After you’ve prepared your fruit, fire up your burners. Store bought dried fruit uses sulfur to retain color (hello, orange apricots!) but at home, simply blanch your fruit to help it keep its bright hue and shape. There are two ways to do this.
You can steam the fruit for 30 seconds and then place it in cold water for 30 seconds or soak the fruit in lemon juice and water (about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for each quart of water) for 10 minutes, then blot and dry it. Just remember that depending on the density of the fruit you use the lemon juice may give the fruit a citrus flavor.
Now, your fruit is ready to dry. Again you have several options. If you’re going to make a lot of dried fruit, invest in an electric dehydrator, you can pick one up for about $50 at your favorite kitchen store. The other options are to use an oven or the sun.
Drying Fruit in the Oven
This is the easiest way to dry fruit. Simply place the blanched fruit on parchment lined cookie sheets. Set the oven to about 145 degrees and rotate the fruit every two hours until it's done.
Drying Fruit in the Sun
This method isn't easy or quick! You'll need to live in a place with temperatures that are consistently above 80 degrees, where there is little to no humidity, and where you can guarantee that the fruit won't be contaminated by insects or wildlife. If you want to give it a go, place blanched fruit on parchment lined cookie sheets and place it in the sun, then flip once a day.
When is it Done?
So when is your fruit ready? Touch it! It should feel dry but not brittle. Most dried fruit, if stored in an airtight container, can last from three to six months.
Next, how to candy fruit...