds from getting to things before you do, cut mylar ballons in strips & wrap the strips on different branches. The wind blowing through the strips spooks the birds away.

  5. David O

    i still have to get a dehydrator, but love my Food Saver vacuum sealer. The F.D.A. also says that carbon dioxide is a poison. lol

  6. Kris

    You can dry just about anything- not just fruit! Tomatoes, celery (I dry the leaves after chopping them up- not so sure about the woody ribs- EXCELLENT for flavoring!) bell peppers cut in thin strips, carrots, potatoes using a mandoline into very thin scallops. Arizona sunshine does it for me no oven needed.
    What I DO have a problem with is mold! I dry my foods bone dry. I keep the house clean but I fear the mold spores come from the air or wind. Is there anything I can add to the jars of dried foods, or any tricks to preventing mold growth?

    • Shauna R.

      I’m not too sure if it applies here, but I do know that mold and mildew cannot survive in full spectrum light. You may also consider finding a way to use 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide in your process somewhere. Good Luck! Let me know if you figure it out.:)

  7. kbt

    I know it’s part of your natural process to use sunshine instead of the oven, but you may have less of a mold problem is you use the oven.

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