How To Dehydrate Fruit Without A Dehydrator

How To Dehydrate Fruit Without A Dehydrator: A Guide

Everyone knows fruits and veggies are an essential part of a healthy diet. 

But unfortunately, sometimes fruit will go bad faster than you can eat it. 

Luckily, there are a handful of ways you can prevent throwing away your food at the end of the week. 

One of the most popular ways of preserving your food is using a dehydrator

Investing in a good dehydrator can get expensive. 

But no worries. Today we are going to show you how to dehydrate fruit without a dehydrator.

Let's get started. 

How To Dehydrate Fruit Without A Dehydrator

What Foods Can Be Dehydrated?

Before we share our tips and tricks, let's clarify what can be dehydrated. Even though you can dehydrate pretty much any fresh fruit, not all fruits dehydrate the same. Here are some of the most common dehydrated food items:

  • Fruit: Apples, bananas, cherries, pears, apricots, berries, plums, etc. They can be used for yummy, on-the-go snacks or pureed into fruit leather. 
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, carrots, beans, onions, mushrooms, etc. Dried veggies are commonly used in soups and stews or backpacking meals. 
  • Meat and Fish: Chicken, ground beef, turkey, sliced or cured meats, beef jerky, fresh fish, etc. Also, they are commonly used for backpacking meals or for adding to stews or soups.
  • Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. When soaked after sprouting, nuts and seeds can be dried to make them more digestible. 
  • Herbs: Basil, oregano, dill, mint, parsley, lemon balm, etc. They are typically used in teas or baking. 

Pro Tip: When selecting your fruits, go for the ripe ones. They will have more flavor.

After you have dried your choice of foods, you can reap the benefits by adding them to your daily diet. Dried foods are perfect for smoothies and snacks, especially for hiking and camping. 

Here's some more amazing benefits of dehydrating food:

  • Allows you to buy in season and preserve for later.
  • You can save time from shopping. 
  • You can buy in bulk when prices are low.
  • You'll get a great supply of antioxidants and fiber.
  • They take up less space in your cabinets.
  • Great for snacks while traveling.

How to Prepare Food for Dehydrating

To ensure the food will dry evenly, prepare the food by slicing the pieces into evenly thick pieces. If the pieces are dried thoroughly, it is very likely they will spoil while in storage. We recommend slicing fruit into ¼ - ½ inches thick. There are tools such as an apple slicer that will help ensure your pieces are cut the same. If all you have is a sharp paring knife, that will get the job done as well. 

We also recommend using a peeler to remove the skin from most foods. By removing the skin, you avoid bacteria or chemicals trapped in the skin. 

If you're drying food to use for soup or stews, you may want to have a food processor to mince and dice any foods as necessary. 

Pro Tip: If you do not have a peeler, you can use a simple hack. First, place the fruit in boiling water for 60 seconds. Second, dip the fruit in cold water for an additional 60 seconds or until the skin starts to lift from the fruit. Finally, the skin should quickly come off the fruit. This works well on peaches, apricots, and tomatoes. 

If you are looking to preserve the color, you can use the following to extend the shelf life of your dehydrated foods:

  • Ascorbic Acid: Start by dissolving 1 tbsp of pure ascorbic acid into one qt of water. Next, add the sliced fruits and let them sit for no more than 1 hour. Once they are done soaking, remove, drain, and rinse them off before adding them to the trays you will be using for dehydrating.
  • Citric Acid: Begin by dissolving 1 tbsp of citric acid (in crystalline form) into one qt of water. Add the fruit and soak for no more than 1 hour to give your fruit a tarter taste. You can typically find citric acid at your local grocery store. 
  • Lemon Juice: Stir 1 cup of lemon juice into one qt of water and dip fruit into the mixture for no more than 10 minutes. Fruit juice is typically not as effective as ascorbic acid, but it will leave a fruit tart taste.
  • Sodium Bisulfite: To start, dissolve 1 tsp of sodium bisulfite powder into one qt of water. Next, soak the fruit slices for 2 minutes at a time. It would be best if you never reused a sodium bisulfite mixture because it becomes less effective. Additionally, be aware that sulfite allergies are possible when using this method to prep your fruit. 

How to Dehydrate Fruit Using the Oven

Using an oven is the most common way to dehydrate food. It is easy to do and requires minimal attention. However, it's also the least efficient way to dehydrate food. 

Nevertheless, here's how you do it:

First, turn your oven on to the lowest setting, between 130-160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is ready, place the fruit on the parchment paper-lined tray. Now place the tray in the middle of the oven, leave them to dry for 6 to 12 hours. 

How To Dehydrate Fruit Without A Dehydrator

To give you a better idea of how long to dry your fruit, here is a list of popular dehydrated fruits and their average drying times:

  • Peaches, plums, pears, apples, and bananas = 6 hours
  • Apricots, Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries = 12 hourse
  • Grapes (raisins) and citrus peels = 8 hours

If you would prefer to dry your fruits faster, you can set the oven temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. But beware, you'll lose a lot of flavors the higher the temperature is. 

Please note: all ovens are different, so it will take some trial and error to figure out the right amount of time for your oven.

The best fruits to dehydrate in the oven include:

  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Pears

Pro Tip: If you have a cooling rack, place it over the baking sheet. This encourages airflow underneath the food being dried. Plus, you can leave the oven door slightly open while the fruit is drying to let out moisture. Keep in mind: airflow is just as necessary as temperature when drying fruit. 

How to Dehydrate Fruit Using the Sun

Sun drying is usually more common for herbs, but you can use it for fruits as well. Tomatoes are commonly dried in the sun because it adds an extra level of sweetness to them. 

If you choose to dry your fruit in the sun, you will have to be patient as it can take a few days for the fruit to dry to perfection. 

First, you want to line a tray and place the slices of fruit in a single layer close to one another. 

Next, place the tray in a spot that gets a lot of sunlight. 

The outside temperature will need to be at least 85 degrees Fahrenheit to sun-dry food. This means you will need to bring the trays inside at night.

People in colder climates make sure to dry foods during the summer months. With the proper preparations, you dry food that will last you until next summer. 

Some of the best fruits to dry in the sun include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Apricots
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Grapes (raisins)
  • Pears

Pro Tip: Place mesh/net material or cheesecloth on top of the dying fruit to keep flies, bees, and other insects out. 

If you are looking to dry out some herbs, we recommend making a herb-drying box. If you aren't into building things, you can hang the herbs using twist ties. This allows you to adjust the herbs as they shrink as they dry out. 

How to Dehydrate Fruit Using a Toaster Oven

Using a toaster oven to dehydrate food is the same as using a regular oven. 

Set the oven to bake at the lowest temperature. Then leave the fruit to dry in the toaster oven with the door slightly open to allow the moisture to escape. 

The amount of time the fruit takes to dry may take an hour or two longer than it would in an oven. It is also essential that you keep your eye on the fruit as it may need some rotating to get the fruit to dry evenly. 

How to Use a Microwave to Dehydrate Food

It is probably one of the less common ways to dehydrate food in the microwave, but it still gets the job done. 

For the most part, the microwave works best for fruits and herbs that dry quickly. 

Due to the wide range of wattage by microwaves, it will take some testing to determine how long your food will dry. We recommend starting with 10-minute increments on the highest setting and using a glass plate for the best results.

Pro Tip: If you like your dried fruit crispy, add the microwave dried fruit to the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Once they have sat to cool, you can enjoy the extra crispy fruit snacks. 

For those of you who like the added challenge, try making your dehydrator at home. 

How to Store Dehydrated Fruit

We recommend storing dried foods in an airtight container or plastic bag. You will want to place them in a cool, dark place. 

How To Dehydrate Fruit Without A Dehydrator

For the first week of storage, check containers daily for signs of moisture. If condensation occurs, you will need to lay the fruit out again to dry a little bit more. 

Popular Do-It-Yourself Recipes

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Apple Chips

This is one of our favorites. 

The recipe makes four servings and takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes to prep and cook. All you need is the following:

  • 2 apples
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar

To get started:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Slice the apples into ⅛ inch thick pieces. Combine the apple slices, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. 
  3. Place the cinnamon-sugar coated slices onto the baking sheet in a single layer. It would be best if you didn't overlap the pieces because this will cause them to dry differently. 
  4. Once both sheets are completely lined with apple slices, place them in the oven for one hour. 
  5. Once the first hour is back, remove the baking sheets from the oven, flip the apple slices, and place them back in the oven for another hour. 

After the second hour, turn the oven off but leave the baking sheets in the oven to cool completely. This allows the apples to crisp up, making them the perfect, delicious snack.

Healthy Baked Banana Chips

Another one of our favorites is the banana chips from A Spicy Perspective

The great thing about this recipe is that you only need two ingredients:

  1. 4 firm bananas
  2. 2 juiced lemons

To get started:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. While the oven is preheating, peel and slice the banana into ⅛ inch thick slices. If you have a mandolin slicer, this will make it easier to cut the banana into even pieces.
  3. Dip the banana slices in the lemon juice and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer.
  4. Again, make sure they are not touching or overlapping to ensure they dry evenly.
  5. Bake the banana chips for 1 - 1 ½ hours.
  6. Once the banana chunks easily peel off the parchment paper, flip them over, and place them back in the oven for another 1 - 1 ½ hours. 
  7. Leave the chips to cool, so they crisp up before placing them in an airtight container. 

If you want them to last for a long time, store them in your freezer instead of a cool, dark place in your pantry. For added flavor, sprinkle the banana chips with sea salt or cinnamon. 

Conclusion

Know you know how to dehydrate fruit without a dehydrator. And here's the funny thing: It's nothing new. Humans have been drying foods without a dehydrator from time immemorial. 

So if you ever think you can't dehydrate your own... remember, it's practically in your DNA.

Now I challenge you to try one of these techniques and create one of these delicious recipes from the guide. 

So, which method will you try first? 

About the Author Healthy Meals

We came together to help others do what we love to do - eat lots of (healthy) food, Like you, we have been eating all of our lives, and wanted to take it to the next level. If you enjoy the articles, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

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