Dehydrating fruit is ideal for storing nutritious snacks without having to rely on your freezer (because freezers require electricity).
However, to make these excellent snacks last a long time, you’ll need a food dehydrator and a quality vacuum sealer.
You’ll also learn the science of packaging.
Fortunately, the overall process of dehydrating fruit is fairly straightforward.
How To Dehydrate Fruit
Ideally, dehydrating fruit should be performed during the peak season for your target fruit.
That means you’ll be dehydrating different fruits at different times of the year.
For instance, oranges, strawberries, and apricots all have different peak seasons.
Personally, this is good news to me, as I get to enjoy different peak fruits throughout the year.
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The Ideal Dehydrating Temperature
A good dehydrating fruit temperature is roughly between 125 – 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any temperature above this range will cause the skin of some fruits to become very hard or crusty.
This hardened layer then creates a barrier and prevents the insides of the fruit from drying properly. So it’s recommended that you keep in mind that dehydrating is a slow process.
It takes time and should not be rushed.
The Preparation Stage
Preparation is key to successful dehydrating.
First, slice the fruit carefully. The thickness of the slices has an effect on the end results.
If slices are too thick then they may not achieve full dehydration no matter how long you leave the slices in the dehydrator. Plus, you will need to increase the drying time for thicker fruits.
The thinner the slices of the fruits being dried, the quicker will be the drying time.
thick thin you want your fruit to be and it’s important to keep them as consistent as possible.
The thickness consistency of individual slices will provide uniform drying of that specific fruit piece and consistency of thickness between fruit slices allows for the entire batch to dry evenly.
In order to get the nearly perfect consistency, I recommend a good Madeline slicer. A slicer such as this makes the dehydrating prep work a breeze.
Once my fruit is sliced properly, I like to run cold water to run over the slices for several seconds. This helps to remove any slight lumps and makes the surface just a little bit smoother.
For a few fruits, such as apples, strawberries, and bananas, you should spray the slices with lemon juice.
There are two different reasons why lemon juice is sprayed:
- To prevent the fruits from ugly browning
- To avoid bacterial growth while in the drying process
Now take all the fruit slices and lay them out on the drying rack.
You don’t want any overlap (this will negatively affect the drying process).
When It’s Done
Now that you’ve prepped your fruit slices, it’s time to put them into your dehydrator.
Use the 125 – 135 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range and these approximate drying times, to help get you started:
- Apples – 7 – 15 hours
- Bananas – 6 – 10 hours
- Cherries – 13 – 21 hours
- Cranberries – 10 – 12 hours
- Grapes – 22 – 30 hours
- Kiwi – 7 – 15 hours
- Pineapple – 10 – 18 hours
- Strawberries – 7 – 15 hours
Obviously, these ranges are quite wide. But that’s because each dehydrator, location, and fruit will be different for everyone.
You can safely set it and forget it until you reach the lower end of the time range. At that point, you’ll want to periodically check up on the slices.
So when are they “done”? It’s really a personal preference.
The dryer the fruit is, the longer it will last in storage so if building your food stockpile is your main objective then the dehydrated fruit should be drier, harder, and crisp.
If you plan to eat the fruit or add it to a party mix for the upcoming weekend…we’ll you might want to take them off when they still have a little bit of moisture left to them.
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A Few Extra Dehydrating Fruit Tips
- Choose mature fruits.
- They tend to have higher nutritional value and are rich in sugars. But, avoid ones that have bruises or are overripe.
- Before drying fruit, you have to wash and rinse it properly.
- You’ll want to remove any wax or pesticides on the fruit.
- Cut the fruits into small pieces for the best results.
- About 1/8 of an inch is what I recommend.
- Expect the fruits to be pliable when done.
- You can easily bend or tear it apart but do not expect it to snap.
A Few Common Factors That Can Affect Results
- Dehydrator Model
- The model of food dehydrator can sometimes affect the results. Older models might not give you the outcome you prefer. Newer models are equipped with extra features that give you more control which might improve your overall results.
- Humidity will most definitely affect your results. High humidity will extend the drying time while low humidity will reduce it.
- Amount of fruit slices in the dehydrator
- Not all dehydrators are capable of lots of fruit. Do not be tempted to cram more slices in than what you’re dehydrated it’s designed for
- The lower the temperature, the longer it will take. Some people recommend using a reduced temperature range of 105-110 degrees in order to help preserve more of the fruit’s natural nutrients and enzymes.
- The Nature of the Fruit
- All fruits and different varieties of fruits will dry a little bit differently.
- More Than One Kind Of Fruit
- Mixing and matching different fruits within the dehydrator will create unique flavors. Give it a try.
Adding dehydrated fruit to your family’s emergency food stockpile is both easy and smart.
Just follow the directions and you’ll have a nice stash of fruit for short-term or long-term survival scenarios.
Well, that’s about all the advice I can think of for fruit dehydration. Is there anything I missed? Do you have any of your own techniques or methods you care to share?
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