Dehydrated Fruit – Natures Candy
We are heading home from our awesome South Dakota vacation today. I’m so glad that I had made a bunch of dried fruits for the road trip because it was so convenient to have on hand, they didn’t need any refrigeration and it totally satisfied our snacking needs whether we were driving or hiking. At home I chop the dried fruit up into tiny bits to put in my homemade granola. We always keep dried fruit on hand in our house. My hubby takes a baggie to work too so he has snacks.
Have a sweet tooth? Have kids? Love to snack? Try drying some fruit. It’s candy, but candy that hasn’t been chemically processed or contains ingredients created in a laboratory. No preservatives and lots of nutritional goodness like vitamins and fiber. Healthy snacking – can it be?
Citrus and apples are the two things that I add anything too. I use coconut palm sugar. The taste resembles a brown sugar/molasses flavor and will brown and sweeten the citrus and apples a bit.
I use dried lemons slices, oranges slices and pink grapefruit slices to flavor my water and tea naturally. One slice will flavor at least 2 glasses of water too. I also eat them as snacks. It’s like a thin taffy. So good.
I only use organic fruits and veggies because I have no interest in drying pesticides and chemicals. Hit up your farmers market for some local organic fruits and veggies and help support local growers in your area at the same time.
Most people have probably tried dried banana chips or apple chips but have you ever tried dehydrated melon? Holy sweet treat. Dried watermelon is just about the yummiest thing in the world. Watermelon is the sweetest of all the melons when dried with honeydew pulling up a close second. Don’t knock it til you try it, it’s amazing.
DEHYDRATED WATERMELON TASTES LIKE A JOLLY RANCHER
Dehydrating fruits and veggies is pretty much the easier thing you can do. Just cut and dry. My slices are usually around a 1/4 inch thick. For citrus, I dry the rind as well as the flesh. I don’t peel any fruits or vegetables with the exception of bananas and melons. My fruits tend to be crispier at a 1/4 inch thickness and chewier at a 1/2 inch thickness for all other fruits besides watermelon.
I wrote about dehydrated citrus slices for use in water and bell pepper candy a while ago and talked about my inexpensive dehydrator. This was the best 50 something bucks I ever spent on a kitchen appliance. I can run it constantly for days switching out different fruits and what I’m left with is a huge stash of all natural, sweet and healthy snacks.
The hubby has a wicked sweet tooth and as long as we have a stash of dried fruits on hand, he is a happy camper. Kids will love them and you will love that there aren’t any preservatives or added sugars.
You don’t have to own a dehydrator to dry fruit though. You can easily dry them in your oven. Just set the temperature to 200 degrees and make no plans to use your oven for a while. I usually leave my dehydrator running overnight but I don’t think I would leave my oven on all night. That’s just me, I can be a worrier.
The thinner you slice your fruits or vegetables, the crispier they will be and faster they will dry. The thicker they are, the chewier they will be and take a little longer to dry. It’s two totally different snacks. One is almost “chippy” and one is like “taffy” so I usually switch up my slicing sizes.
It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra cutting assistance. I usually pull out the biggest knife, ask the hubby if this one will work and he will most times take the big scary knife out of my hand and show me the correct way to cut the fruit. By the time I’ve “learned” what he taught me, everything is cut. I’m a sneaky Bunny 🙂
DRYING TIMES FOR CONVENTIONAL OVENS:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place sliced fruit/veggies on parchment paper. You can use multiple parchment paper lined cookie sheets and use both racks. Just remember, the thicker the slices are, the longer they will take to dry.
Most of the time you will be drying for a minimum of 6 hours if using the oven. At 6 hours, flip the fruit/veggies and continue drying if not already dry. If more time is needed, check every couple of hours. You only need to flip them once though.
To test, take a piece of each variety out of the oven and let cool on the counter. If after it’s cooled, squeeze the fruit/veggies and see if there is any moisture left. If so, continue drying for a few more hours and test again. You don’t want there to be any moisture because your treats can go rancid if left out too long. But if they are thoroughly dried, they can sit out for a very very long time but they won’t last that long anyway because they are so yummy.
DRYING TIMES FOR DEHYDRATOR:
Place sliced fruit/veggies on trays. Set temperature to 135 degrees and turn dehydrator on.
I check my fruit/veggies starting at the 8 hour mark. At 8 hours, flip the fruit/veggies and continue drying if not already dry. If more time is needed, check every couple of hours. You only need to flip them once though.
To test, take a piece of each variety out of the dehydrator and let cool on the counter. If after it’s cooled, squeeze the fruit/veggies and see if there is any moisture left. If so, continue drying for a few more hours and test again. You don’t want there to be any moisture because your treats can go rancid if left out too long. But if they are thoroughly dried, they can sit out for a very very long time but they won’t last that long anyway because they are so yummy.