Tips for drying your own fruit
Meet the fabulous family of dried fruit. Packed with ample flavour and vitamins, these guys are a great 5-a-day component. Here are some tips to help you achieve dried fruit perfection and some ideas for using these great snacks.
1. Fruit dries better when cut evenly – unless you’re a well seasoned chef, its best to use a mandolin for apples, pineapples and vegetables.
2. The shape and thickness of your fruit when cut can change the flavour – cut thicker for a more chewy, juicy result or try get pop-in-your-mouth slivers with thin-as-a-pancake slices.
3. Mangoes dry beautifully if they are cut slightly thicker than other fruit – 1cm wide is perfect.
4. Certain fruits oxidise (go brown) when left out in the open and won’t look so desirable after a couple hours. To combat this, soak fruit like apples and bananas in a water and lemon juice mixture.
5. Flavouring dried fruit can transform same-old-same-old fruit into fun feasts – try sprinkling apples with cinnamon or soaking strawberries in champagne before drying. As a snack for the grown-ups (or a fruit cake shortcut), you could pickle fruit in brandy and then dehydrate.
6. Take dehydrated fruits to work as a healthy snack, add to lunch boxes, or eat with yogurt and honey for a feel good breakfast.
7. Slip dried fruit into a pot of tea or tea leaf mix and make your own fruit teas.
8. Use it for a completely homemade fruit cake.
9. Package your homemade dried fruits beautifully in a glass jar or pretty bag and tie with a ribbon – a perfect gift.
10. Add some glamour to dinner parties – serve cheese and dried fruit boards after dessert with fruits you’ve dehydrated yourself.
11. Remember that dehydrating is not the same as roasting – dry roasting fruit slices in an oven will give you a crunchy, brittle fruit that will look brilliant as a garnish but a dehydrator will make you remember your childhood with chewy, flavoursome, fruity treats.
12. If you want to speed up the process you can steam your fruit slices for 3-4 minutes just before putting them in the dehydrator.
13. When you squeeze the fruit – there should be no moisture, this is when your dried fruit is ready.
14. It’s best to take the pips out – no one likes biting into a rock hard core after chewing on a delightfully soft fruit.
15. Drying your own fruit ensures that there aren’t any nasty chemicals – the only downside to this is a shortened shelf life. Keep your stash properly sealed for best results.
Happy snacking, folks.
Thanks to Robyn, one of our star interns, for all her research and input into this dried fruit adventure.