Cooking School

How to dry fruit

By: Lauren McPhillips

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©

Cooking School

How to dry fruit

By: Lauren McPhillips
Baking a pie or looking for a healthy snack? Think twice the next time you head to the grocery store for dried fruit. Learning how to dry fruit is easy and it's something you can do at home by yourself.

You'll also know that no sugars or preservatives have been added to your fruit. Plus, dried fruit can be stored in freezer bags and used throughout the year, saving you a lot of money when baking with out-of-season fruits.

From sun drying to oven drying to using a dehydrator, drying fruit is a relatively easy process, though it can take up to three days.

Once it's done, however, you're left with a healthy snack that has all the nutrients still intact thanks to heating at low temperatures. 

Ready to learn how to dry fruit at home? There are three different ways you can approach the process, each with their own benefits and drying times. The preparation for each process is the same, so follow these steps first:

1. When choosing fruit, whether it be apricots or blueberries, make sure all fruit is ripe, but not overly so.

2. For fruits with skins, wash, peel and cut in uniform slices. For fruits such as raspberries and blackberries, wash thoroughly and dry whole.

3. Certain fruits like apples and pears are known to oxidize quickly and turn brown in colour; simply soak in a citrus juice for five minutes before beginning the drying process.

4. Add any extra flavours you want at this point, like cinnamon sprinkled over apples or honey drizzled on strawberries.

How to dry fruit: 3 methods

Sun drying fruits: 
If the weather is hot and the humidity is low, try sun drying. Though it takes a bit longer than the other methods, it's the most environmentally friendly option as it uses the sun's rays rather than electrical energy. 

1. Take the prepared fruit and place evenly spaced on a clean screen. Take the screen outdoors into a sunny spot and leave the screen uncovered.

2. Make sure you bring the screen inside at night and leave on the countertop, covered.

3. Dry outside for approximately three days, turning the fruit once on the second day. Don't allow the fruit to get crunchy; it should have a chewy texture once it's done.

Oven drying fruit

Though the oven drying process doesn't use renewable energy, it's much quicker than the sun drying method and you don't need to rely on consecutive hot, sunny days. This method does require you to leave the oven on for a good portion of the day, however, so make sure you choose a time when you don't have to leave the house. 

1. Place sliced and whole fruit over cheesecloth on wire racks in the oven. Make sure the fruit is evenly spaced so that it dries at the same pace.

2. Set the oven to 200 and bake for eight to 12 hours. 

3. Do not increase the heat to make them dry faster. Doing so will actually bake the fruit and make it crunchy.

Dehydrating fruit

This method is the most popular and doesn't require use of the oven for an entire day, so you're free to prepare other meals at the same time. Every dehydrator is different so make sure you keep a note of how long each type of fruit takes to dry so you know for the next batch.

1. Place fruit on dehydrator trays; avoid overlapping for an even drying process.

2. Turn on the dehydrator and let dry for eight to 12 hours (or however long the dehydrator's manual estimates).

3. Once fruit is dry, let it cool for 40 to 50 minutes before packaging or using for baking.

Once you know how to dry fruit, you'll find yourself grateful you took the time to learn and ready to find all kinds of ways to incorporate dried fruits into meals, snacks and desserts.

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Cooking School

How to dry fruit