In continuing with adding fruit to our food storage, I'd like to go over a couple methods of preserving fruit through drying. Dried fruit is not only a fun snack, but is also a nice addition to salads, baked goods or breakfast foods like cereal or granola. Essentially, it will add a nice zing of flavor and enhance just about any dish.
There are several methods of drying. If you have a food dehydrator, that really makes the process easy! I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable these small appliances are. I might have to think about these as an option in the future. Follow the instructions for your dehydrator. The times and temperatures really depends on what fruit you're drying and how large the slices of fruit are. To help simplify the process, there are instructions for different fruits here.
If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can still dry fruit for your storage! Last year, I featured how I used over a dozen pounds of apples in a few days and one of the ways I processed the fruit was by drying it in my oven.
When drying fruit, you do have to treat it in an absorbic acid solution to avoid discoloration. I used Fruit Fresh and used about 2-3 teaspoons in a quart of water and left the fruit submerged for at least 10 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels, then lay out on a layer of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
We wanted to have crisp dried apples, that were more like apple chips, so I sprinkled mine with a bit of cinnamon sugar and baked them for 10-12 hours at 170 degrees, the lowest my oven will go, while periodically opening the oven to allow moisture to escape and the temperature to be reduced a bit. If you want your dried fruit more pliable, bake for anywhere from 5-7 hours. After you feel the fruit is dried to your tastes, turn the oven off, open the door and leave the fruit to cool in the oven.
Dried fruit should be conditioned prior to storing in long-term containers. What this means is simply enclosing the fruit in a large, well ventilated container and allowing any moisture left in thicker slices of fruit to be redistributed into other pieces. A tupperware container is a good option. Leave the fruit in the container for 4-10 days and shake the fruit each day. After that time, you can transfer the fruit into a more long-term container.
When storing dried fruit, be careful to keep it away from any sources of moisture. Great options for storage include containers with airtight fittings, like the Snapware containers, vacuum sealed bags, or even tight fitting plastic freezer containers. Store and enjoy!
Thanks to the National Center for Food Preservation for some of this info!