Drying Fruit

fruitTaken from 'Country Kitchen' by Jocasta Innes

This method is quite old, so I have updated it in a few places. Most fruit can be dried - just adapt the methods below.

To dry the fruit out entirely, you need a steady source of heat - traditionally the sun, but sadly usually unreliable - plus a slight draft if possible. Fruit can be dried in short bursts as it contains enough acid and sugar to inhibit moulds. When the fruit has dried, leave it at room temperature overnight to 'condition', and then store (some methods allow up to 5 days to 'cure' so a bit of experimentation may be advisable here).

First clean, wash and dry the fruit. Cut in to manageable pieces or slices unless really small.

Apples

  • Use ripe apples - eaters not cookers.
  • Peel, core and slice into 6mm rings, dropping them into lightly salted water (2 tbsp per 4 litres) to prevent browning.
  • Shake off the water and thread on sticks or spread on trays lined with parchment paper. The sticks can then besupported on trays in the oven.
  • The oven heat should be no more than 60oC (140oF).
  • If the heat is continuous, the rings take 4-6 hours to dry. If intermittent, 2-3 days. They are ready when their texture is like chamois leather.

Pears

  • Peel, quarter and core.
  • Sprinkle with ascorbic acid to prevent darkening, and spread on stacking trays covered with cheesecloth (or parchment paper).
  • Dry as for apples, never allowing the temperature to exceed 65oC (150oF).

Plums

  • If small, dry whole, first scalding with boiling water to split the skins.
  • Large plums can be halved and stoned.
  • Proceed as for pears.

Cherries

  • Sour or Morello cherries dry best, with the most flavour.
  • Leave the stalks on, do not stone, and spread on trays.
  • Dry at 54oC (130oF) for 6 hours.

 

Helpful Hints

(from Meg Galvin)

  • When cutting the fruit, keep the pieces evenly sized, so that they all dry within the same time.
  • You can soak fruit in lemon juice and water for 10 minutes to prevent discolouration if you don't have ascorbic acid.
  • When in the oven, top fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner to keep them from curling up as they dry.
  • Whole fruit will take longer than sliced fruit - up to 12 hours for strawberries and apricots.
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