Drying fruit is an old method used for centuries. Dried fruit also makes a terrific snack with excellent nutrients. But to use fruit for decorations it must go through a specific process. To produce dried fruit, the water is removed from it with circulating air all around it. You can use simple methods to dry fruit.
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Things you need
- Pick your choice of fruit to use
- Food Dehydrator
- Airtight storage containers such as glass jars and
- plastic freezer bags.
- Waxed Paper
- Absorbic acid such as lemon juice, or fruit juice
Choose which type of fruit you would like to begin the drying process with. Oranges, lemons, limes, apricots, bananas, avocados, plums, cherries, strawberries, pineapple, pears, peaches, and blueberries are perfect to use for dried fruits. All fruits should be washed, pitted and sliced, before placing into single layers on a large tray.
You can pretreat each piece of fruit in an absorbic acid such as fruit juice, lemon juice or honey and water for around 10 minutes, so the fruit will not blacken as it begins to dry. Some fruit can be soaked with sulphur dioxide to prevent darkening. This process also preserves the nutrient content within the fruit and will extend the shelf life of the fruit.
If you prefer sun drying your fruit, you will need three to four days of hot, humid weather for drying. Prepare your fruit by setting the fruit out on waxed paper, making sure each slice does not touch the other. Oven drying is an easier method, but does not retain the nutrients within the fruit.
To oven dry, maintain an oven temperature below 93.3 degrees C, then leave the oven door open to allow air to circulate during the drying process. For electric dehydration of fruit, you can use a food dehydrator, which is energy efficient and maintains the nutrients in the fruit. The electric dehydrator should be set between 48.9 and 60 degrees Celsius.
Be sure to turn the fruit often during dehydration for adequate air circulation. You will know the fruit is done when it has a rubbery feel to it and there are no pockets of moisture. If you see any kind of wetness, it is not dry yet. To store your fruit, place in airtight jars or plastic containers and place the containers in a cool, dry place.
Fruit is naturally beautiful and with the different colours and shapes always provide an attractive setting for a dining room table. You can use fruit to garnish and decorate your table settings on the table and in the kitchen. Add lemon or lime wedges to a plate of meat of seafood or add dried cherries to go with a dish of ice cream.
Place a dried pieces of cherries with your flower arrangements to make a edible place setting or put some dried fruit in the centre of a edible flower and place leaves of fresh mint. To make sugared fruit decorations, brush egg whites on the fruit and sprinkle a light coat of sugar over the fruit, turning until all the fruit is covered with sugar. Sugar fruit garnishes make a elegant look for a wedding table or dinner party.
Tips and warnings
- Dried plums have the highest antioxidants which work to prevent cancer, and heart disease, among other nutritive values.
- Try to keep a cloth up under the drying fruit, to hold the draining moisture, if sun drying outside.
- Make sure containers are airtight without getting dust, germs or insects.
- Dried fruits can also be frozen, but only for a short period of time, because you may loss nutrient value.
- Shelf life for dried fruit is up to a year without refrigeration, because of the high concentration of sugar in fruit, which keeps bacteria away.
- Never put new fruit on top of old dried fruit.
- Don't put jars/storage containers near foods with pungent odours such as onions or garlic foods.
- While drying, don't place temperatures either too high or low because high temperatures will overcook the fruit and dry out the flavour, and low temperatures can cause bacteria to form on the fruit.
- Never leave dried fruits out for long periods of time.
- Sugared fruits must be eaten or thrown away after use.
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