Dehydrating our own fruit not only allows us to preserve some of the delicious flavors of summer to snack on throughout the fall and winter (if they last that long), it also allows me to dry our fruits at a low temperature and without any additives or preservatives.
We dried our fruit at 95-degrees Fahrenheit. This preserves more of the fruit’s naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, some of which are damaged or cooked out at higher temperatures.
Drying my own fruit also allows me to dehydrate the fruit without adding anything to it. Unless you’re careful about what you purchase (for example, our local health food store sells dried fruit without anything added to it), most dried fruit you find in the market will have sugar, artificial colors, and other preserving agents added to it.
Dried fruit contains enough naturally occurring sugars to make it sweet on its own without added sugar, and I don’t think anyone needs chemical additives or preservatives added to their foods.
Granted, the colors of my dried fruits are more brown than what you might buy in a store, but our dried fruit tastes great, and it doesn’t need the artificial preservatives to have it last throughout the winter (drying is a preservation method in and of itself).
If you manage to obtain a large flat of stone fruits before harvest time comes to an end in your part of the world, dehydrating is a great way to preserve some of them for future consumption. Wonderfully, the process itself is very simple.
I used a dehydrator for my drying. So I simply washed the fruit, cut it into pieces, spread it out in a single layer on the trays, set the temperature, and turned it on. I checked it a few times, and the bulk of our pieces were dry within 24 hours. Once they were dry, I let them cool, loaded them into mason jars, and put them in our pantry. It was simple.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can do something very similar in your oven (this is what I did before we had a dehydrator). You wash and cut the fruit, the same as above, and then spread it in a single layer on a baking sheet. Turn your oven on to its lowest temperature (this varies greatly from oven to oven; mine will set at 100), place the baking sheets inside the oven, and allow the fruit to dry. Because your fruit will not be on a screen-type tray, you may need to turn the pieces over to help it to dry evenly on both sides.
We love saving some of summer’s sweetness to eat during winter and fall. What are your favorite ways to save a taste of summer?