Right now, you may have heard a lot of good things about dehydrated fruit. From packing more nutrients to tricking your stomach that it just ate a full meal, there is no doubt that including them in your diet can offer some benefits.
The only problem, however, is that store-bought dehydrated fruits can be more expensive than their regular counterparts. There is always the option to just to do the dehydration process yourself. And fortunately for you, dehydrating fruit is not as complicated or expensive as you might think it is.
In fact, the process of turning a ripe, juicy mango into dehydrated mango strips is the same with apples, oranges, and berries. Regardless of the fruit, you want to desiccate, the process will follow the same steps, which are as follows:
Steps to dehydrate fruits
First and foremost, you have to give the fruit a good rinse. This does not exactly affect how the fruit will dehydrate. But, it is good to know that you are working with something that has been thoroughly cleaned.
Next, you will have to peel the skin off. This will leave the meat fully exposed to the elements. Also, there are types of skin that are edible if dehydrated like those of oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits.
Not all fruits can be cut up in the same way for dehydration. Depending on their size and shape, you would have to cut the fruits in different ways to properly dehydrate them.
Apples, Pears, and Oranges
When dehydrating fruit as big as your fists like apples and oranges, it would be best to cut them up into 1/16 slices. First, cut the entire fruit in half lengthwise and then cut the halves into smaller halves. You should end up with slices thin enough to speed up the dehydration process.
As for pineapples, you would have to cut them horizontally until you get discs. You can then cut these discs into two halves to make than dry up faster.
Berries, Cherries, and Grapes
The best part about dehydrating fruit like berries is the minimal preparation needed to get them ready due to their size. You can have fruits like cherries and grapes immediately cured as they are, skin and all, and they would still be properly dehydrated.
However, there are certain berries that might require cutting. Strawberries, for example, are one of the bigger berries out there. To properly dehydrate them, you would have to cut them in half or in thinner slices.
Due to their sizes, you must cut bananas into smaller bite-sized chips. Make sure that the size of each cut is not too thick or you would end up with a chewy banana chip.
Due to their size, you can create a handful of smaller sizes out of single winter melon, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Do not cut your melon slices too thin as they can become too frail once dehydrated. Half a millimeter in thickness is sufficient since melons tend to dry faster than other fruits.
Mangoes and Other Pulpy Fruits
Out of all the fruits, mangoes and other similar fruits like peaches are perhaps the messiest to cut through. There is just no way you can create uniformly sized cuts with these fruits.
Instead, you are better off making “strips” with pulpy fruits. To do this, all you have to do is randomly make slices on the fruit until you reach the core.
Before you go about actually dehydrating fruit, you have to pre-treat them and this can be done in two ways. First, you can place all the fruits in a steam basket and have them steamed for 3 to 4 minutes straight. This will cause most of the juices to dry out, which results in a crispier chip.
Second, you can bathe the fruits in a solution comprised of either lime juice or lemon juice and water. The citric acid will prevent the surface from browning while keeping the fibers intact. This would result in a chewier fruit once the drying process is complete.
There are also two methods of drying your fruit. The first option is to go natural and just let them dry out in the heat of the sun. However, this does attract flies and your fruit will tend to turn brown in the first few hours. Also, given that some seasons have shorter day times, you can’t always rely on this process year-round.
The second option is through an oven or a dehydration machine. The process here will be faster and you won’t expose your fruits to harmful elements. However, there are instances when the dehydration process will be uneven, so you have to turn the fruit from time to time. In essence, it’s a faster but more labor-intensive way of dehydrating fruit.
Depending on the method you choose, the fruits will be dehydrated in a few hours or an entire day. Just make sure that you regularly check on your fruits, especially if you opt for the natural method.
Storage and Conditioning
Once the dehydration process is complete, do not place your fruit in a container just yet. Wait for them to get cool to the touch so that any remaining moisture from the heat is completely removed.
Place your fruits in an airtight zip-lock bag or vacuum-sealed jar for the 10-day conditioning process. As the fruits are conditioning, check for condensation forming in the sides. This is a telltale sign that there is still moisture, which means you have to dry the fruits for another day.
When storing dehydrating fruit like watermelons, you have to double-check to make sure moisture has been completely removed from them. Also, store them in a place with a room temperature no higher than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because watermelon has a tendency to go bad in a few days, even when preserved if improperly stored.
Once the conditioning process is over, you should have fully dried fruits ready for consumption. Just remember to always put your containers on a dry, cool place away from sunlight so they remain fresh for as long as possible.