Many of the fruits that we grow here in the UK are great options when it comes to preserving them through dehydration. Dried fruits make great snacks and have the benefit of having no added sugar too. Dehydrated fruits are nutritious, lightweight and easy to store. Dehydrating fruits takes less energy than is needed to freeze or preserve in jams and you also need less storage space for dried fruits too. Dehydrating fruits also means that you’ll get to enjoy the taste and flavour of the fruit long after the harvesting season has finished. Some fruits, however, lend themselves to dehydrating more than others. So here’s our guide to the best fruits to dehydrate. We’ll focus on the best fruits to dehydrate that are grown in the UK but will also include a section on the best imported fruits to dehydrate too.
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Some fruits are more suitable for dehydrating than others. And regular dehydration isn’t the only way that fruit can be preserved for the longer term, although it is the quickest and easiest (aside from freezing of course!). Fruits can also be dried as fruit leather and fruit rolls, but this takes quite a bit more work. Fruits can also be preserved as jams – but this also adds significant work and usually a lot of additional processing and sugar to the fruit.
Fruits grown in the UK that are particularly suitable for dehydrating are apples, apricots, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Imported fruits that are suitable for dehydrating include bananas, pineapple and mangoes.
All these fruits can be dried in a standard oven, but it’s much more energy and cost-efficient to use a food dehydrator (read more about them here). I’ve also included the best fruit dehydrators to use further in this article.
The Best Fruits to Dehydrate
The primary reason for dehydrating fruit is to extend the time you can eat it. Harvesting a certain fruit tends to happen over quite a short period of time, yet we prefer not to eat all the produce from a certain tree or bush at the same time. Dehydrating fruit harvest means that you can enjoy it for months after the harvest time.
The best fruits to dehydrate are those that you don’t have the scope to eat fresh!
The Best Home-grown Fruits to Dehydrate
In this section, I’m including details of the best home-grown – in the UK environment – fruits to dehydrate. While I realise that some of you may grow some of what I’ve classed as imported fruit here at home, I’ve tried to generalise.
Peaches are a great UK grown fruit to dehydrate. It’s much easier to prepare a firm peach to dehydrate and it will dry faster than a soft one. However, don’t be tempted to go for too firm a peach as it won’t have the sweetness and ripeness. You should select peaches for drying that have a good colour and a little give them you squeeze them. Peaches are best prepared for dehydration by cutting into halves or quarters. The pits should be removed and then slice the peaches again.
My favourite breakfast cereals have dried strawberries and raspberries in them. (and I LOVE growing strawberries) I love my dried red berries. They dehydrate well, but you’ll need to wash them and pat them dry. Either quarter or slice strawberries. I like my strawberries tart, so I don’t add sugar, but you may find that adding a little sugar after you’ve placed them on a dehydrating sheet helps if you have a sweet tooth. Adding sugar will mean that they take longer to dehydrate.
Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit and they dehydrate very well. You can either dry apples to crisps or a chewy dried fruit. Apples start to oxidise as soon as you cut into the skin and so they discolour, so you’ll need to work quickly when dehydrating apples. Pre-treating apples before dehydrating will help them to retain their natural colour. There’s more on pre-treating fruit before dehydrating later in this article.
Although we eat tomatoes primarily with other vegetables, they are, of course, a fruit. And they’re a great fruit to dehydrate. Dried tomatoes aka sun-dried tomatoes are incredibly Moorish and an amazing way to preserve one of my favourite fruits. So much so that I wrote an entire article on dehydrating tomatoes that you can read here. There’s also a guide to the best vegetables to dehydrate here.
The selection of fruit is absolutely key when dehydrating raspberries. Overripe raspberries don’t dehydrate well and are likely to fall apart if you try drying them when they’re mushy and overripe. You’ll want to select firm to the touch raspberries that are bright red. Darker coloured raspberries tend to indicate that they’re overripe. After washing blot them dry to remove excess water. To speed up the process of dehydrating raspberries you can slice them in half. Spray raspberries lightly with lemon juice to stop them from turning brown – it doesn’t affect the taste. Raspberries will take about 10-12 hours to dehydrate in a food dehydrator and you’ll know that they’re done if you can’t feel any softness or moisture. They’ll be crunchy if you bite into them.
Blueberries are a great fruit to dehydrate and drying them really concentrates the flavour. They’re pretty small, to begin with, so they may fall through the gaps in the trays on your food dehydrator. (so just be aware of that!). Sometimes you’ll find that if you don’t split the skin somehow a dried blueberry will be tougher, so you can split the skin by either blanching or splitting the skin with a knife. Blueberries will also dry quicker if you put a slit into the skin before placing them in the dehydrator. Blueberries will take a minimum of 8 hours to dry in a dehydrator.
I adore fresh figs. I love figs marinated in honey. I love figs marinated in balsamic (check my recipe here) and dried figs are a fabulous addition to all sorts of recipes once the fig harvest has finished. If you’re planning on dehydrating a whole fig then they dry better if they’ve been blanched. Sliced or halved or quartered figs are my choice for the size of fig to dry. They’re also easier to eat this way! Figs definitely benefit from pre-treating before drying (see below). Make sure the figs that you select for drying are fully ripe and are not damaged. If they’re damaged make sure you cut off all the damage. Wash the figs, pre-treat if you plan to and then rinse and drain. Figs will take a minimum of 6 hours to dry. They’ll be chewy and leathery when ready.
The Best Imported Fruits to Dehydrate
Some of the imported fruits that we get in the UK are fabulous for drying. I’m just going to touch on two of them, which I love adding to my breakfast cereals and as snacks for the trail.
The key to drying bananas is the selection of the banana. Bananas need to be ripe, but not overripe. So aim for a few of the brownish speckles on the skin. Peel the banana and cut it into rounds. Bananas will take a minimum of 8 hours to dry and are, I think, so much better than shop-bought dried banana chips as they’re not as crunchy, but a little chewy. You may find that bananas stick to dehydrator trays – and so they’re better placed on the type of flexible poly inserts that you get as standard with the Excalibur Dehydrators.
Dried mango is fabulous. And while it’s likely to be expensive to buy fresh mango (and may actually be cheaper to buy already dried mango), with your own dehydrated fruit you get to know exactly what has and hasn’t been added to them! Mango is easy to dry. Cut off the skin of the mango by slicing it into three sections until the knife hits the pit. Then you’ll want to take the skin off the mango. Cut the mango into pieces about 2cm square and follow the instructions on your dehydrator. Mangoes should dehydrate in 8-12 hours.
As with all other fruits that you want to preserve by dehydrating, select pineapples that have as little surface damage as possible. Pineapples do NOT continue to ripen once they’ve been picked, so you’re better off drying as soon as you can. Rinse the pineapple, scrub the skin and chop into chunks of about 3cm to 5cm. Flexible trays in a dehydrator will stop the pineapple from sticking as much. Pineapples will take a minimum of 12 hours to dry. You’ll want to turn them over after 8 hours. When it’s dried it will be chewy and firm.
What are the Best Fruit Dehydrators?
I wrote a comparison of the UK’s best fruit dehydrators, which you can read here – but here’s an overview of which dehydrators are great for drying fruit.
|Food Hydrator Name||Highlights||What It Looks Like||Read Reviews & Buy Now!|
|Excalibur Food Dehydrator||• 9-Tray dehydrator, 15 square feet of drying space|
• Built-in on/off switch and adjustable thermostat with 26-hour timer
• Easy to clean Polyscreen tray inserts
• 7-inch fan, 600 watts, voltage: 110-120V
• Unit Dimensions: 12-1/2 H x 17 W x 19 D (inches)
|Check prices and buy now|
|BioChef Arizona||• Digital Display: 19.5 Hour Timer|
• Adjustable Thermostat: 35º to 70ºC
• 9x Stainless Steel Drying Trays + 100% BPA Free inner- and outer casing
• 3x Non-Stick Sheet, 3x Fine Mesh Sheet & 3x Drip Tray
• Superior horizontal airflow for even & consistent drying of foods & no flavour contamination between the trays
• 3 years warranty on motor & parts - UK service & support centre
|Klarstein Fruit Jerky 6||• Temperature and timer setting gives even dehydration as the fan circulates warm air|
• Adjustable display on the upper surface.
• Adjustable temperature from 35-70°C.
• Adjustable timer from 0:30 - 19:30 hrs
|Check Prices here|
|MisterChef Circular Food Dehydrator||Temperature- setting. easy to clean plastic trays and lid|
On/off switch on the unit base.
Settable temperature from 35-70°C.
|Buy the best Circular food dehydrator here|
|Cooks Professional Budget Food Dehydrator||• 5 tier design means you can preserve varieties of food simultaneously|
• Instruction manual included with drying time guidelines
• The 240W dehydrator has a timer that can be set between 1 and 72 hours with an adjustable temperature of between 35°C and 70°C
• Measures W33.5cm x D26cm x H27.5cm when all 5 trays are stacked together.
• If only one tray is used, the height is 14.5cm
|Buy the best budget food dehydrator|
Pre-treating Fruit before Dehydrating
Commercially dried fruits are treated before drying. This takes place to retain primarily the colour and flavour. No one’s going to buy it if it doesn’t look and taste good right? This pre-treatment also helps the dried fruits to last longer. You can also pre-treat your fruit before drying it. It will help to retain the flavour and stop fruits from discolouring as they dry. There are three ways to do this.
Pre-treat fruit before drying with ascorbic acid.
You can buy ascorbic acid from pharmacies and health food stores. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of ascorbic acid in a litre of water. Pop the prepared fruit into it and leave it for one hour. Then drain, rinse lightly and add to your dehydrator.
Pre-treat fruit before drying with citric acid
Use a tablespoon of crystallised citric acid in a litre of water. Pop the prepared fruit into it and leave it for one hour. Then drain, rinse lightly and add to your dehydrator.
Pre-treat fruit before drying with lemon juice
You can also use fresh lemon juice in this same way, but you’ll need about 250ml of lemon juice to a litre of water. If you’re using lemon juice then leave the fruit in for no more than 10 minutes. Citric acid and lemon juice may leave your dried fruits with a slightly tart taste, so experiment and see what works for you.
How to Store Dehydrated Fruits
You’ll need to wait until your dried fruits are completely cool. They will last longest if you store them in an airtight container. So a plastic ziplock bag with the air squeezed out of it tends to work the best. Place your container of dried fruits in a cool, dry place.
Dried fruits will last for about a year if stored under the right conditions.
Final Words on the Best Fruits to Dehydrate
Drying fruits is a fabulous way to be able to savour the taste and flavour long past harvest season. And luckily, many of the fruits that we grow here in the UK are great options for dehydrating. You’ll get fabulous lightweight, easy to store and nutritious fruits year-round. Let us know how you get on dehydrating fruits and what for you are the best fruits to dehydrate are!