Drying Fruit by Oven or
Sun with DIY Plans for a Homemade Fruit Dryer
Drying fruit and drying
tomatoes. Instructions for solar drying and oven drying plus plans to
build your own homemade fruit dryer.
Introduction to Drying Fruit
Drying food such as fruit and
vegetables to keep for later use is
one of the oldest and most simple ways of preserving food. So when you
have a glut of your fruit this season think about drying them as well
as bottling and making jams
Dried fruit can easily be reconstituted with boiling water and left to
stand overnight. In the morning they can then be stewed and served with
for breakfast, or you can dry your fruit for trails and camping.
The only downside to drying fruit and vegetables is that you can really
only dry small
quantities at a time.
Equipment for Drying Fruit
Drying fruit equipment is very
simple as you can see below. There really isn't anything
here that you couldn't find in your kitchen.
Drying Fruit Trays:
slatted wooden tray or some non-ferrous cake racks are suitable. If you
are drying the fruit in the oven, the oven shelves can be used.
Cloth: A few pieces
of muslin or cheesecloth will be needed to come between the fruit and
the trays. The more open-weaved the cloth is, the better it is for
air-circulation to occur.
Heat and Air: The
fruit will need to be dried in hot, well-ventilated conditions. If this
does not occur you run the risk of you fruit spoiling with mold.
Drying Fruit in the Sun
Of course the sun is what our ancestors
used before modern conveniences and it works well as long as you take
some things into consideration. Firstly, for sun drying fruit, make
sure that your fruit is
covered with muslin or cheesecloth so that you don't have flies laying
their eggs in the fruit.
Secondly, when sun drying
only dry the fruit on
sunny days, that don't have a chance of a downpour of rain. Summer is
by far the best time of year to do this.
Lastly, when sun drying fruit,
always bring your
fruit inside at night, and replace it outside in the morning.
A novel way of drying fruit. Persimmons drying from a balcony
Drying Fruit in an Oven
You can use your oven to dry fruit.
Most types of ovens are fine for oven fruit drying; electric,
gas will all work.
The ideal temperature you should be
aiming for is between 49°C
(120°F) and 66°C (150°F). With such a wide temperature available, most
fruit drying ends successfully.
Drying Fruit in Front of the Fireplace
have had fun this winter spending time peeling and coring apples,
slicing them into rings and then threading them on a bamboo stick and
then drying them in front of the fireplace.
place the apple slices in lemon water while I am peeling them all, so
they don't turn brown while waiting. If the rings aren't completely dry
the first night, I just place them back in front of the fireplace a
second night. It never takes more than 2 nights to dry, and they are
still lovely and chewy - just how I like them!
Drying apple rings in front of
Drying Different Fruit
To prepare stone fruit for drying, such
as peaches and apricots they
must be cut in half and then remove the stones. Lie them down, cut side
up on the trays, being careful that they are not touching to allow
Drying Figs. Figs
are not cut,
but left whole. Place them bottoms down on the trays. They can be
flattened with the palm of one's hand as they start to dry, pressing
them flat from the center down.
Drying Grapes. Grapes
can be dried
either on the bunch or off, depending on what taste you want to
achieve. If you remove all the grapes from the stalks you will end up
with raisins or sultanas that are slightly more dry than those you can
If you leave the grapes on the stalks
and dry them on the bunches, you will end up with a very yummy grape
that is almost alcoholic in taste.
With apples they
need to be peeled and cored, and then sliced into rings. Don't worry
about your apple rings turning brown. This is perfectly normal and is
only a visual problem, not a problem with the drying process. The only
reason why you see snow-white apple rings in commercial sales is
because they have been heavily doused with sulphur-dioxide.
Italian tomatoes drying in the sun
dried in the open sun for centuries in Italy. Packed with
flavor and taste, if they are dried correctly they are great to use in
salads and Italian dishes. Successfully dried tomatoes will still be
fairly soft, those not so will be like shoe leather and about as
interesting to taste!
Choose firm ripe Roma
tomatoes as these are not as watery as other tomato varieties. Dip the
tomatoes in boiling water and then ice water and then dry, core and
slice lengthways. Sprinkle with a little salt. Place on racks
covered with muslin and protect from insects. Dry over several
consecutive days on a summers day where the temperatures are about 29°C
/85°F. with a relatively low humidity. You will know when they are dry
when they are slightly chewy before the leather stage!
Place in a freezer for 48
hours to kill any insect eggs that might have
gotten into your tomatoes. The pack in bottles of olive oil.
Tips for Drying Fruit Successfully
The best tip in the drying fruit
process is to make sure that you
only use the
fruit that has been tree-ripened. Discard any fruit that has been eaten
or stung by insects. Any fruit that is overripe will not dry
Make sure that all drying racks are
covered with your cloth of choice and place your fruit in a single
layer, without touching on the racks. Cover again with your cloth if
you are putting them outside.
If you are placing them in the oven,
place on a single layer, without touching on your oven racks, without
the cloth of course! Set your oven on its lowest setting.
It is quite possible when drying fruit
will take as long as 6 hours to dry if you are doing apples, and longer
if you are doing apricots or peaches, even up to 24 hours for peaches.
But if you are doing something small, like grapes, they won't take very
long at all. Leave the door open slightly if you can't get the
What can go Wrong when Drying Fruit
Remember you want to dry
not cook them!
This is something to remember, even if
you are drying fruit in the sun. If you expose the fruit to direct
sunlight, they will cook, turn a dark colour and be quite 'jammy' in
taste. Therefore any fruit dried outside should be shaded for best
This can be achieved with either a
purpose-built dryer or you can modify a bookcase for your drying needs.
We have plans for a homemade food dryer here. Fruit
Allowing for plenty of air-circulation
is important for successful fruit drying. If not, you will end up with
mould on your fruit which
will then have to be thrown away.
Finally, when drying fruit look out for insects and
Insects can lay eggs in the fruit while it is drying which will result
in worms hatching at a later stage.
You can sort the ant problem out more
readily by placing the legs of your dryer in containers of water on all
four sides. Ants can't swim and water will make it impossible for them
to crawl to your fruit.
Drying Fruit and Knowing when it is Ready
Drying fruit slowly really is important
for a good result, so don't rush things. It can take days before your
fruit dries, it really depends on the type of fruit you are drying and
the water content of each. Some dry faster than others. So when you are
drying it is best to place the same type of fruit on each rack, rather
than mixing different types of fruit together.
You will know when you fruit is ready
when most of the moisture has been removed. If you remove your fruit
too early, it will spoil. Once you are happy with the state of your
fruit let it cool down for several hours before storing it.
How to Store Dried Fruit
You can store your dried fruit in brown
bags with the top loosely folded over. This allows the fruit to store
without spoiling. You can also place them dark jar, stored in a dark
place, but the lids should be loose, not tight. If you do place them in
air-tight containers then the fruit has to be eaten fairly quickly.