The best way to dry fruits, herbs, and flowers is to use the sun’s natural energy. People have been doing it since ancient times and so can you. Harvesting and drying out your garden produce not only cuts the electricity bill but will help you save on grocery bills too. The other benefit of dehydrating fruit naturally is that you have an abundant supply of healthy snacks to store short term or long term. There are 2 ways to dehydrate fruit naturally, namely solar drying and air drying.
Two methods to dehydrate fruit naturally
There are three important aspects to consider when dehydrating fruit naturally:
- a warm constant temperature
- sufficient air circulation
- low humidity factor
The combination of these 3 factors will help speed up the drying process. Low humidity helps to dissipate the moisture released from the fruit, while the warm and stable temperature allows for good vaporizing. Having adequate air circulation contributes to faster drying times.
Solar drying fruit
This low-tech method is simply the best cost-effective solution to dehydrate fruit naturally while retaining flavor. Climates, where temperatures reach 85°F / 30°C, are ideal. Even with a humidity factor of 60 %, at a high enough daily temperature, the fruit will dry well. Drying time for fruit generally ranges between 2 to 6 days in summer, depending on the type of fruit and how thinly they are sliced. The trays of fruit are brought indoors at night and taken out again in the morning. Note that thicker fruits like peaches that are sliced through once will have to be turned every so often.
Looking to build your own solar dehydrator? To dehydrate fruit naturally may require a small investment at the start. You may want to purchase or make your own. A quick search online reveals the DIY builds many homesteaders have done. Here is an example of a quick and easy drying rack. Solar dehydrators are fairly easy to build and come in many different sizes and materials. Alternatively, purchase a solar dryer online.
Eppicotispai Set of 4 Stackable Food Dryers to Assemble into a 4-Tier Food-Dryer Rack
Desy & Feeci Drying Rack Folding Mesh Hanging Basket Dryer Net
for Seeds Flowers, Plants, Garden Harvest
Kispog Dehydrator Rack For Ninja Foodi 6.5 & 8 qt
Instant Pot Duo Crisp 8 qt. Food Grade Stainless Steel
COSORI Food Dehydrator Machine Mesh Screens BPA-Free Plastic Dryer Sheets
Air drying fruit
Dehydrating fruit naturally using the air-drying method simply means that you dry them in the shade. Air drying protects fruits from direct sun and heat, allowing for most of the nutrients to stay intact. Some people use this method for delicate produce such as herbs, greens, and flowers.
How to prepare and store your dehydrated fruit properly
Preparing and storing your dehydrated fruit properly is important for longer-term storage success. Here are some handy tips:
- The best fruits for drying are apricots, apples, plums, grapes, kiwis, pears, figs, and apricots.
- Rinse all fruit and cut in uniform slices for even drying.
- Apples and pears can be soaked in a lemon juice or ascorbic acid bath to prevent browning.
- Fruit should be completely dry before laying out on a drying rack.
- Protect the fruit with cheesecloth or netting from insects.
- Check that fruit are completely dry before storing.
- Check the weather report for a dry spell and adequate constant temperatues for the duration of drying.
- Choose a drying site that gets the best sun and close enough to keep an eye.
- Bring the fruit back indoors at night.
- Dehydrate the fruit for 2 – 6 days or until only 20 % moisture remains.
- Do not cool fruit for too long after solar dehydration so that moisture does not re-enter.
- Transfer fruit to the correct storage container. Choose a secure container that effectively locks out moisture. Opt for glass jars, vapor-proof freezer boxes, metal cans or resealable mylar bags. Before storage you may want to pasteurize fruit by leaving them in a freezer for 48 hours.
- Store your dried fruits in a dark place with a temperature not exceeding 60°F / 15.5°C.
Last thoughts on how to dehydrated fruit properly
Dehydrating fruit naturally is a great way to save money, minimize waste, and eat more healthily. If stored properly dried fruit can last up to 12 months. The best thing about dried fruit is that does not have to be stored in a freezer and that you can have good nutritional snacks around all year round.
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