How to Dehydrate Fruit and Make Tasty Treats

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

I don’t want to look like dehydrated fruit. So why would I want to eat dehydrated fruit? Wouldn’t I start losing all this weight? Is it really healthy to eat dehydrated fruit all the time? Yes, I want to be healthy but I don’t want to be a health nut. So, where do I draw the middle line between too much or not enough? It really depends on you the individual because it’s your health and goals that are important. Anyway, you can dehydrate fruits and make some very tasty treats out of them. You know eating them will be safe because they are nutritious and they will benefit you greatly. It doesn’t seem like dehydrating fruit is all that hard. There are plenty of descriptive websites out on the internet that can explain how to dehydrate food. Let’s look at some now. 

Key to Dry Fruit Is Ripe Fruit

Yes, that seems like common sense doesn’t it? Truly, the key to making quality dehydrated fruit is starting with ripe fruit. The last thing you want to eat or serve your family is rotten dehydrated fruit. Also, we can get fruit all year round but it may tough to store it; if you don’t have access to a freezer or refrigerator. Dehydrated fruit is smaller in space and will be much easier to store. Let’s think about using a dehydrator it’s the essential instrument to actually dry the fruit with.

What to Do with The Leftover Watermelon

Questions! Questions! Questions! What in the world should I do with this leftover watermelon? This water watermelon costs too much to let it rot and throw it away. So, why not make watermelon jerky? Here is a recipe to make watermelon jerky. Start off by throwing the watermelon into the dehydrator and dry it out. There really isn’t a recipe for it because there is only one ingredient involved and that is the watermelon itself. So, slice the watermelon into ¼” stripes and put them into the dehydrator on 135F for the day. Then they can be eaten. There is no additives or sugar. Of course make sure the pieces are firm and dry.


Strawberries Anyone!

Who doesn’t like strawberries and when they are dried they can be added to trail mix with other dried fruits and nuts and they can be used as a topping for cereal. Or they can just be a mouth-watering snack. Another feature of strawberries is they maintain their color even after they are dried. This means there is no pre-acidic preparation. You can tell a quality strawberry by the smell it should have a good aroma. It should also burst with flavor when you bite into it. Here’s the recipe:

Wash the strawberries and then let them drain in a colander for a few minutes. Cut off the green tops. Cut the strawberries cross-ways or top to bottom. Which direction you cut in isn’t important. The critical factor is to get the same sized cut pieces. They must all be equal in size to dry evenly. You would like to have ⅛”-¼” thick slices. Arrange the slices so there is ½” separating the slices. Set the dehydrator to 135F/57C and let the strawberries sit in the dehydrator for 8-10 minutes if you want them pliable. You want firm strawberry slices, leave them in the dehydrator for 8-14 hours. The slices should feel totally dry to the touch.

Once you take the strawberries out of the dehydrator they should look crispy( like cookies after they are taken out of the oven). Let them cool for 20-30 minutes. Even when the strawberries have dehydrated perfectly there still may be some residual moisture. Look at the strawberries and looking to see if they are completely dry along where the break in the surface is. Strawberries should be crispy-dry  not leathery like dried apples and pears. You can’t always feel that strawberries are dry so then you should put them through the “conditioning” stage.  By doing this you will have a better tasting fruit.

Put the fruit slices into jars but only fill them only ⅔ of the way. In this way the moisture is removed from the strawberry slices. If you see any condensation on the sides of the jars then they aren’t dry. Throw them back into the dehydrator for a few more hours.Now you can fill the jars full. You filled them to ⅔ for the conditioning phase so you could shake the strawberries around. Store the strawberries away from light and heat or obviously in a cool place.


Apple Away


Now, we are going to look at baking or dehydrating  cinnamon dust apple chips. Now, select the apples they should be red crisp apples. Apples like gala, honeycrisp, red delicious or granny smith will work fine. All these brands of apples will have a bit of tartness. Slice the ends of the apples then slice the apples into thin slices. Slice them about ⅛” thick. Use a mandolin slicer to make all the slices even and then you can leave the peels on if the apples are organic. You can cut the cores out or leave the stars that were formed in the middle of the apple on them. If you leave the stars in the apples just pop out the seeds.

Next, dust the apples with cinnamon and sugar. Arrange the apple slices in a single layer in the dehydrator and turn the dehydrator to 135F. Allow the apples to dehydrate for 6 to 8 hours or let them dry to your preference. If you choose to use an oven preheat the oven to 200F then align the apple slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the apple slices for one hour then flip them over and bake them for one to two more hours until the chips aren’t dry. Flip the apple chips during the baking session.

Here is a recipe to make the apple chips:

  • You will need three to four crisp, ripe organic apples
  • One tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • One tablespoon of granulated sugar of your choice

Slice off the top, stem side, of the apple. Slice the apples ⅛” to ¼” thick as we mentioned above. A mandolin slicer is the best to use to cut all the slices to an even thickness. Remove the seeds or the whole core and the peels can be left on or removed from the apples. Follow the instructions given above for use in a dehydrator or an oven.


Get those Oranges

You can make orange chips and they can be added to tea or just a yummy snack to munch on. Wash them then remove the seeds and throw them on the pan. Put them in your dehydrator and set it to 115 to135 degrees (Lower temperatures are preferred to maintain the natural juices in the orange chips.) Dry them for 5 to12 hours so they are nice, dry and brittle. When they are dry store them in jars away from the light. You can also use lemon, grapefruit and other citrus fruits. Oranges can be added to trail mix.

Other uses for orange slices:

  • Add some slices in water and tea. They leave the water will taste very nice.
  • Leave a slice in your tea and the longer you leave it in the tea the better the tea will taste and it won’t get bitter
  • Chop it up and make your own tea mixes  
  • Use it to garnish your salad and to flavor your foods
  • Throw some in your blender or coffee grinder and make some powder


Lemons Ahoy

You can dehydrate lemons and use them in anything that is liquid that will blend well with the lemons. Once you dry them you can put them in the liquids which will rehydrate the lemon chips. The liquid will be energized with that lemony taste. Here’s how: Wash the lemons and remember the rinds will be in your drinks so they need to be clean. Slice them into round slices at a ¼” inch thickness for each slice. Remove as many large seeds from the slices as you can. Put them into a dehydrator if you have one. Arrange the slices on the trays. Set the dehydrator to the fruit setting at 135 degrees. They make take 24 hours if you slice them too thick. You will know they are ready because the inside of the lemon slices a dark brown color.

If you don’t have a dehydrator then put them in the oven. Set the oven at 200 degrees but this will take a long time to dry them in the oven. Put them in baking sheet and cook them until they are done. You can use lemon slices in trail mix with other dried fruits and nuts. A good snack for backpacking.


Cherries Too

Drying cherries will require some preparation and definitely a pitter. The pitter will be needed to remove the pits from the cherries. You will need ripe cherries and some coconut oil. The four  hole pitter may work best. Pit the cherries and then melt one tablespoon of coconut oil and coat the cherries with it. There are two ways to prepare the cherries either you eat them whole or cut in them in half. The whole cherries taste the best. Another benefit to using the coconut oil is the cherries won’t stick in the pan. After you coated the cherries put them in the dehydrator at a setting of 135 degrees. Lay the cherries carefully on the tray. Dry them for 18 to 26 hours.  


Dry Bananas 

Dry Bananas 

Select ripe bananas but ones that are overripe. Remove the skin and cut the bananas into circles making sure they are even in thickness. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Arrange the banana pieces in one layer on nonstick baking sheets and make sure the slices aren’t touching each other. Put all the baking sheets on each rack of the oven. Leave 1 1/2” inches all the way around the baking sheets so the air can circulate around them while fruit dries. Keep the oven door open slightly and stir the bananas every 30 minutes. Properly dried bananas should be chewy not squishy or crispy.


Raspberries to the Rescue

Raspberries are wonderful to eat and they are very high in fiber content. One cup has 8.5 grams of dietary fiber which is 20% of the daily recommended total. They are also rich in copper and manganese(Good for joints) vitamins A, C, and K. They are good for the DNA and much more. Anyway, here’s how to dehydrate raspberries: First wash off the debris from the raspberries. Sort through the raspberries and take out any that are deep dark red, spongy or smashed. Air dry to remove moisture because leaving moisture in the fruit isn’t always good.

Now, that you have picked the, best of the best, sort the raspberries into the trays either in rows or just toss them in there but leave some kind of an orderly pattern. Be sure there is plenty of room for airflow around the raspberries. Put the trays in your dehydrator and set the dehydrator to 135. Leave the raspberries in it to dry from 12-18 hours it depends on the type of dehydrator you have for the time setting. Or if 135 isn’t the setting for your dehydrator set it to the fruit setting. You can dry these in your oven at a setting of 140 degrees for six to nine hours. But  you must keep a close eye on the raspberries if you use the oven.       

The dried raspberries will lose some of their red color but don’t worry about this they are fine. You can store the raspberries with an oxygen absorber or put them in canning jars with a vacuum sealer for long-term storage. You can eat them right out of the jar or put them with water to add to various recipes. They are wonderful in oatmeal with cream.

There are a lot of health benefits to snacking on dried fruit they are low in sugar intake and they are rich in natural products. They are economical to make and they can be used in a variety of ways.


Cranberries Awake

You know that cranberries can be eaten more than just once a year at Thanksgiving. There is more to using them then just in cranberry juice as well. The best type of cranberries to use are natural raw cranberries right off the bush. They are naturally sweetened with out all the sugar that is added to commercial brands. They are healthier to eat as well. Start off by boiling one quart of water per 1 12 ounce bag of raw cranberries.

Make sure the water has come to a boil then dump the cranberries into the boiling water. Set the timer to to or three minutes and once you hear a popping noise you are on track. The raspberries‘ skin will start popping. If the skins on the raspberries don’t pop they will not dehydrate properly. Don’t let them boil for more than three minutes if you do they will turn to mush. You can still use them but they won’t taste as good. If they absorb too much water it just isn’t good for them. Don’t remove them from the water too soon then they will be too crunchy. So you have to leave them in for about two to three minutes for them to turn out right. Depending on how split they are or if they are too mushy you can slightly press crush them with a spatula. This will help in the dehydrating phase.

Set your dehydrator to 135 (Which is usually the fruit setting.) Check them after 12 hours it may take up to 16 hours. It depends on how soaked the cranberries were with water. For long-term storage use either vacuumed sealed canning jars or vacuum sealed bags.

You can use cranberries in salads to tart them up and they may fit in well in trail mix. They can also be used in pies to give them a very   high powered tart flavor. Cranberries have condensed tannins which suppress bad cholesterol preventing atherosclerosis ( A disease of the arteries where fatty plaque builds up in the artery walls. This will constrict blood flow through the arteries.) The tannins are also good for the heart.


The Final Thought

We have looked at several fruits that you can dehydrate and enjoy in various foods. The processes are much long in the dehydrator but the wait is worth the effort. You can also dry out fruits using your oven but you need to keep a close on the fruit when using your oven. Dried fruits will store for a very long time which is another nice benefit. They are healthy to eat and have wonderful features for the human body. The most popular ways to use dried fruit are to use them in trail mixes with nuts and other dried fruits and just simply eating them straight out of the jar. Dehydrating food is a win-win proposition for your family because they are cost-effective to prepare; they are also low in sugar and contain all natural flavors. Go dehydrate some fruit today! 

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.