As soon as summer comes with its fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants, people start enjoying a more healthy diet.
During fall, all this sweet and juicy fruit are gone, but there is an alternative: harvest and store them for winter. That is exactly what animals do and it works great for them.
You have three options to choose from when wanting to taste fruit: can, freeze, or dry. Today we are going to discuss about how you can turn summer’s freshest fruit into something that you can like all year-round. This will look to you like nature’s candy. Interestingly enough, this does not require any special procedure, such as using a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet. What you need are the following things: an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners, and sheet pans or pizza screens. Afterwards simply heat the fruit at a low temperature in order to allow the water to evaporate, this way you will significantly reduce the chances for bacterial growth.
How to Dry Your Own Fruits
Prep your fruit
Choose ripe or just overly ripe fruits and berries
Wash in cold water
Remove any blemishes
Remove any pits or stones from stone fruits
Remove any stems from berries
Cut and slice fruits evenly so that they will dry within the same time frame
(Optional) Remove the skins
Various fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, and apples, dry better if the skin has been peeled. Score the bottom of each piece of fruit by making a shallow “x” with a paring knife. Bunk into boiling water for 30 seconds. Afterwards move everything to a basin filled with ice water. The skins should come off easily.
In order to maintain the fruit looking fresh and pretty, you can soak them in lemon juice and water for 10 minutes, drain and blot dry with a towel.
To the Oven
Preheat the oven to 130-160 degrees F. Use a lower temperature for thin sliced fruits such as apples or peaches. Strawberries and other whole berries love the higher heat.
Place parchment paper onto sheet pans. Arrange fruit in a single layer, and do not let pieces to touch. Top fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner to keep them from curling up as they dry.
Place fruit into the oven and rotate pans every 2 hours.
How do you know if it’s ready? Dried fruit should feel like leather but still be pliable.
General Cooking Time
As soon as the fruit are done, take them out of the oven. Afterwards place them in glass or plastic containers to “cure”. If you leave the container open for 4-5 days, all the moister left from the drying process would have evaporated. Try to not forget to shake the container every day or so in order to constantly move the fruit around.
Seal the containers after 5 days and enjoy tasty dried fruit until next summer, for about 10 months.
Look at this DIY fruit strips.
Simple Fruit Strip Recipe
Note: Nutrition info will vary
Mix 2 cups of sliced fruits and berries into a saucepan with one cup of water. In order for the fruit to get soft, cook them over medium heat until you can see them changing. Take the fruit from heat and let them cool to typical room temperature. Puree the cooked fruit with 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Spread onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Dry at 140 degrees for 5-6 hours. If fruit feels sticky after 6 hours continue to dry an additional hour. Use kitchen shears to cut into desired shapes.
Tip: Save tomato skins
Don’t waste any food. Dry the tomato skins and use them as toppings for pizza or other appetizers such as crostini and salads. Dried tomato skins can even be added to spice blends. Don’t forget to cover the skins with parchment paper or a pizza screen in order to prevent them from curling up during the process. Bake at 150 degrees for 1-2 hours.
Tip #2: Get the holiday spirit early
If you love holidays as much as we do, you could dry slices of oranges and store them in a sealed container until then. When Christmas comes, use the slices as tree decorations.
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