Dried fruit snacks are healthy and tasty, but often expensive. You can prepare your own dried fruit snacks at home using your oven. This can be time-consuming, but it can also be fun. You can get professional food dehydrators at kitchen stores, but they aren't cheap and your oven can handle more fruit at one time.
1. Choosing what fruit and how much to buy:
- The best fruits for dehydrating are bananas, apples, peaches, apricots, grapes, plums, pears, and cherries. Be sure that the fruit you pick is completely ripe and not bruised or blemished at all to ensure the best taste.
- A general rule of thumb is that 25 pounds of fresh fruit will yield 5 pounds of dried fruit. This should help you decide how much to buy.
2. Preparing the fruit for drying:
- Thoroughly wash the fruit.
- The only fruits listed above that need to be peeled are the bananas, peaches, and pears. It is up to you whether to peel the others or not. Be sure to core the apples, pit the cherries, and cut the apricots in half and remove the pits.
- The light-colored fruits (like apples and bananas) should be doused in lemon juice so they don't turn dark brown in the oven.
- Make sure you cut the larger fruit up uniformly, so they are as near to the same size as possible. This helps them dry at the same rate in the oven.
- If you are leaving cherries and grapes whole, you need to make a small slice in each of them to let the steam out.
3. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees.
4. Oven drying the fruit -
- Once the fruit is prepared, place it in single layers on cookie sheets. You can also cover your oven racks with cheesecloth and lay the fruit directly on that.
- Leave the oven door open a couple of inches. This is to allow the steam from the fruit to escape and air to circulate into the oven.
- The fruit should dry anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. Test its "doneness" by pulling out a few pieces and letting them cool. When the fruit is done it should feel pliable and dry.
5. Let the fruit cool and then store it in zip-loc plastic bags or other airtight containers. Keep the containers in a cool, dry place.
Your homemade dry fruit should be eaten relatively quickly, since there are no preservatives in this recipe.