Dehydrating a Tropical Getaway
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Pineapple, check! Kiwi, Check! Mango, Check! The gangs all here. I recently bought a dehydrator and couldn't be more excited with the results! I was able to experiment a bit with the slice thickness, lemon baths, and 'cook' times to get those chewy sweet centers just right!
The thing about dehydrating foods is that you don't actually need a fancy mechanism— but it does make things a whole lot easier! You can simply use your oven on a low setting (approximately 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 hours for most .25"cut fruit).
I have found that giving my fruit a quick cold lemon water bath before drying lends the fruit to keep its vibrant color and prevents it from browning. Lemon, as you may have guessed from my previous articles, keeps the vitamin content high and I feel preserves the nutrients too! If you are new to this dehydrating world like I was, take a minute to stroll through my best practices and see if this is something you may benefit from!
Below are some simple steps on my process and which fruits worked for me:
Step 1: Find fresh & firm seasonal fruit at your local supermarket or farmers market.
You your senses when choosing fruit like apples, peaches, pears or melons—I like to make sure they are hard and firm when buying. Pro Tip: Melons and pineapples will have a sweet scent at the bottom by the core that will let you know if its sweet!
Step 2: Test first, then buy in bulk. Make sure whichever fruit you decide to dehydrate is ripe and ideally not too sour or mealy — this will lend to a poor outcome. If its not tasty and perfuming sweetness at the store then your dehydrated treats will reflect this as well. Mindfully cut into a your fruit first to see if it's ideal for drying. If it taste good then consider going to the store for more!
Step 3: Have a good knife ready and evenly slice.
I like a quarter inch slice overall. I've found that this lends for a chewy yet somewhat thick piece for fruit that is hearty enough to snack out or chop into my homemade granola recipe. The more consistent your slices are, the better your fruit will evenly dry so try to keep it precise and tight! You'll thank me later ; )
Step 4: Prepare a cold water lemon juice bath.
I take a square baking dish and fill half way with water, then squeeze 1 whole lemon for the entire batch. As you slice, drop the pieces into the lemon water. Coat and stir with your hands to make sure all slices get a nice simple (invisible) glaze.
Step 5: Shake off excess water and assemble.
Once you're finished slicing. Give the fruit about 5 minute to 'marinate' in your lemon water. I like to take this time to clean up my workstation and stack my trays to they are ready to assemble. Now take piece by piece and layer onto your trays! Just be sure to leave a small space between pieces so none of your fruit is overlapping. Sometimes I like to make fun patterns by swapping the direction from row to row.
See one of my stacking examples here:
If I have different types of fruit that are ripe, I like to choose fruit to lends the same dehydrating time to make together. Photo'd above is pineapple, kiwi fruit, and mango slices.
These all had a dehydrating time of 14 hours @135 degrees. My kiwi wound up being about .33" thick so I followed that rhythm for the pineapple and mango. Sometimes you have to just go with the flow!
Below you'll see I tried apples and some plums too! These came out best by dehydrating for 6 hours with .25" slices @135 degrees. The result was chewy and slighting moist. These only lasted 1 week. SO GOOD.
Apples are great to slices because you get so much BANG for your buck, I can usually fit about 5 sliced apples in my 6 shelve dehydrator which stores about 2 large mason larges full of treats that will last for months in my house. Now, if you have a toddler, this may only be a few weeks supply—but hey, this beats buying all that expensive dried fruit and with way less adde sugar and preservatives. Pro Tip: Buy organic whenever possible!
The dehydrator I personally use is the Cosori premium stainless steel dehydrating machine. It fits well with the esthetic of my kitchen appliances and can dry more than enough fruit in one session. I truly love this machine because its easy to use and I'm able to store seasonal fruit in my pantry for months without anything spoiling. Give it a try, and feel free to message below if you have any questions!