How to Dehydrate Fruit
Everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is the one of the best ways to get healthy. But, I think many people don't because it doesn't last. If you have an electric or solar dehydrator, you can dehydrate fruit and store it for months.
Drying fruit is how our ancestors preserved excess food, and it's a method that's still popular. With the invention of electric food dehydrators, preservation by dehydration became a lot simpler and faster.
When you take the water out of fruits, the natural sugars become concentrated. Your dried bananas, pineapple, or mangoes will be sweeter than usual. So, if you're using it for other recipes, keep that in mind and use less.
Why an Adjustable Thermostat Matters
When drying fruits or fruit leather roll-ups, set the thermostat to high (or about 140 degrees F) in the beginning. You want the food to "sweat" the first two hours. The water inside keeps the food a little cooler than the air, and you want to draw it out as quickly as possible (without cooking it, of course). That'll keep bacteria and other bad micro-organisms from growing.
Note: If you don't have an adjustable thermostat on yours, it's really not a big deal. Many older dehydrators had just one setting, and people dried fruits just fine. But if you're shopping for a new one, this is one reason to look for that feature.
Start off by washing your fruits thoroughly. If you're drying something with skins, like apples, peel it. You want to make sure you remove all the pesticides and/or protective wax coatings before dehydrating. Plus, this will speed up the drying process.
After washing, slice the fruit. You can use your regular knife, but if your knife skills are lacking, feel free to use a mandoline slicer. Personally, I prefer a slicer because I'm slow with the knife, and the slicer guarantees uniform slices.
Do Your Apples Turn Brown? Try Pre-treating.
Pre-treating your fruit isn't necessary with all fruits. However, it's recommended for apples, peaches, pears, and apricots. These are the ones that oxidize more than others, meaning they'll turn brown. To pre-treat, all you need to do is dip the slices in fruit juice, syrup, or ascorbic acid mixture (available at the supermarket). Obviously, if you use juice or syrup, you can expect the finished products to be extra sweet.
Now you're ready to dehydrate fruit. Spread the slices out in one layer and dry. That's all there is to it. Depending on your environment and dehydrator, it'll take 4-24 hours. It's good to keep a notepad nearby, so you can keep records. That way, you'll be able to customize all the dehydrator recipes to your exact needs.
To check for dryness, simply pick up a piece and tear it in half. If there are no moisture beads, they're good to go. You can store them in an airtight container for several months.
Dehydrate Fruit You Already Have
Before you run to the market and load up on fruits for the dehydrator, dry what you already have. I used to have a lot of food spoil on me and they'd have to go into the garbage. Since I started dehydrating fruit, I no longer have wasted food and I always have a lot of healthy snacks.