With summer comes a bounty of fruit. Want a relatively easy and effective way to make the most of the season’s generous gifts? Dehydrate fruit!
There are many ways to dehydrate fruit. You can use the sun, a dehydrator, oven or even a trampoline! The sun’s heat is the very best option for flavour and energy efficiency. In warm climates where day- and night-time temperatures are very similar, solar drying is extremely easy.
Often it takes no more than a day or two for the fruit to dry if temperatures are in the mid to high 30s.
Cover the fruit with a loose-weave cloth to protect it from both flies and direct sunlight. Harsh sun can reduce vitamins A and C, and bleach the fruit’s natural colour.
Use wire racks or frames covered with flywire and place above the ground or suspend just below a transparent or glass-covered verandah.
Or, even better, make yourself a solar dryer with multiple shelves; some of the most efficient designs have a sun-collector box with shelves to the side which heats the fruit while ensuring it stays out of the direct sunlight.
Solar drying is possible in cool temperate climates, but involves more attention as late-afternoon temperatures often drop significantly which can cause condensation.
Your oven is another option. If it’s not fan-forced, then keep the door slightly ajar to allow steam to escape and use an oven thermometer to accurately assess the temperature.
If using a dehydrator, most have recommended temperature settings. For both oven and dehydrator, the best temperature is between 55–60oC, but no higher.
Everything you need to know about dehydrating fruit
In the new issue of Pip Magazine, inspiring cook, gardener, photographer and long-time Pip writer, Mara Ripani, shares her in-depth knowledge on gathering, harvesting and drying your summer fruit haul, and also shares a delicious salted plums recipe for you to try.
Subscribe to Pip Magazine this month, and you’ll also go into the draw to win an Excalibur digital display five-tray dehydrator valued at $579.
Not only does this gem of a dehydrator preserves fruits, vegetables and herbs quickly and easily, it also dries fish and meat, provides you with your own high production yogurt factory and will help you whip up tasty treats free from preservatives and additives.