If you’re looking for healthy, fun-to-eat snacks for your family, dried fruit can often fit the bill. For some reason, kids who won’t sit down and peel and eat a banana, will happily munch on a bag of crunchy banana chips. Maybe it’s the convenience, or the taste, or even the crunch that make dried fruits so appealing. Whatever the reason, read this instructive article and learn how to make homemade dried fruit snacks in your oven today!
Choose the Fruit You Want to Use
The first step is to choose the type of fruit you want to dry. Some good choices are bananas, apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, grapes, plums and pears. No matter what type of fruit you choose, you’ll want to use only fully ripened, unblemished produce. If you don’t use flavorful fruit to begin with, your finished product isn’t going to taste good.
How much fruit do you need? That depends on the type. As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on getting approximately five pounds of fruit out of every twenty-five pounds of fresh fruit you use. Now you know why buying dried fruit is so expensive, eh?
Prepare the Fruit for Oven Drying
The second step is to wash the fruit well. Then, to make homemade dried fruit snacks in your oven, you can peel apples, or not. It’s your choice. All the other fruits I mentioned need not be peeled, except the bananas, peaches and pears.
Now, you’ll need to prepare the fruit according to its type. Here are a few helpful tips you should use as you prepare them:
1. Light-colored fruits such as apples, apricots, bananas and peaches need to be dipped in lemon juice before they are dried in your oven. The acidic juice helps these fruits from turning dark brown.
2. No matter how you cut the larger fruit up- into quarter-inch slices or rings- or if you cut the smaller fruit in half- make sure the pieces are uniform in size. This way, they’ll all dry in the same amount of time.
3. If you prefer to dry small fruits like cherries or grapes whole, you’ll need to vent the skins. To do this, you’ll need to make a small slice in the ends with a sharp paring knife to allow the steam to escape.
To further prepare the fruit:
Apples- Core, then cut them into slices or rings.
Apricots- Cut in half, remove the pits.
Bananas- Peel, cut into slices.
Cherries- Remove stems and pits; cut in half or leave whole.
Grapes- Remove stems; cut in half or leave whole.
Peaches- Peel, remove stems and pits.
Pears- Core, peel, then cut into slices or rings.
Preheat Your Oven
To make homemade dried fruit snacks, you’ll need to heat your oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dry the Fruit In Your Oven
In the meantime, place the prepared fruit in single layers on cookie sheets. When the oven is heated, place the sheets in the oven. Prop the oven door open a few inches so the steam can escape and the air can circulate. Instead of using cookies sheets, you can cover your oven racks with cheesecloth. Then, place the fruit in a single layer directly on the cheesecloth.
Check the fruits often, rotate the cookie sheets or oven racks and turn the fruit every hour or so. On the average, apples can dry in as little as eight hours. However, fruit can take up to twenty-four hours or more to dry.
To make homemade dried fruit snacks in your oven, when the pieces have lost most of their moisture, they will be leathery. Check a couple pieces from each batch for doneness.
Store the Dried Fruit
Allow the fruit to cool completely, then store it in resealable plastic bags, in airtight containers, or in jars with lids. Place the containers in a cool, dry place.
For the best quality, eat the homemade dried fruit snacks soon since they were made without preservatives to help prevent spoilage.