How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

The practice of drying the fruit goes back thousands of years and the first documented cases date back to around 1700 BC. Since it has continued to enjoy success over the years, there are many reasons behind this form of food preservation. Many of us buy dried fruit products at the supermarket or at a nearby health store without much thought.

Learning to dry fruit can be a truly valuable skill. It is important to understand that there are several drying methods. It is also good to remember that you should select and prepare your fruit properly to enjoy the best results.

Why dry fruit?

If you are looking for details on how to make dried fruit, you may already be aware of some of the benefits. However, there are many more advantages than you can realize. First, the dried fruit tastes great! You can not deny the delicious taste, regardless of the type of fruit you choose. Many dried fruits contain concentrated doses of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, iron and contain no fat. Extra iron helps fight anemia and fiber helps with digestion.

Fresh products only last a certain amount of time before they start to spoil. Drying can help you preserve them for much longer. It can also mean that you can enjoy them even if they are no longer in season. This is wonderful to satisfy any craving!

You do not need to refrigerate dry foods. They need to be stored correctly, but they will not take up space in your refrigerator. In fact, they will also occupy much less space in your cabinets. Since they do not require refrigeration, you can carry a fair amount in your bag when you go on a field trip or even if you camp for a week or more.

Do you lose nutritional value?

In addition to wondering how to make your own dried fruit, you may be interested in the nutritional value of dry products versus fresh ones. It is good to understand exactly how drying affects the fruit itself, so you can make the most of its nutritional benefits.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

First, a serving of dried fruit will look less than a serving of fresh fruit. This is because, when they are fresh, they take up more space and drying creates a more compact product. Properties such as the amount of calories and the sugar content remain the same, while certain amounts of vitamins and minerals are lower in dehydrated varieties.

It’s worth mentioning the difference, as it will affect the way you plan your diet. Of course, if you are in an emergency situation and, for some reason, can not eat fresh fruit, it is best to dry. Even if you lose a significant amount of vitamins and minerals during the drying process, it is a better addition to any diet compared to junk food and snacks.

Adequate storage guidelines

When you make dried fruits at home, you will undergo a process similar to that used by professionals. Once the drying process is complete, it is essential that you follow the correct storage guidelines to ensure that the finished product does not spoil prematurely. Yes, dried fruits have an expiration date, although relatively long. The amount of time it will retain will depend on the conditions in which it is stored.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

First, you will have to keep the humidity. Moisture in the air can re-enter the dry product, and this can cause it to spoil. A good way to do this is to use freezer bags and seal them under vacuum to avoid contact with the air. Secondly, if you use sulfur during the drying process, you must ensure that you do not place the finished product in any type of metal container. Place it in a plastic bag before storing it in a can if necessary.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

Third, always keep the finished product in a cool, dry and dark place. Once you open a bag, keep the rest of the contents open in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for longer.

Finally, do not try to pack everything in a bag. Make smaller batches for better storage and inspect them regularly. Your dry product should last from four months to a year, provided it has dried and stored properly.

Pretreatment procedures

No matter what method you use to make dried fruit, you must understand the importance of preparing your fruit before continuing. First, you should select ripe, firm and sweet fruits. Avoid any fresh product that seems to be about to perish or that is too mature. Wash and dry your fruit to clean any dirt. Depending on the type of fruit you are drying, you may need to spread the fruit, remove the skin or crack it to facilitate the drying process.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

Ascorbic acid and citric acid can be applied to prevent the fruit from becoming discolored as it dries. There are several ways to apply this substance. Be sure to follow the instructions. Lemon juice can also be used to prevent discoloration. To use this method, mix the lemon juice with cold water in a 1: 1 ratio. Allow the cleaned and cut fruit to soak in this solution for ten minutes before draining it and dehydrating it.

Sodium metabisulfite (sulfur) can be used to reduce deterioration and prevent discoloration, but it should be used with extreme caution. If you are sensitive to sulfites, you must choose another method.

Methods of drying fruits

When you read the following methods, you will notice how easy it is to prepare dried fruits at home. The method you select will depend on your personal preferences, the amount of time you have available and whether you are willing to invest in certain equipment.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

If you intend to dry fairly large quantities of fresh produce on a regular basis, you may want to consider investing in specialized equipment.

Baked in the oven

What will you need:

  • Oven
  • Baking trays
  • Parchment paper
  • Preparation equipment such as a cutting board and knife or slicer
  • Citric acid or similar product to prevent oxidation (optional)
  • Fresh fruit of your choice.

Instructions

  • Start by selecting and preparing your fruit. All the fruit must be ripe but not too ripe. All the fruit should be washed properly and, depending on the type of product, you may have to peel the skin, crack it or remove the center. The berries will not need to be cut into slices, but other types of fruits should be cut as thinly as possible.
  • Choose a method to preserve attractive appearance (sulfites, lemon juice, citric acid, etc.)
  • Preheat your oven to 130-160 degrees F. For thinly sliced ​​fruits, use the lowest temperature. Berries do better with a slightly higher temperature because they are thicker.
  • Prepare your leaf trays by organizing parchment paper in each.
  • Arrange the fruit in the pans in a single layer. Do not allow them to touch each other or it could cause them to burn.
  • Use a bread eyeliner or pizza rack to prevent hair from bending during the drying process.
  • Place the molds in the oven and be sure to rotate them every 2 hours.
  • When you realize that the fruit is similar to a leather but still flexible, it is ready.
  • Plums, pears, bananas and apples usually take about 6 hours to dry. It will take 8 to 10 hours for grapes and citrus peel, while apricots, cherries and strawberries take approximately 12 hours.
  • Once it is ready, place the finished products in plastic or glass containers and allow them to cure for approximately 5 to 10 days. This allows the remaining moisture to evaporate before packing. Move the fruit every day giving them a good shake.
  • Once the process has been completed, it is time to pack, seal and store in the right conditions.

Using a dehydrator

What will you need:

  • A dehydrator
  • Preparation equipment such as a cutting board and knife or slicer
  • Citric acid or similar product to prevent oxidation (optional)

Instructions

  • Like the steps mentioned above, you should prepare your fresh fruit and cut it into thin slices. Treat your fruits prone to oxidation with some type of citrus juice to avoid darkening during the drying process.
  • Load your dehydrator and make sure that none of the slices overlap each other or this will make the process take longer.
  • Turn on the dehydrator and select the temperature according to the instructions. Remember to dry similar fruits, but do not combine them with different drying times or temperatures.
  • On average, the process should take between 8 and 12 hours to complete. As the end of the drying time approaches, you should regularly check the contents of the dehydrator. Remove a slice, let it cool and examine it. If it is dry to the touch, it is most likely done. You can carry out the tests one step further by cutting slices in half and checking the moisture.
  • Once the drying is complete, you should let it cool for about 30 to 60 minutes (or until it is cool to the touch).
  • Place it in a glass or plastic jar and let the remaining moisture escape. Shake the bottle daily and, after 5 to 10 days, you can place it in a long-term storage container.
  • Remember that you should never add fresh slices to the dehydrator when a load is already in progress.
  • The thickness of its slices will determine the drying time. Other factors that affect death times include temperature, the amount of water in the food, the general humidity on that day and the altitude.

Sun-dried

What will you need:

  • Plastic screen or frame with cheesecloth
  • Glass sheet and / or plastic grid.
  • Preparation equipment such as a cutting board and knife or slicer
  • Citric acid or similar product to prevent oxidation (optional)
  • Fresh fruit of your choice.

Instructions

  • Prepare your fruit as you would in any other drying method.
  • Prepare an attempt to dry with a plastic screen or you can use a frame with a gauze stretched over it. You can prevent the cheesecloth from folding when you cross the rope at the bottom of the frame. Secure the rope in place by stapling it in the corners.
  • Submerge the prepared fruit in salt water. Mix 6 tablespoons of pickling salt with one gallon of water to get the correct ratio.
  • It is possible that some fresh products should be scalded by steaming for approximately 5 minutes before placing them in ice water.
  • Drain the fruit and dry it to remove excess water.
  • Some fruits work well when using a honey bath. Make the honey bath by mixing 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of honey and 3 cups of water.
  • You can also use a citrus juice bath to avoid oxidation.
  • Separate the fruit in a drying tray and make sure there is enough space between them. You do not want them to touch or overlap.
  • To help magnify the sun’s rays, place a sheet of glass on top. It is also important to make sure there is enough space between the fruit and the glass for air circulation. Proper ventilation is part of any good drying process.
  • Put the tray in the sun for 2 to 4 days. The drying time will depend on several factors, among them, the drying, the thickness of the slices and the climatic conditions.
  • You should bring your tray inside if it rains and every night so that moisture does not accumulate in the fruit.
  • After drying, give the fruit a little stir and do this several times a day for a few days. This helps even out the batch since the moisture in some of the fruits is transferred to the slices in the dryer.
  • Do not forget to store the finished product in a sealed bag or in an airtight container for maximum shelf life. Inspect regularly for dubious parts and make sure to discard them.
  • Remember that there are many ways to dry foods in the sun and the details will depend on the type of food you are drying.

Microwave drying

What will you need:

  • Microwave
  • Paper plates
  • Cooling rack
  • Preparation equipment such as a cutting board and knife or slicer
  • Citric acid or similar product to prevent oxidation (optional)
  • Fresh fruit of your choice.

Instructions

  • Prepare the fruit as you would for any other drying method.
  • Place the slices on a paper plate and make sure they do not overlap or touch each other.
  • Microwave at 30% power for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Check your fruit and, if necessary, turn them over and cook them in the microwave at 30% power for a couple of additional minutes.
  • Let the fruit dry on a cooling rack and not on the paper plates, as they may stick together.
  • Let them air dry and, after a couple of days, store them in an appropriate container.

Making fruit leather

If you feel like something different, maybe you would like to try fruit leather. There are many different recipes, but they all follow the same basic steps.

What will you need:

  • A large pan with lid
  • Fruit of your choice
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Spices (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Plastic wrap
  • Masher
  • Food processor, blender, grinder or chinois.

Instructions

  • Prepare ripe fruit by washing it thoroughly and inspecting it for damage. Depending on the type of fruit you are using, you should remove the seeds or seeds, peel them, peel them, remove them from the stem and cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Be sure to try the fruit before continuing. You will have to add sugar based on the sweetness of the fruit. The sweeter it is, the less sugar you will need to add. If they are really sweet, you may not need to add sugar at all.
  • Place the fruit in a large saucepan and add the water. For every 4 cups of fruit, you must add half a cup of water. Once the water reaches a boil over low heat, let it cook covered over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and give a good stir to the contents of the pot. Mash the fruit with a potato grinder and try it to check again the amount of sugar you should add. Be sure to add small amounts of sugar at a time. Add only one tablespoon of sugar at a time until it reaches the desired level of sweetness.
  • Add a little lemon juice. Mix just one teaspoon at a time to help highlight the flavor.
  • Continue stirring and simmering the fruit puree until the sugar has dissolved and mixed properly. After approximately 5 to 10 minutes, the mixture should thicken.
  • Use a blender, food processor, food mill or chinois to obtain a smooth texture.
  • Try again to make sure it is sweet enough, and add more lemon juice, sugar and other spices if necessary.
  • Cover an edge baking sheet with microwave-safe plastic wrap and spread the puree over it.
  • Make sure the plastic does not touch the sides of the oven and that it does not bend over the puree.
  • Place the baking sheet inside the oven and heat at 140 ° F. The convection function really helps to speed up the drying process. This usually takes 8 and 12 hours.
  • You’ll know it’s ready once the puree is smooth and no longer sticky.
  • Remove from the baking sheet by rolling up. Roll with the plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Uses for dried fruit.

After exploring the various simple ways to make dried fruit, you may be wondering exactly how you can make good use of all your efforts. Well, besides enjoying them as a delicious snack, you can also serve them in a colorful fountain for your guests or add them to various recipes.

Some dried fruits are just what you need to transform a good salad into an excellent one. Dried cranberries, for example, taste delicious in a green salad topped with toasted nuts and grilled chicken nuggets.

Dried apricots are an important part of any Thai curried chicken or chicken curry with almonds. In fact, there are several types of fruits that can be added to curries, such as prunes and peaches. You can brown or roast several types of meat with different fruits to enhance the flavor. For dessert, you can make a delicious fruit cake, dried fruit bars or cookies.

How to Dry Fruit: Preserving Healthy, Nutritional Food

You can even add some to your breakfast cereal. There are many quality cereals available that add dried fruits for extra flavor and nutrients. Simply buy a simple cereal and create your own flavor.

Choose what suits you best

A good guide to remember is to experiment with several methods to dry the fruit before choosing your favorite. Some methods involve the use of equipment you already have at home, while others will require some investment. It is a good idea to try the easiest methods first and use what you have at hand. Try small amounts of fruit and try something easy to start (like apples).

Remember, when you stock up on nutritious foods that have a long shelf life, you will always be prepared for any type of emergency. You can not always predict when a disaster may occur and, if caught in the middle of everything, you will need a reliable food supply.

CONSERVATION OF FOOD

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