How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's summer, and that means fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants are exploding with a bountiful harvest.  A healthy goal is to eat a variety of these local and fresh fruits.  
If we fast forward to fall, the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries are all but gone.  Never fear!  With local produce at its peak, think like the animals--harvest and store for winter.   
When it comes to fruit, you have three options: can, freeze, or dry.
Today I'm going to teach you how to turn summer's freshest fruit into a snack you can enjoy year-round. It's like nature's candy, and it requires no special equipment.
While you could use a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet, you don't need one. All you need is an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners and sheet pans or pizza screens if you have them. 
The method is quite simple. You're simply heating the fruit at a low temperature to allow enough water to evaporate so the chance of bacterial growth is minimized.
How to Dry Your Own Fruits
Prep your fruit
Choose ripe or just overly ripe fruits and berries
Wash in cold water
Remove any blemishes
Remove any pits or stones from stone fruits
Remove any stems from berries
Cut and slice fruits evenly so that they will dry within the same time frame
 (Optional) Remove the skins
Some fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, and apples, dry better if the skin has been removed.  Score the bottom of each piece of fruit by making a shallow "x" with a paring knife. Bunk into boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to a basin filled with ice water. The skins should slip right off.
Soak it
To keep fruit looking pretty and minimize discoloration, soak it in lemon juice and water.
Soak fruit for 10 minutes, drain and blot dry with a lint-free towel.
To the Oven
Preheat the oven to 130-160 degrees F. Use a lower temperature for thin sliced fruits such as apples or peaches.  Strawberries and other whole berries love the higher heat.
Place parchment paper onto sheet pans.  Arrange fruit in a single layer, and do not allow pieces to touch. Top fruit with a pizza screen or silicone pan liner to keep them from curling up as they dry.
Place fruit into the oven and rotate pans every 2 hours.
How do you know if it's ready? Dried fruit should feel like leather but still be pliable.
General Cooking Times
(We've shared a convenient, pinnable graphic below!)
Plums 6 hours
Pears 6 hours
Peaches 6 hours
Bananas 6 hours
Apples 6 hours
Grapes 8-10 hours
Citrus Peel 8-10 hours
Cherries 12 hours
Strawberries 12 hours
Apricots 12 hours
Cure it! 
When the fruit is ready, remove it from the oven and place in glass or plastic containers to "cure."  Leave the container open for 4-5 days so that any moisture left from the drying process can evaporate.  Shake the container every day or so to move the fruit around.

Seal the containers after 5 days and enjoy dried fruits until next harvest season, about 10 months.
Don't feel like you have to dry pieces of fruit or berries.  Try making a DIY fruit strips.
Simple Fruit Strip Recipe
Note: Nutrition info will vary 

Combine 2 cups of chopped fruits and berries into a saucepan with 1 cup water, and cook over medium heat until fruit is soft.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Puree the cooked fruit with 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Spread onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Dry at 140 degrees for 5-6 hours.  If fruit feels sticky after 6 hours continue to dry an additional hour. Use kitchen shears to cut into desired shapes.
Chef's tip: Save tomato skins
As a chef, I hate to waste any foods.  Tomato skins tend to be discarded, especially when you're canning tomatoes in summertime.  Don't pitch them--dry them.  Dried tomato skins are a perfect topping for appetizers like crostini, salads, and even pizza. You can even grind dried tomato skins and add to spice blends.  Follow the steps above, making sure to cover with parchment paper or a pizza screen so that the skins will not curl up while drying.  Bake at 150 degrees for 1-2 hours.  Follow the "curing" instructions above.
Chef's tip #2: Get the holiday spirit early
It's never too early to get ready for the holidays.  Dry slices of oranges for the holiday tree.  Store in a sealed container until the holidays.
Will you try drying your own fruit?
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SNUZYQ2 7/15/2019
Very well written article. I use a dehydrator to dry our mission figs every year. Delicious! Report
CECELW 11/6/2018
I used to dehydrate food when my kids were young. I don't feel it's necessary anymore Report
EMGERBER 9/28/2018
I love dehydrated foods and I make them all the time but I have the advantage of owning a dehydrator and it is worth what it cost me. Report
NIKKI.1111 8/26/2018
Been wanting to try this Report
Great ideas Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Interesting way to process this food. Report
thanks Report
Just what I was looking for going to start today! Report
Kind of like making beef jerky in your oven.. Report
Love dried fruit, it is great for snacking on the go. Report
I will have to try this. Report
Sounds like a fun family project. Report
Sounds fun! Report
Nice information, I try to this as soon in my daily routine.
Love fresh fruit, however it is important to watch portion sizes. Great go-to snack, though. Report
Wow... fantabulous idea prepare dry fruits at home. thanks for sharing a wonderful idea. I am a cake baker specialist at I need to prepare varieties of cake. I just love this idea this will reduce my market visit during the time shortage project. This post is actually very helpful. Thanks.

Preeetika Report
I love dried fruits a snack. Have done it for years and learned something new in this article. Thank you. Report
Love the taste but lots of sugars. Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the tips on how to dry fruit. Most helpful! Report
Good information Report
I used a dehydrater many years ago. This sounds much easier. Report
Oh yes we have a solar drier too! but it's a little small so I use it for chillies and herbs instead. Sometimes if I have a lot of herbs to dry I used the back shelf of my car...smells fantastic! Report
I prefer not to cook my fruit (for strips) so I usually throw my (stoned or pipped) fruit straight into the whizzer with some lemon juice. No added sugar. No need to peel.
Actually. I don't. This is something I get the kids to do while I sit back with a cuppa. ;-) Report
Nice. Report
Great! Report
I am really starting to like dried fruit but cherries?! I might have to try these my family will God bless. Report
I enjoy dried fruit and will now be able to make more--buying all this is expensive! Report
Wow, making dried fruit is much easier than I would have thought. Definitely going to give this a try. Thanks :) Report
If you live in the Southwest (NM, Utah, NV) you can also make it on a cookie sheet in the sun. When we lived in Albuquerque we had fruit trees. We made jams and jellies as well as froze many fresh fruits after blanching for 5 min. But to dry them, just cut very very thing. sprinkle with lemon, lime or other citrus on both sides and leave out in a sunny area. We had a sunroom. It was perfect. Here (LA) our kitchen window works but on a much smaller scale. Depending on the humidity it takes about a day to dry - but be sure. They will mold if they are still damp. Report
Quite a waste of time. Even three hours is too much of wasting energy. Just go buy it from outside. Report
This is so cool. I will definitely try this in the future. It is convenient to carry these in a bag. One can also sprinkle cinnamon etc to mix things up from time to time. Report
this great post I'll try this evening

What a great idea and simple Report
Drying your own fruit (or veggies or meat) is a great way to avoid GMOs, pesticides, preservatives, extra sugar, and other added flavors you might not want. You can keep it to just fruit, or add your own sweetener or spices in moderation.

I used to use the oven when I first started and it worked great. Then I went up to a small dehydrator (you can get cheap ones at Target) but I had two that each died after a year. Then I graduated to the Excalibur, which is the only one that lasts and has a warranty.

So start with the oven and if you like it, work your way up. I'm hooked.

(No, you do not need the pizza screens on top, someone asked.) Report
not everyone has a dehydrator - use one if you have one, if not, you can use the oven (it's on very low temperature) 54 celcius. Might even work in an airing cupboard if it's warm enough? and see BEBEDOUGH's tip lower down the thread (turn oven off half way through - keep door closed). I dried some apple slices today -apples from my own little tree -and they taste fantastic - so much better than bought ones which are just vaguely sweet. Report
does't a dehydrator make more sense and use less energy? Report
It's an easy way to make your own dried sweet potato dog treats too. You know what's in them & save a fortune over the dried yams at the stores!
I've done this when my kids were still living with us. It works pretty good! Report
After the holidays, I'll try this! Great idea!! Report
I was trying to figure out what to do with all my figs, now I know, I'll try drying them. Report
I do this with Kale all the time. My tip - don't run your oven that long (wastes energy/fuel, time and possibly costly appliance part replacements)...instead, cook at recommended temperature for 1/2 the time and then TURN OVEN OFF - leave door shut for the remaining number of hours...or overnight! The oven will hold the temperature long enough to continue the baking process to completion. Report
interesting. may have to try it. just concerned about mold during that 4 or 5 day following taking it out of the oven. Report
you can also dry herbs parsley and mint dill weed hot little peppers lavage and any other herb Report
Wow!! Can't wait to try this!! Since I was a little girl, I couldn't eat fresh/raw fruit or veggies. My mouth would itch, tongue and gums would get swollen. It has gotten worse as I get older. I saw an allergist, who said it is called Oral Pollen Syndrome. I can eat them if things are cooked, the heat takes away the bad stuff!! So I sure hope this works, being every diet says to eat more fruit and veggies!!

I think I will try this next summer! Report
Dried fruit is not a big deal to me...I buy when on sale, do w/o when its not........I suggest if you want to dry your own fruit, buy a dehydrator, leaving your oven on for this length of time is not a good idea, once maybe....but not very often. In winter,some days, I turned my oven on low to warm upthe kitchen. After 3 mornings my heating element burned out and I had to replace my stove. Report