Pretreating fruits with citric acid or lemon juice solutions before drying helps to keep light-colored fruits from darkening and serves as an antimicrobial treatment for all fruits. To make a citric acid solution, mix 1 teaspoon of citric acid into 1 quart of cold water. A lemon juice solution is made by mixing equal parts of lemon juice and cold water. To pretreat fruit, soak the peeled and/or sliced fruit in the solution for ten minutes. Drain fruit well and pat dry before filling dehydrator trays.
|Fruit||Preparation||Testing for Dryness|
|Apples||Peel (if desired) and core. Cut into rings or slices about 1/4-inch thick. Dip in lemon juice solution to avoid darkening.||Leathery and pliable with no moist areas in center.|
|Apricots||Remove pits. Cut in halves and press flat to break up fibers that hold moisture. Treat to avoid darkening.||Leathery and pliable with no moist areas in center.|
|Bananas||Do not use bruised or over-ripe bananas. Peel and cut into 1/8-inch slices. Treat to avoid darkening.||Leathery. Dried bananas will be sticky even when dry due to sugar content.|
|Berries (blueberries, cranberries)||Crack skins by dipping berries in boiling water for 30 seconds. Spread on trays in single layer.||Hard.|
|Cherries||Remove pits and cut in half, or dip whole cherries in boiling water for 30 seconds to crack skins.||Shriveled and leathery. Some varieties are sticky even when dried.|
|Citrus fruits (peel)||Remove 1/8-inch of outer peel (use only no-color-added fruit). Remove all white areas. Arrange in a single layer on the tray.||Crisp.|
|Figs||Leave small figs whole or cut larger figs in half. Crack skins of whole figs by dipping in boiling water for 30 seconds. Dry skin side down.||Leathery, pliable, slightly sticky.|
|Grapes||Use seedless varieties. Cut in half or crack skins by dipping whole grapes in boiling water for 30 seconds.||Leathery and sticky with no moist areas in center.|
|Nectarines, peaches||Peel, remove pit, and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Dip in lemon juice solution to prevent darkening.||Leathery and pliable with no moist areas in center.|
|Pears||Slice 1/4 inch thick (peeled or unpeeled). Dip in lemon juice solution to prevent darkening.||Leathery and chewy.|
|Pineapples||Cut into 1/2-inch slices.||Pliable and crisp. Somewhat sticky.|
|Plums||Dry small plums whole. Cut larger plums in half or slice 1/2 inch thick. Crack skins on whole plums by dipping in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.||Leathery and pliable.|
|Rhubarb||Slice 3/8 inch thick crosswise.||Brittle.|
|Strawberries||Cut into 1/4-inch slices.||Hard.|
When some fruits come out of the dehydrator, they are not uniformly dry. Thinner pieces and outer edges are always dryer than the centers, so these foods must be conditioned if they are to be stored successfully. Conditioning simply means storing the foods in a covered glass container for approximately four to ten days until the moisture is evenly distributed. If condensation appears on the inside of the glass lid, it is an indication that the food inside has not been sufficiently dried, and the drying time must be extended or the food will mold.
Package dehydrated fruits in plastic freezer bags or glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Pack the containers tightly without crushing the fruit, and store in a dry, dark place in a cool environment.