NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Drying Fruits

Drying Fruits


          Drying is a creative way to preserve foods and use home-grown fruit, extra produce such as ripe bananas or at this time of year, an abundant apple crop.

          Thoroughly wash and clean fruits to remove dirt or spray. Sort out any fruit that shows decay, bruises or mold as such defects can affect all the foods being dried.

          Pretreating fruits prior to drying is highly recommended. Pretreating helps keep light-colored fruits from darkening during drying and storage and it speeds the drying of fruits with tough skins, such as grapes and cherries.

          Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant that keeps fruit from darkening and enhances destruction of bacteria during drying. Pure crystals usually are available at supermarkets and drug stores. Stir 2 1/2 tablespoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals into one quart of cold water. For smaller batches prepare a solution using 3 3/4 teaspoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals per 2 cups of cold water.

           Vitamin C tablets can also be crushed and used (six 500 milligram tablets equal 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid). One quart of solution treats about 10 quarts of cut fruit. Cut peeled fruit directly into the ascorbic acid solution. Soak for 10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and your fruit is ready to dehydrate.

          Lemon juice may also be used as anti-darkening and antimicrobial pretreatments.  Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cold water (i.e., 1 cup lemon juice and 1 cup water). Slice the peeled fruit directly into the citric acid or lemon juice solution. Allow to soak 10 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and dehydrate. Citric acid is often available in the canning section of the supermarket.

          Fruits such as grapes, prunes, small dark plums, cherries, figs and firm berries have tough skins with a wax-like coating. To allow inside moisture to evaporate, crack or "check" skins before drying whole fruits. To crack skins, dip fruit in briskly boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then dip in very cold water. Drain on absorbent towels before placing on drying trays.

          When arranging pretreated fruits on drying trays in single layers, place the pit cavity up.  Dry at 140 degrees F (60°C) in an oven or dehydrator. The length of time needed to dry fruits will depend on the size of the pieces being dried, humidity and the amount of air circulation in the dehydrator or oven. Thinner slices and smaller pieces will dry more quickly than larger, thicker pieces or whole fruits. Also, products will generally dry more quickly in convection ovens or electric dehydrators than in conventional ovens. At a drying temperature of 140 degrees F, plan on about 6 hours for thin apple slices to 36 hours for peach halves. If possible, stir food and turn large pieces over every 3 to 4 hours during the drying period. Fruits can scorch easily toward the end of drying.

          Dried fruits should be leathery and pliable. To test foods for dryness, remove a few pieces and let cool to room temperature. When warm or hot, fruits seem more soft, moist and pliable than they actually are.

          Pack cooled, dried foods in small amounts in dry, scalded glass jars (preferably dark) or in moisture- and vapor proof freezer containers, boxes or bags.. Store in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator or freezer. Properly stored, dried fruits keep well for six to 12 months. Discard any foods that have off odors or show signs of mold.  

          Dried fruits are wonderful to snack on as it but can also be reconstituted for use in a cooked dish, such as a pie.  Place dried fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until tender and liquid is absorbed (one hour or longer). Thinly sliced fruits may not require soaking before using in cooked dishes.


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