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How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's summer, and that means fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants are exploding with a bountiful harvest.  A healthy goal is to eat a variety of these local and fresh fruits.  
If we fast forward to fall, the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries are all but gone.  Never fear!  With local produce at its peak, think like the animals--harvest and store for winter.   
When it comes to fruit, you have three options: can, freeze, or dry.
Learn how to turn summer's freshest fruit into a snack you can enjoy year-round. It's like nature's candy, and it requires no special equipment.
While you could use a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet, you don't need one. All you need is an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners and sheet pans or pizza screens if you have them. 
The method is quite simple. You're simply heating the fruit at a low temperature to allow enough water to evaporate so the chance of bacterial growth is minimized.
How to Dry Your Own Fruits
Prep your fruit
Choose ripe or just overly ripe fruits and berries
Wash in cold water
Remove any blemishes
Remove any pits or stones from stone fruits
Remove any stems from berries
Cut and slice fruits evenly so that they will dry within the same time frame
 (Optional) Remove the skins
Some fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, and apples, dry better if the skin has been removed.  Score the bottom of each piece of fruit by making a shallow "x" with a paring knife. Bunk into boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to a basin filled with ice water. The skins should slip right off.
Soak it
To keep fruit looking pretty and minimize discoloration, soak it in lemon juice and water.
Soak fruit for 10 minutes, drain and blot dry with a lint-free towel.
To the Oven
Preheat the oven to 130-160 degrees F. Use a lower temperature for thin sliced fruits such as apples or peaches.  Strawberries and other whole berries love the higher heat.
Place parchment paper onto sheet pans.  Arrange fruit in a single layer, and do not allow pieces to touch. Top fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner to keep them from curling up as they dry.
Place fruit into the oven and rotate pans every 2 hours.
How do you know if it's ready? Dried fruit should feel like leather but still be pliable.
General Cooking Times
(We've shared a convenient, pinnable graphic below!)
Plums 6 hours
Pears 6 hours
Peaches 6 hours
Bananas 6 hours
Apples 6 hours
Grapes 8-10 hours
Citrus Peel 8-10 hours
Cherries 12 hours
Strawberries 12 hours
Apricots 12 hours
Cure it! 
When the fruit is ready, remove it from the oven and place in glass or plastic containers to "cure."  Leave the container open for 4-5 days so that any moisture left from the drying process can evaporate.  Shake the container every day or so to move the fruit around.

Seal the containers after 5 days and enjoy dried fruits until next harvest season, about 10 months.
Don't feel like you have to dry pieces of fruit or berries.  Try making a DIY fruit strips.
Simple Fruit Strip Recipe
Note: Nutrition info will vary 

Combine 2 cups of chopped fruits and berries into a saucepan with 1 cup water, and cook over medium heat until fruit is soft.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Puree the cooked fruit with 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Spread onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Dry at 140 degrees for 5-6 hours.  If fruit feels sticky after 6 hours continue to dry an additional hour. Use kitchen shears to cut into desired shapes.
Chef's tip: Save tomato skins
As a chef, I hate to waste any foods.  Tomato skins tend to be discarded, especially when you're canning tomatoes in summertime.  Don't pitch them--dry them.  Dried tomato skins are a perfect topping for appetizers like crostini, salads, and even pizza. You can even grind dried tomato skins and add to spice blends.  Follow the steps above, making sure to cover with parchment paper or a pizza screen so that the skins will not curl up while drying.  Bake at 150 degrees for 1-2 hours.  Follow the "curing" instructions above.
Chef's tip #2: Get the holiday spirit early
It's never too early to get ready for the holidays.  Dry slices of oranges for the holiday tree.  Store in a sealed container until the holidays.


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I think I will try this next summer! Report
Dried fruit is not a big deal to me...I buy when on sale, do w/o when its not........I suggest if you want to dry your own fruit, buy a dehydrator, leaving your oven on for this length of time is not a good idea, once maybe....but not very often. In winter,some days, I turned my oven on low to warm upthe kitchen. After 3 mornings my heating element burned out and I had to replace my stove. Report
I dry fruits in the oven as well as my dehydrator. I love oven drying because the aroma fills the house. I use 170 degrees and less drying time in the oven. I also leave the door open slightly. I use vitamin C as a preservative and am experimenting with using stevia and ginger as a dip before drying. So far the fruit is fabulous and worthy of gift giving. Oh, I turn the oven on at night and off in the AM. If I leave my computer on at night and charge my phones, ipad, and other mobile devices it is the same amount of energy. Report
My (gas) oven doesn't even go that low -- 170F is it's bottom limit. Sometimes I'll dry some apple slices but in general, dried fruit is WAY too calorie dense for me to incorporate regularly into my diet. I'd rather just eat an apple, they keep for a long time under the correct conditions, anyway. Report
I definitely want to try this out! Report
does anyone know if raspberries can be dried and if so what heat and time is needed. Thank you. Report
When you let it sit in a glass/plastic container, is it sitting in room temperature or in the fridge? AND is it necessary to cover the fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner while in the oven? Report
We have a dehydrator, so we have done this before. Apples and pineapple are very good w/o all the added sugar. Unfortunately, it's not around until next season. It is so good that we eat it all over the course of a few days. Report
I tried bananas and they came out quite well. I will try other fruits as they become available. I do enjoy trying new things with food. Report
I'm never in the house 12 hours -- except when I am sleeping. What happens if the trays don't get turned? Report
I have dehydrated fruit. It's timeconsuming, but it tastes so much better than "store bought" and doesn't add anything, such as sugar or preservatives. Report
I have done this with tomatoes many times. It does heat up the kitchen somewhat but I have other projects that I do around the house. I don't quite dry the tomatoes completely -- just to the leathery stage. Then I freeze them. They take up less freezer space and add a wonderful texture to soups and stews all winter long. I haven't done this on a really hot day but toward the end of the summer when the days start cooling down a bit. Try it - the tomatoes are so much better than just freezing them as the flavor is concentrated by drying. Report
This looks great! I'm always looking for quick, healthy snacks for myself and my kids. Definitely going to give this a try. Report
WooHoo!! Never knew how to do it before!! Will certainly give it a try soon! Report
Wow, this is a great idea and I would love to try it. But I work so much and can barely get a meal on the table each night...so I will file this idea away for a later time when my lifestyle is more conducive to time in the kitchen. Report
Thanks for the tips. I wish I had time to make my own! Report
sounds like a great and healthy idea. but a lot of planning and tedious work. i have no patience whatsoever. maybe i can get my daughter and her friends to do it. Report
good way to make your homeade dry fruit. thinks for the tip Report
I don't have the patience for this, and I've never seen an oven with temperature settings that low. Sprouts, it is. Report
Good to know thank you Report
I prefer to use the dehydrator. I agree, asking for special appliances for gifts works well for me. If an appliance makes my work easier, more efficient (saves me time), or makes me really happy then it is a worthy gift. When I dehydrate, I can move the dehydrator to a different room from the kitchen, so the minimal heat is not in the room I use most. I have an electric range/oven and even on lowest setting, it will heat the room. Since we do not have AC, I am not looking for ways to heat the house in summer. We dehydrate all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I have never tried jerky / meat type foods. Report
reading all the comments made me think that I dry fruit in the sun liked the idea of using large jars I do not have an oven so cant use it feel its a good idea to not have to eat the chemical junk that is put in commercial dried fruit Report
Great! Report
Eeps, doesn't seem cost or time effective to be honest. I can get affordable and delicious dried fruit from Trader Joe's. Report
It sounds interesting and easy enough but keeping the oven on that long just isn't sensible when it is hot out. Report
This was a great blog piece! Since I need to spend such a long stretch of time minding my fruit drying process I decided it would be a good day to catch up on those irritating little sewing repairs; decluttering my domestic hot spots and returning this and that to the proper place; taking a rag and dusting off the top of all the doors, door and window frames, tops of draperies etc. I'm psyched thinking of what work out music I can blast while I fly. Report
This great Report
On average, an electric oven uses $0.80 worth of electricity over 5 hours - your television uses $0.15 and the computer you're reading this on even more. Don't guess, figure out what it really costs in electricity. Report
Thanks for the easy instructions. I am printing and trying this excellent information. Pat in Maine. Report
I have a propane oven that will only go to 200 degrees. I'm going to try this anyway with the door open a crack. I have a lot of fruit that goes bad because my family gets sick of it before it is gone so this hopefully will save some money and stock the cabinets for winter.
Thank you for this article I have wondered how long to dry them for in the past. Report
I agree, I'm never home for more than 6 hours at a time unless I'm asleep. I don't trust leaving my oven on overnight...I've had friends (more than one) burn their house down trying to do that. However, I think this is great for the more "domestic" types who can hang out at home that long. :) Report
The oven temp is so low, I would think the electricity and heat generated wouldn't be a huge problem--and you can dry a lot of fruit at one time. At $6.99 / lb. at the grocery store, it's a bargain. And, your home-made dried fruit doesn't have added sugars or chemical preservatives. I'm trying it this weekend. M. p.s. check out Kickstarter, "Well-done, The Wellness Manifesto" for another great idea. Report
Not a real fan of dried fruits, so I just freeze mine. Report
Don't mean to shoot you down, because this was very informative and well-written. But I have to agree with others here--it doesn't seem like a very cost-effective way to get dried fruit. I'm sure the fruit does taste great, but I'm afraid the utility bill would be rather bitter. Report
Wow, I cannot believe the number of comments about being too expensive and time consuming. It's not people! I've done this before and not only is the flavor AMAZING compared to the crap bought in the stores, it also doesn't contain all the extra addititive store bought dried fruit has. Nothing bugs me more than when I see they've added sugar to already sweet fruit. I'd rather use the honey mentioned above or just let the sweetness of the fruit shine through. If you've never tried drying your own fruit, then you're missing out. Oh and I've made sun-dried tomatoes this way too, which incidentally, most store bought sun-dried tomatoes aren't really sun-dried anyway. They're done in an oven. And for the people who live in dry, sunny climates, like Arizonia, you can do this same thing outside. Just put the fruit on the parchment paper in a pan, cover with a cheese cloth and set them outside. Now that is cheap and it doesn't heat up the house like some people worry about. Which by the way, with the oven on that low, it didn't feel any warmer than normal in my house and I don't have central AC. That low of a temp, the heat stays in the oven, it doesn't spread through the house like running the oven at baking temperatures. Report
Although a good idea, the cost of electricity in Ontario is way too high to consider using my oven for this. I will buy dehydrated fruit, much less expensive. Report
Read this with some surprise - don't like to be negative but energy must be *way* too cheap in the USA. You won't get many people in the UK using an oven like this. Report
Just found GKWINDER's comments about sun drying. Thanks for that information. I might try it. Report
I wonder how many days in the sun it takes, like they do in Middle Eastern countries? Anyone have any knowledge on that? I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and we have lots of sun all year round. Report
In our environment, there is so much humidity that leaving the jar open would just start the process of RE-hydrating the fruit. And then it would tend to mold sooner.

I agree with other posters that I won't be running my oven in the summer!
(Nice "idea" but not too practical.) Report
Yikes! Can't imagine doing this in *summer* (5-6 hrs. of having the oven on full blast)! I think I'll pass! Report
I will definitely be trying this. I'm so tired of having to buy imported dried fruit from the grocery store.I Report
Good ideas here. Like the one about saving the tomato skins. May try that this year as I do a lot of canning too.
Also thanks for the tip about curing the fruit after drying. I did not know that needed to be done Report
Between the oven and air conditioner I'm betting it'll be cheaper and greener for me to buy pre-dried. Good thought if you own a dehydrator though! Report
This sounds awesome and so delicious! Report
Great blog Report
I think it's cheaper just to buy dried fruit than leaving your oven on all day. Report
My oven won't got that low. I do love my Excalibur food dryer, though.
Thanks for the useful information Report
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