Dried fruit has been a tasty treat for centuries. Modern dehydrators are making it easier than ever before to make your own delicious and healthy dried or dehydrated fruit snacks. Now you can make them all on your own.
These handy devices are great for saving some money on your snacks and promoting healthy eating. They can help prevent food waste since all of those bulk fruit hampers will be put to good use.
Dehydration is an excellent food preservation method and will keep your tasty fruit slices healthy and good for a very long time.
How long does dehydrated fruit last? How long can you store it in the pantry? How do you tell if these food items have gone bad? Finally, what can you do to preserve the flavor and taste of these foods for longer?
In this guide, we have all of the answers.
How Long Does Dehydrated Fruit Last?
Dried fruits typically last 4 to 12 months if it is properly stored. This storage period varies so much because it is greatly affected by factors like fruit type, dehydration method, and storage method.
It’s also common for dried fruit to still be edible well after it reaches its expiry date. This is especially the case for commercial food products that have been prepared and packaged under laboratory conditions.
How Production, Packaging, and Storage Affect Shelf Life
Food products that are dried at home using an oven, air, or direct sunlight are more exposed to contaminants and as such will spoil sooner. Fruit that isn't stored in air-tight containers can also absorb moisture from the air, which can result in mold growth. If the food is exposed to high temperatures and direct light, the color and flavor will be affected.
The Shelf Life of Fruits vs Vegetables
Fruits typically have a much longer shelf life compared to other food items. This is because this food naturally contains sugar, ascorbic acid, citric acid, and antioxidants. These elements help preserve the product for longer.
The Shelf Life of Some Fruits vs Others
The higher the acidic and sugar content of the fruit, the longer it can be stored once dried properly. Fruits like raisins, craisins, prunes, cherries, apricots, mangoes, and blueberries can last 12 months in pantry conditions. They could last many years if these food products were vacuum sealed and stored in a cool environment away from direct light.
Fruits like dates, figs, dried watermelon, banana chips, and other sweet fruits that are low in citric acid content will only last three months in pantry conditions. They could last up to a year if stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers and limited lighting.
How Long Does Fresh Fruit Typically Last?
Fresh food typically lasts 2 - 4 weeks depending on your fruit type. Softer fruits like bananas usually only last a couple of weeks. Other fruits like apples can be stored for up to 4 weeks.
This long shelf life only applies if fruits are stored at cool temperatures. At room temperature, fruits can go bad quicker. Once sliced, fruits will start to go bad within just 2 hours at room temperature.
As you can imagine, dried fruits can last significantly longer. These fruits don't contain any moisture that can cause microbial or mold growth. As a result, it’s more difficult to start the decomposition phase.
How Long Is Dried Fruit Good for After the Expiration Date?
Commercially sold dried fruits usually have an expiry or best-before date printed on the packaging. Just because a food product has reached its expected expiry date does not mean that the food products are unsafe to consume.
Dehydrated fruit can be consumed 6 months up to a year after it reaches its expiration date. This is as long as the container remains unopened and these foods are stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.
If the dried fruits are placed in a freezer, these food items can remain edible indefinitely.
How to Tell if Dried Fruit is Spoiled?
If you want to consume dried fruit that has already reached its expiry date, then you need to carefully inspect the product. Watch out for spoilage before you eat the food. Spoiled dried fruit can cause a tummy ache, or worse, food poisoning.
Here is a quick look at the most important signs that dried fruits might be spoiled.
- The seal on the package is broken. This leaves the food vulnerable to moisture and microbial contamination.
- If you notice mold growth inside the package then it is best to discard the fruit.
- If the dried fruit has a foul or sour odor.
- If there is noticeable discoloration in fruit items that are normally vibrant in color.
- If the fruits taste bland, produce a slight burning sensation, or simply taste off.
How to Make Dehydrated Fruit Last Longer?
There are quite a few strategies that you can try if you want to extend the shelf life of your food products. Proper preparation methods, good storage containers, and proper storage habits are the best methods for keeping your dry fruit fresh for longer. Let's take a closer look at what these different methods entail.
How to Dehydrate Fruit So It Lasts Longer?
The dehydrated foods you buy in the store have been commercially dried in laboratory conditions. These should hold up very well for months in their original unopened packaging as long as you store them well.
If you are making your own dried fruit at home, using a food dehydrator is the best drying process you can use. These handy devices will circulate warm air all around the fruit and extract moisture inside a closed and controlled environment.
With this method, the fruits dry faster and you have more control over the moisture content. Plus, your food is protected from external elements like dust, airborne microbes, and insects.
How to Package Dried Fruit So It Will Last Longer?
Once all of the moisture has been extracted from the fruit and the products have completely dried, it is time to package everything up. Storing dried fruit in airtight containers is a crucial step. If the container isn't airtight the food will gradually absorb moisture from the air and can start to rot.
You can use any type of air-tight packaging including the following.
Vacuum sealing is a great way to store your favorite food for a couple of months because it will keep the fruit nice and dry. This method is unsuitable for extended periods, however. This is because plastic will eventually start to emit toxins that can alter the flavor and aroma of dried fruits.
Pests like insects and rodents can get into this type of packaging easily and will break the seal or cause food to contaminate. Vacuum sealing also doesn't form a 100% seal and your dried fruits can start to absorb moisture over time.
Airtight Plastic Containers
Plastic containers with an airtight seal are a slightly better alternative to vacuum sealing. This is especially for maintaining moisture levels. These airtight containers will keep moisture from getting into your food and they will also keep out harmful pests.
Glass jars are best for long-term storage. Pests cannot get into these packages at all, and glass doesn't produce any toxins or odors that can affect your food product.
Add Oxygen Absorbers
A great way to keep dried fruit from absorbing small amounts of moisture is by adding oxygen absorbers to the package. These absorbers will keep the food dry and free from water content even if the container isn't 100% airtight.
How to Store Dried Fruit to Make Them Last Longer?
Once the dried fruits have been properly packaged, you need to be careful to place them in a suitable area. This place should keep them from being exposed to elements that can affect their condition. Here is a quick look at the best storage strategies to keep fruits fresh for longer.
Store Away From Direct Light
First, you will want to store the fruit away from direct light or sunlight. Sunlight or direct bulb light can alter the color and flavor of the dried fruit over time. It’s best to keep these products stored in a dark cabinet or spot in the back of your pantry.
Store in a Cool Area
High storage temperatures can also reduce the shelf life of dried fruit and affect its nutritional value. It’s best to store dry fruit in a cool area with a minimum temperature of about 50 degrees F. Storing food in a cool area is especially important for long-term food storage.
Refrigerate the Dried Fruit
Dried fruits that are packaged in an air-tight container can last indefinitely if these food items are refrigerated. If you are afraid your food might become spoiled, the best thing you can do is pop them in the freezer.
The key here is to ensure that the food is packaged properly. Without an airtight enclosure, dried fruit will absorb moisture from the freezer and will quickly become spoiled. This is also how freezer burn can occur on your fruit slices.
So how long does dehydrated fruit last? Homemade dried fruit typically lasts 4 - 12 months. Dried fruits can be consumed long after this time and stored for much longer if you keep them in the right conditions.
There are many factors that can affect the condition and shelf life of your food. We hope that this guide offered some helpful tips so you can create lots of healthy dried fruit treats. Now you can keep these treats healthy and fresh for as long as possible.
If you want to learn more about dried foods, we welcome you to have a look at some of the other guides we have on Healthy Meals Hub. We discuss the best electric dehydrators, and other great tips to make your dried products last longer.
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