Grandma’s holiday fruitcake. Your signature trail mix. A game night cheeseboard. Dried fruit makes its way onto our plates in many delicious forms. Whether you’re always snacking on dried apricots or never have a salad without raisins, drying your own is totally doable (and less expensive than buying them already dried at the supermarket). Here’s an easy guide on how to dry fruit all by yourself.
What You Need
Well, what do you like? You can dry basically any fruit in the oven in just a few hours. Popular choices include apricots, cherries, tomatoes, cranberries, apples and bananas, but you could also venture to try mango, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, pineapple—you name it.
Dried fruit is high in sugar, but it’s typically natural sugar, not added. It’s also rich in fiber and lasts basically forever according to the FDA, way longer than fresh. (The mushy apples in your fridge can confirm.) Ripe fruit that’s free of bruises and not yet mushy will dry the best.
- Fruit: Your oven can handle a few pounds at a time.
- Lemon juice: This is technically optional but works wonders in keeping the fruit from browning. If you’d prefer that your dried fruit maintained its natural coloring, don’t skip this. Bottled or fresh lemon juice are both fine.
- Water: To combine with lemon juice if you choose to use it. The ratio of lemon to water can be anywhere from 1:1 to 1:4. Getting the lemon’s acid on the fruit in the first place is all that really matters.
How to Dry Fruit
Don’t own a dehydrator? No worries: Your oven’s a great substitute.
- Preheat the oven to the lowest setting, which is probably somewhere between 140° and 170°F. If your oven only goes as low as 200°F, that’s fine. In the meantime, wash any fruit that isn’t protected by an inedible outer peel.
- Peel any fruits with outer skins that could turn tough or bitter, like mango or citrus. Apricots, apples, cherries and other fruits with thin, edible skins are fine to leave unpeeled.
- Slice the fruit to your desired thickness or stick to ¼- or ½-inch slices or rounds. The thicker the slice, the longer it will take to dry. Halve apricots and leave berries and cherries whole. Be sure to remove all pits, seeds and cores. Spray, brush or dip the fruit in the lemon mixture if you choose to use it.
- Place the fruit pieces in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet (or a baking sheet lined with parchment). If you’re drying more than one type of fruit, it might help to have separate baking sheets for each fruit since they’ll likely dry at different rates. Make sure none of them are overlapping and leave about an inch of space between the fruit and the pan’s edges to make sure heat and air have space to circulate.
- Let the fruit bake, rotating the pieces every half-hour. It also helps to leave the oven door slightly cracked open for moisture to escape and air to circulate.
- Depending on the fruits’ water content, the thickness of the slices and the lowest temperature setting on your oven, it could take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours to be ready. Once the fruit looks dry, browned or leathery (or if you taste a piece that’s to your liking), remove the baking sheet from the oven to cool.
- Store the dried fruit in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment. (That is, if you don’t eat it all in one sitting.)
Ready to cook? Here are some of our favorite recipes that call for dried fruit.
- Cherry-Almond Baked Oatmeal
- Oven-Dried Tomatoes
- The Best Damn Fruitcake Ever
- The Easiest Raw Apricot Candy
- No-Bake, Gluten-Free Rose Petal Brownies