Today I’ll show you how to dry any fruit in your oven! No dehydrator needed! This step by step guide shows you how to prepare, dry and store your homemade dried fruit!
How to dry fruit in your oven:
This year we’ve been drowning in fruit! I’ve never seen that many cherries hanging from a single tree! I was even glad when the Magpies started to help a bit with cherry picking! But once all the fruit was harvested, the next problem arose. What to do with all those cherries. There’s only so many cherry pies a two-person household can eat and the pantry is already filled with more cherry jam and chutney than anyone could ever eat. That’s when I decided to look for different methods of preservation. Given that I love to bake cookies and granola bars, I decided to try and dry the remainder of the orchard’s harvest.
That sounds like a lot of effort to you? Let me tell you, it’s not!
Why should you even bother? Well, it might be easier and energy saving to buy your dried fruit. But did you know that most brands contain a lot of added sugar? So when you think you are opting for a healthy snack when munching on your dried pineapple you might actually just as well have a hand full of gummy bears. Mean, huh?
Homemade dried fruit, on the other hand, makes a really great, healthy snack. But it’s more than that. It’s also a nice addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Think salads with dried cranberries, meatballs with dried cherries, or tajines with dried apricots! The possibilities are endless!
You do not need a dehydrator to dry fruit at home!
Most people assume you need to have a dehydrator to make dried fruit at home and so did I! Until I did some research online! I found out that you don’t really need one unless you plan on drying fruit pretty frequently. For our purposes, the oven does the job just fine.
Drying fruit in your oven is simple! Low oven temperature and time are all it takes!
Drying fruit in an oven is a pretty simple straightforward process: just bake it at a low temperature for a long time. It’s usually a lot cheaper than buying dried fruit from the grocery store and a great way to preserve fruit for a long time.
The only downside is that it takes at least a few hours, and sometimes all day until the fruit dries out. It is completely hands off though as your oven does the whole job. You simply pop your fruit in the oven and forget about it. I even dry my fruit overnight.
Choose an oven temperature of 57 to 92 Celsius or 135 – 200 F for best results!
You can vary the temperature of the oven to change the texture or speed up the drying process. Higher temperatures will take out more moisture, while lower temperatures usually result in a more juicy and chewier texture. I must say I prefer a lower temperature and nice and soft dried fruit. The typical range is 57 to 93 Celsius, that’s 135 to 200 F and I don’t recommend going much higher than that or your fruit will cook instead of dehydrating and cause the skins of certain fruits to get crusty i.e. ‘hard’
Which kinds of fruit can I dry in my oven?
I started out by drying cherries and was so amazed by the simplicity of the process that I had to try different fruit as well. I was amazed by how well it worked with apples, apricots and even vegetables like tomatoes!
I summarized my research into a little pin-able infographic which you can see at the bottom of the article!
How do I prepare my fruit for drying in the oven?
- You basically always start by removing any hard party like pits, seeds or peel! I know the peel is where the vitamins are but believe me, it turns into leather once dried. Bye, bye dental fillings.
- Make sure your fruit is as dry as possible.
- If you want bright fruit, like dried apples, to stay keep their white color, you can brush them with a bit of lemon juice/water mix. But don’t wash your fruit and throw them on the tray with all the water sticking to them.
How to dry cherries and berries in the oven: A step-by-step guide:
Drying berries and cherries is especially simple. Start by turning the oven as low as it would go – in my case that would be 75 Celsius – and layer them out on wire cooking racks suspended over cookie sheets. I dried mine without parchment paper directly on the rack and they turned out perfect. However, you can put a layer of parchment paper on the rack. In any case, you should have a baking pan or a deep cookie sheet at the bottom of your oven to gather the dripping juices. You could also dry your fruit directly on a few baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
Leave your oven door ajar to maintain air circulation!
If your oven is a bit older and does not have an adequate fan, it is also advisable to prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon to maintain air circulation during the drying process. I didn’t do it, and it worked just fine for me. If you have an older oven, you might decide to prop it open and maybe even point a fan near the open oven door.
Let the fruit dry for 9 hours or overnight!
Pop the pitted cherries into the oven and do something different. Sleep, eat, have a Netflix Binge. I simply turned the oven to about 80 Celsius before I went to bed and after 9 solid hours of beauty sleep, I awoke to the smell of dried sour cherries.
How do I know when my dried fruit is ready?
How do you now your cherries are done and dried? Easy answer: When you touch it, and it is leathery with no pockets of moisture. You can also test the fruit by tearing a piece in half. If you see moisture forming along the tear, it is not dry enough.
My dried cherries started to look a lot like cranberries or even raisins. The cherries you saw in the picture were done after 11 hours at 75 Celsius. As you can see they have shrunk to the size of raisins and some of them have even turned deep purple. The middle ones are a bit chewier but seemed dehydrated enough that they should keep.
How do I store my homemade dried fruit?
Make sure you let your dried fruit cool completely before storing. As a rule, dried fruit should keep for about a year if stored in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dry, dark place
As promised, here are some examples of fruits that dehydrate well in the oven. None of the time and temperature recommendations are concrete, so feel free to change them to match the texture you want and the amount of time you want to spend. Pin pin pin or print out and hang on your fridge!
Looking for recipes to use up some of the dried fruit? You might want to try my boozy
I hope your give it a try! Let me know if you have any questions or further recommendations!