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Drying Food

Fruits

Fruit Preparation of Fresh Fruit Appearance of
Dried Fruit
Drying Time Fresh and Dried Amounts
Apples Peel (optional), core, slice Leathery 6-8 hrs 1 lb (3) = 3/4 c
Apricots Peel (optional), pit, slice, anti-oxidant dip Leathery 12-18 hrs 1 lb (12) = 2/3 c
Bananas Peel, slice, anti-oxidant dip, honey dip (optional) Leathery 6-8 hrs 3 med = 1 c;2 c = 1 c
Blueberries Wash, drain, split skin Chewy 12-14 hrs 1 lb = 1 c
Cherries Wash, halve, remove pit Chewy 18-24 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Citrus Zest Wash in hot water, trim pith, chop Crisp, then grate 6-8 hrs  
Cranberries Wash, split skin Chewy 18-24 hrs  
Currants, Black Wash, split skin Chewy 18-24 hrs  
Figs Wash, halve Chewy 36-48 hrs 3 lb = 1 lb
Grapes Wash, split skin Chewy (raisins) 24-48 hrs 1 lb = 2/3 c
Papayas Remove seeds, peel, slice Leathery 10-12 hrs  
Peaches (Nectarines) Peel (optional), pit, slice, anti-oxidant dip Leathery 10-12 hrs 1 lb (4) = 1/2 c
Pears Peel, core, slice, anti-oxidant dip Leathery 12-18 hrs 1 lb (3) = 1/2 c
Persimmons Peel, slice Chewy 18-24 hrs  
Pineapple Peel, core, slice, honey dip (optional) Chewy 24-36 hrs  
Plums Halve, remove pit, slice Chewy (prunes) 18-24 hrs 1 lb (13) = 3/4 c
Raspberries Wash Brittle 24-48 hrs  
Rhubarb Slice, honey dip (optional) Hard 8-12 hrs  
Strawberries Hull, slice, honey dip (optional) Hard 12-18 hrs  

(Times are for fruits dried in a dehydrator at 115° F.)

Fruit Leather
5/8 c water   to taste lemon juice (optional)
5 cfresh fruit, coarsely chopped to tastecinnamon (optional)
5 T - 3/4 cgranulated sugar   
      Remove pits if necessary. Simmer the unpeeled fruit in the water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Puree the softened fruit, then add the sugar and flavorings.
      Spread the puree on a prepared tray, to 1/4-inch thick. Dry at 120° F for 6 to 8 hours, until leathery.
      Roll the fruit leather in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container. The fruit roll will keep for 6 months in the cupboard, and much longer in the refrigerator.
      Variation: Combine different fruits (apple and rhubarb, rhubarb and strawberry, strawberry and banana, etc.) in the puree. Or, omit the cooking and use a jar of applesauce. Applesauce leather can be eaten as is or reconstituted with water.
      Yields one 11 x 17-inch piece of fruit leather.


Vegetables

Vegetable Preparation of Fresh Vegetable Appearance of
Dried Vegetable
Drying Time Fresh and Dried Amounts
Artichoke hearts Slice, blanch 5 min Brittle    
Asparagus Wash, chop, blanch 5 min Brittle 8-10 hrs  
Beets Trim, peel, slice, blanch until tender Hard 8-10 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Broccoli Wash, trim, chop, blanch 3 1/2 min Crisp 12-18 hrs  
Cabbage Core, shred, blanch 2-3 min Brittle 12-15 hrs 1 1/2 lb (small head) = 1 c
Carrots Scrub, slice, blanch 3-4 min Leathery 12-18 hrs 1 lb (6 med) = 1 c
Cauliflower Chop, blanch 3 min Crisp 12-15 hrs  
Celery Slice Crisp 12-18 hrs 1 bunch = 1 c
Corn Blanch until not milky (1-3 min), cut kernels from cob Hard, dry 8-12 hrs 6 ears = 1 c
Cucumbers Wash, slice Crisp 9-11 hrs  
Eggplant Peel, slice 1/4-in, blanch 4 min Leathery 18-24 hrs 1 med = 1 c
Garlic Peel, mince Crisp, then powder 6-8 hrs 1 clove = 1/8 t
Green beans Wash, trim, halve, blanch 4 min Leathery 8-14 hrs 1 lb = 1 c
Kohlrabi Peel, slice, blanch 3-4 min Crisp 18-24 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Leeks Wash, slice well into green part Like parchment, not brittle 12-24 hrs 1 med = 1 c
Mushrooms Wash, slice Leathery 8-12 hrs 1 lb = 1 3/4 c
Okra Wash, trim, slice 1/4-in Brittle 8-12 hrs  
Olives Pit, halve Hard 10 hrs  
Onions, yellow Peel, chop Brittle 12-24 hrs 1 lb = 1 2/3 c
Onions, green (Scallions) Separate white part from green, chop Crisp 8-12 hrs  
Parsley (Herbs) Wash, separate, trim stems, chop Crisp 6-8 hrs 1 bunch = 1/2 c;
2 T = 1 t
Parsnips Peel, slice or chop, blanch 4 min Crisp 8-12 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Peas Shell, blanch 3 min Hard 12-18 hrs 1 lb = 2/3 c
Peppers, bell Halve, clean, slice Leathery 8-12 hrs 2 (1 lb) = 1 1/4 c
Peppers, chile Wash, seed, slice Crisp 12-18 hrs  
Potatoes Slice, blanch 6-8 min or soak <10 min anti-oxidant dip Brittle 12-18 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Potatoes, sweet
(Yams)
Bake 30-45 min, peel, slice Hard, brittle 12-18 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Pumpkin Trim, remove seeds, peel, slice, blanch 3 min, puree (optional) Leathery; Puree--brittle, then powder 12-18 hrs 1 med = 1/2 c
Radishes Trim, slice Crisp 8-10 hrs  
Rutabagas Trim, wash, slice, blanch 4 min Crisp 8-12 hrs  
Spinach Wash, blanch 3 min, chop Crisp 12-18 hrs  
Squash, summer
(zucchini)
Wash, slice Crisp 6-8 hrs 1 lb = 1 3/4 c
Squash, winter Clean, peel, chop, cook 30-45 min, puree Dry, brittle, then powder 6-8 hrs 1 med = 1/2 c
Tomatoes Wash, slice Brittle 14-18 hrs 1 lb = 1 1/4 c
Turnips Peel, slice, blanch 4 min Hard, crisp 12-18 hrs 1 lb = 3/4 c
Zucchini Wash, slice Crisp 12-18 hrs 1 med = 1/2 c

(Times are for vegetables dried in a dehydrator at 120° F.)

Tomato Sauce Leather
1/2 c minced onion   1 t salt
2minced garlic cloves 1/8 tsugar
1 Tolive oil to tasteground black pepper
2 6-oz canstomato paste   
      Saute onion and garlic in oil until they are translucent. Add remaining ingredients. Spread tomato sauce on a prepared tray, to 1/4-inch thick. Dry at 120° F for ~6 hours, until leathery.
      Roll the cooled tomato leather in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.
      To Prepare:  For a sauce, bring 4 c water and 11 x 17-inch piece of leather, torn into small pieces, to a boil while stirring to dissolve.
      Note:  Do not overly dry the tomato leather; a strong, unpleasant taste will occur.
      Yields on 6-ounce (11 x 17-inch piece) tomato leather.


Legumes

Dehydrated Refried Beans
  hot water   to taste salt
2 cdry pinto, black, or red beans 3garlic cloves, minced
1 medonion, minced 4 Tolive oil
      Cover the beans with boiling water. Let stand overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. Add fresh water and bring to a boil. Add onion and one garlic clove. Cover and simmer for ~2 hours, until the beans are soft. Season with salt.
      In a large skillet saute the 2 remaining garlic cloves in the oil. Using a slotted spoon place the beans in the skillet. Add a small amount of cooking liquid and mash the beans. Simmer to a thick consistency.
      Spread the beans on a prepared tray and dry at 120° F for 6 to 8 hours.
      To Prepare:  For 2 cups of refried beans, bring 1 c water and 1 c dehydrated beans to a boil. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let stand until water is absorbed (~5 minutes).
      Yields ~3 cups of dehydrated beans.

Dried Lentils
4 c water   2 med onions, finely chopped
2 clentils, washed and drained 1/4 colive oil
      Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onions. Saute until onions are tender but not browned. Add lentils. Saute 1 minute. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until lentils are tender and water is absorbed.
      Spread the lentils on a prepared tray and dry at 120° F for 6 to 8 hours.
      To Prepare:  For 2 cups of cooked lentils, bring 1 c water and 1 c dried lentils to boil. Cover the pot, remove from heat, and let stand until water is absorbed (~5 minutes).
      Yields ~3 cups of dried lentils.


Pretreatments

Steam Blanching
      In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring some water to boil. Loosely place the vegetables in a steam basket or colander and set inside the pot. The vegetables should be well above the water level, but close enough to allow the steam to circulate freely through the pieces. Cover the pot and keep the heat high enough for the water to boil rapidly. Steam the vegetables for the specified time, then plunge them into cold water. Drain the vegetables well.
      Note:  At high altitudes add one minute to the steaming time for each two thousand feet of elevation.

Anti-Oxidant Dips
      Salt Dip:  Dissolve two tablespoons each of salt and vinegar or three to six tablespoons of salt only in one gallon of water.
      Ascorbic Acid Dip:  Dissolve one and a half tablespoons of ascorbic acid or five thousand milligrams of vitamin C tablets in one quart of water.
      Citric Acid Dip:  Dissolve one and a half teaspoons of citric acid or dilute one quarter of a cup of lemon juice in one quart of water.

Honey Dip
      Dissolve one cup of honey in two cups of boiling water. Cool the dip before adding the fruit.


Drying Methods

      Drying temperatures should be kept between 100° F and 150° F, but never exceed 170° F. Spread food on a prepared tray in as thin a layer as possible. Arrange produce and meats in a single layer with the pieces not touching each other. Sauces and purees should be spread to a depth of no greater than 1/4". If the food will release oil during drying, line the drying trays with paper towels first. Change the towels as they become saturated with oil. Do not dry food on galvanized wire mesh because acidic foods will react with the zinc coating on the wire.

      If needed, stir the food and rotate the trays occasionally for even drying. To prevent spoilage, continue drying without interruption. When testing food for dryness, allow it to cool completely first. Dry odorous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, separately.

Sunlight
      To dry food well with the sun, it is important to have several days that are at least 85° F with moderate to low humidity. Spread the food on racks or screens, positioned off the ground to allow air to circulate freely around it. Cover the trays with a single layer of cheesecloth or nylon netting so it is not touching the food. This covering protects the food from insects. Place the trays in direct sunlight. Bring the trays indoors at night. Fruits and vegetables need three to four days for drying, while sauce and puree leathers require only twenty to twenty-four hours. While drying, food may become contaminated by insects. Before storing the dried food, freeze it for at least forty-eight hours. Freezing will kill any insects or their eggs that might be present in the dried food.

Solar
      Small amounts of food can be dried quickly outdoors with a solar food dehydrator. This dryer is faster than sun-drying, but cannot be used on overcast days. A solar food dehydrator can be built easily from a storm window, plywood and mesh.
Solar dehydrator made from a glass storm window, scrap plywood and mesh.

Conventional Oven
      Preheat the oven at its lowest temperature, ~140° F. Spread the food on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Prop the oven door open about four inches to aid in air circulation. To dry large loads, position a household fan outside the oven, aimed at one edge of the opened door. Rotate the baking sheets to promote uniform drying. Most foods will dry in six to eight hours, including sauce and puree leathers.

Dehydrator
      To dehydrate watery foods on a mesh tray, line the trays with plastic wrap. If the food pieces are too small to fit on the trays, cover the trays with cheesecloth to prevent food from falling through. If the dehydrator doesn't have a fan, rotate the trays for uniform drying.


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DISCLAIMER

Page author: Dawn Rorvik (rorvikd@evergreen.edu)
Last modified: 05/20/2003