Dried fruit is a delicious and healthy addition to granola, cereal, muffins, yogurt and so much more. And rumor has it that it tastes even better when you've made it yourself! All you need is an electric or convection oven with a controllable temperature starting at 170 degrees.
Oven drying is the simplest way to dry food, because it requires little to no special equipment. It's also faster and safer than using a sun drying method, especially in cooler regions. The average kitchen oven holds approximately 4 to 6 pounds of fruit at one time.
For best quality, prepare produce for drying as soon as possible after harvesting.
Select fruit that is ripe—but not overripe—and free of bruises. Fresh apples, pears, peaches, berries, cherries, bananas and apricots are all good choices. Wash and peel the fruit (blueberries, apricots and cherries work best if dried whole). Remove pits or cores, then slice the fruit to desired thickness. Keep the slice thickness uniform.
Arrange the slices of fruit in a single layer on nonstick baking sheets—and make sure the pieces aren't touching each other. Preheat the oven to 170°F. Put one sheet on each oven rack. Allow 1-1/2 inches on all sides of the tray so air can circulate around the sheets while fruit is drying.
Keep the oven door open slightly during drying and stir fruit every 30 minutes. Properly dried fruit should be chewy, not squishy or crispy.
Once the fruit is thoroughly dried (it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on thickness of slices and the fruit's water content), remove the trays from the oven and let stand overnight (at least 12 hours) before placing in storage containers.
Dried Fruit Recipes
Fruit 'n' Nut Granola
The combination of crunchy nuts and chewy fruit makes this granola a hit for breakfast or snacking. Fruit 'n' Nut Granola is packed with lots of ingredients that taste great.
—Sue Hochhalter-Broyles, Rapelje, Montana
Dried Fruit Stuffing
Fruit and almonds give new life to a boxed stuffing mix in this flavorful Dried Fruit Stuffing recipe.
— Taryn Kuebelbeck, Plymouth, Minnesota
Cheddar French Toast with Dried Fruit Syrup
My family loves this Cheddar French Toast with Dried Fruit Syrup on cold mornings in the North Carolina mountains where we take our yearly vacation. Each year, I alter the recipe slightly by experimenting with different dried fruits.
—Jackie Lintz, Cocoa Beach, Florida
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