Dried fruit makes a great snack that keeps for a long time. Although a small amount of nutritional value is lost when drying, the advantages of taking up less space, not requiring electricity to keep preserved like frozen fruit does and lasting up to a year seem to outweigh the loss of a small amount of vitamins C and A and the B family of vitamins.
Many fruits discolor or lose flavor when dried unless they are pre-treated. Commercially dehydrated fruit is pre-treated with potassium sulfate prior to drying, but there’s no need to use chemicals for this. A simple mixture of 1 part citrus juice to 4 parts water makes a good pre-soak which preserves the color and enhances the flavor of most fruits. Also, vitamin C tablets can be crushed and mixed with water and used as a pre-soak. See the pre-soak recipes below.
Select fruit which is fresh and ripe, but not overripe. Cut out any bad spots to keep the entire batch from spoiling and then cut into slices of uniform size. Slices about ¼ inch thick work well. Apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, grapes (homemade raisins!), plums (prunes!) and blueberries all make wonderful dried snacks in your dehydrator.
Two Great Pre-Soak Recipes for Drying Fruit:
Citrus juice and water: Mix lemon or lime juice with water in a 1 to 4 ratio. Soak sliced fruits for 10 minutes, then allow to dry for 10 minutes on paper towels.
Citric acid (vitamin C): Add 1 teaspoon of citric acid crystals to 1 quart of cold water and stir to dissolve. Soak sliced fruit for 10 minutes, then allow to dry for 10 minutes on paper towels.
How To Dry Fruit
Here is a simple dehydrating process for drying fruit:
Step 1. Clean and slice your fruit into ¼ inch segments. Prepare one of the pre-soaks above and pre-treat your fruit.
Step 2. Arrange fruit slices in a single layer on the dehydrator and dry until no moisture is released when the slices are firmly squeezed between thumb and forefinger.
Apples are especially good when dried. Cut them into ¼ inch slices, rings or chunks or use a mandoline to slice thinly for crispy apple chips. Pre-soak as above, or steam for 3-4 minutes and then rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to drain on paper towels for 10 minutes and then dry as above.
Drying Blueberries, Grapes or Prune Plums
These won’t dry well unless their skins have been punctured so that the very moist insides are exposed to the air of the dehydrator. Blanching accomplishes this quickly. Simply dip them into fully boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds and then plunge immediately into ice water. Spread onto paper towels to dry for at least 10 minutes. Arrange in a single layer in your dehydrator and dry.