Drying fruits at home is the best way to ensure that they don’t have any unhealthy ingredients. We will tell you the easy ways to make your own dried fruits at home. And no, you don’t need the sun to do the drying for you!
Did you know that the earliest recorded mention of dried fruits can be found in the Mesopotamian tablets dated back to about 1700 B.C.? If that fact is not enough to blow your mind off, that is possibly also when the oldest known recipes were written on.
Way, way back before, these fruits were dried with traditional methods, these fruits were either sun-dried or dehydrated in wind tunnels. Back then these fruits that were dried traditionally, they were by no means infused with any form of sweetener like sucrose solution. And these dehydrated fruits contained exceptionally low moisture content… which made them part of a long history of food safety.
With high drying and processing temperatures, the innate low pH of the fruit, the low moisture content, and the existence of the natural anti-microbial compounds in the fruits that were laid out to dry, made them an extraordinarily great as a staple food. It is no wonder these dried fruits have been long used as a vitamin and mineral source for people. There are records of the Persian and Arab cultures savoring dried apricots more than a thousand years ago. Meanwhile in the 19th century, dried berries such as cherries and cranberries were added in pemmican (a type of survival food made with a mixture of tallow and dried meat) in North America—it was said to help people to sustain themselves during long trips then.
Whether dried fruits were baked in bread, added to trail mix, or eaten all on their own, this super food is undeniably popular around the world. Just how incredible is that?
How you can make your own dried fruits... without drying them in the sun!
Now if you look around your average grocery stores, you can spot a section that sells loads of dried fruits. In the bakery, you can find cakes, cookies, and breads that are filled with dried fruits. And if you are thinking about all the work you have to do by spreading your own fruits out in the sun to let them dry, only to find out it rains later, do not worry! There are actually really quick and no-fuss options. Here are some easy ways to make your own dried fruits.
Air fryers are a popular gadget in the kitchen of late due to their absolute convenience and versatility for everyone to enjoy quick and delicious meals. Do not be fooled by its name where you think it is only about frying. In fact, frying is only one of the many things that you use it for. Surprise, you can use an air fryer to bake cakes, cookies, brownies, French toasts and not just limited to Portuguese Egg Tarts! You can even use to roast meat. Think it stops there? Nope. It is also a gadget you can use to dry fruits—you just have to make it work as a dehydrator!
Like always, there are some things you will have to consider first before using the air fryer for drying your fruits. Slice your fruits thinly using a fruit cutter—making sure that your fruits are sliced evenly helps them to dehydrate evenly and quickly in the air fryer. (Speaking of slicing fruits to make sure they all dry evenly; we have an article on Why Vegetables are cut into Different Shapes—you can read that to find out how they affect your cooking.) Now when your fruit slices are thinner, the faster they will dehydrate in the air fryer. You also got to be sure then when placing them into the air fryer, you don’t want to have the fruits stacked on top of each other. Otherwise, in doing so, you will end up with fruits dehydrated from the sides only, and you end up soft and chewy chunks in the fruits’ centre.
Since the whole point of dehydrating the fruits is to simply remove the majority of the water content present, the air fryer is a great solution. Now while some air fryer models come with a dehydrator setting, you can still easily use a regular air fryer to dry your fruits. To dry your fruits using an air fryer, have the temperature set much lower than normal, about 52°C to 65°C (definitely no higher than 93°C, please love yourself and do not attempt this at all). Then all you have to do is wait for the timer to go off. When they are done, enjoy! Not only do these dried fruits have a long shelf life without getting spoiled, but they also make for a healthy snack curbing your sweet cravings too.
Ah, yes. The oven is a trusty kitchen equipment even for tasks like this, you can certainly count on your oven to dry your fruits.
Go on ahead and choose ripe but not overly ripe fruits. Fruits with tough skin such as apples, bananas, mangoes, and such should be first peeled before you get them ready to dry. You can slice the fruits into 1/8-inch slices. Fruits that are already small like berries, grapes, and blackcurrants do not need any more slicing than they should, let them be left whole.
What you want to do is get a rimmed sheet pan and line it with parchment paper. Place your fruits on it, leaving a bit of space between each piece of fruit. Pop the pan into the oven and bake the fruits at 93°C. Do stir it every 30 minutes or so until the fruits get dry and appear to have a chewy-like texture. Depending on the fruit’s water content, the drying process can take anywhere from three to six hours. When you see that the fruit is dried to your preference, that is when you can turn off the oven and open the door all the way for the fruits to cool down. After about 20 minutes, you can choose to close the over door and let the fruits stay for another few hours, or even overnight in the oven. A good general rule to follow is if your fruits still seem soft or sticky, they need to continue to dehydrate. If the fruits are hard and crunchy, then they are fully dehydrated!
Then they are pretty much ready for consumption! For storage, you can keep them in airtight containers. The great thing about storing dried fruits is that they do not require the refrigerator or freezer to stay fresh. However way you plan to eat them, that is up to you. Toss it into your cereals, granolas, waffles, muffins, or cakes, or just enjoy them as they are!
Basically, the oven’s cousin, the microwave works just fine for drying fruits. And we are here to encourage you to use your microwave creatively, and this is one of the ways you can make use of it. Instead of spending all your cash on the packages of unsweetened dried mango from stores (those can be expensive sometimes!), you can just easily dehydrate fruits in the microwave.
So, start off by cutting your fruits into thin slices. It is not necessary to use a mandoline, but if you are looking for consistency, go ahead and use just that for even fruit slices. Note that the thinner pieces can get stuck to the microwave surface, and if your fruit pieces are cut too thick, they might end up squishier and gummier when they are out of the microwave. In other words, you want thin slices, but don’t slice them too thin.
Since you will be placing your fruits directly onto the rotating plate of the microwave, give a wash, and then dry it for hygienic purposes. Then place your fruit slices onto the microwave plate. Remember not to place the fruit pieces too close to each other. Giving them an inch or two lets them have some breathing room, then set the microwave timer to 30 minutes in the “defrost” setting. This is especially important! You don’t want to end up with black fruits!
After 30 minutes later, go check the fruits and flip them, and be careful when you do so as they are hot. The fruits might be done drying, or it could use some extra minutes if you find them still moist—that is dependent on how much water content your fruits have. Once the fruits have dried to the consistency you want, move them over to a cooling rack before you dig in or store them.
More Pro Tips for you to be the Best Home-baker & Chef.
We know you are a passionate person capable of coming up with your own methods of being comfortable in your baking and culinary journey. On the flip side, it’s possible that you’re actively looking for suggestions and inspiration. If that’s the case, then hopefully something in this article makes a difference. Got some questions that need to be answered? Let us know by sending us a message on Instagram or Facebook and be sure to follow along if you don’t already! For reading to the end, here is a lovely Mixed Fruit Cheesecake recipe that uses dried fruits. Check out what else we have in store for you. Happy baking!