How To Make Yummy Dried Fruit Treats
Every single tasty bite of a dried fruit that's homemade is chock full of natural concentrated sweetness and it's nutritious too! You can savor the summer's fruits to enjoy whenever you desire the delectable tasty goodness. If you dry plenty of extra fruit you can give it as a gift any time of the year.
Children adore finding homemade fruit leather in their lunches for a very special treat or snack. Dried fruit is fantastic as a healthy snack anytime and you can add it to granola or trail mix when you're going to be out and about. You can also add it to bread or cookie doughs and you can mix up cream cheese with some chopped, dried fruits as a scrumptious bread spread!
It's easy to reconstitute your dried fruit whenever you need to make a recipe that calls for frozen, fresh or canned fruits. Just soak your dried fruit in a bowl of cool, fresh water for at least a couple of hours which should make it plump and delicious again. You can then refrigerate it or pour some boiling water on it and simmer for approx. 15 to 20 minutes for a delectable compote.
Choose the Ultimate Fruit
Cherries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, and of course apples are a few of the most common fruits to dry. The fruits you choose should be ripe, firm and in perfect condition for enjoying right then and there, not overripe or under ripe.
After you sort out, wash and dry your fruit and remove any seeds, pits, stems and peels. It's best if you cut the fruit up into slices smaller than a quarter inch so that the drying process will be more uniform. Cherries, blueberries and similar smaller fruit may be dried whole, but it's a good idea to crack their skins first by a quick dip into boiling water. Make sure to cool right away. If you're preparing a fruit leather, first puree the fruit into a smooth consistency which you can pour, and you can add a touch of corn syrup to sweeten if you like.
Pretreat the Fruit
Pretreatment is recommended for almost all fruits but especially for cherries, pears, peaches, apricots and apples. This will reduce the loss of flavor, deterioration, and browning as well as lock in vitamins. After your fruit is prepared, dip it into a fruit stabilizer available in most grocery stores that may contain sodium bisulfite or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Make sure to follow all directions.
You can also stabilize fruit by dipping it into a home made solution of ascorbic acid. Just dissolve a couple of tablespoons of powdered ascorbic acid in one liter of tepid water and submerse the fruit for a couple of minutes. Drain well, and dry away. Quality can also be maintained by sugar syrup, water, or steam blanching.
The Method to Dry Fruit
The best condition for fruit drying is a temperature of 140° F and a very low level of humidity. There are several methods to dry fruit but easily the most effective and reliable is the utilization of an electric food dehydrator.
First you can arrange your fruit in one, single layer on dehydrating trays. It's a good idea to rearrange your trays every couple of hours to make sure that the drying process is even. Small pieces of harder fruits like apples can be ready in 6 hours while larger, juicier fruit pieces can take up to 15 hours. The way to test that the fruit is dry is when the pieces that have been cooled are no longer sticky but leathery and flexible when you squeeze them in your hand.
Most electric dehydrators have particular trays made of plastic for the preparation of fruit leather. You can spread the fruit puree to approximately 1/8 " thickness on the special tray and put it all in the food dehydrator. Fruit leather dries in about 6 to 8 hours.
Storing the Dried Fruit
Prior to storing your now dried fruit check the package every day for approximately a week to make sure that no moisture shows up in little beads. Moisture means that additional drying is required.
If you want to keep your dried fruit in storage for a long time, put your fruit into plastic ziploc bags that are heavy freezer type and press all the air out. Then you can place these bags into a container and place a tight-fitting lid on them. Make sure to store in a dry, dark, and cool area, and never store for more than a year.