Drying fruit offers a practical way to take advantage of extra produce or fruit that's on sale; it also offers a way to add new flavors to old recipes. Sure, we are used to cooking with dried dates, figs, raisins and plums in savory recipes, compotes and baked goods. But using more unusual options can flavor a favorite old dish with a new attitude—try drying tropical fruit for a change, such as star fruit, mango and papaya.
"Because dried fruit has very little moisture, it contains more nutrients than an equal amount of fresh fruit," Routhier writes. "On the downside, it is higher in calories because the fruit sugars become concentrated as moisture is removed." For example, 1/2 cup of grapes has 50 calories, while 1/2 cup of raisins contains 200 calories.
- Any firm, juicy fruit, such as tropical fruit, dates, figs, apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, currants, pineapples, grapes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries or cranberries
Step 1: Choose firm, juicy fruit. Wash it beforehand if you leave the peel on.
Step 2: Preheat oven to the lowest setting, usually 120 F to 140 F.
Step 3: Peel, core, halve or slice the fruit into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
Step 4: Arrange fruit cut-side up in single layers on baking sheets. Dry in an oven set to the lowest setting, usually 120 to 140 degrees, for about 6 hours, turning occasionally.
Step 5: Set fruit out to dry in open air for 2 days. Refrigerate dried fruit between parchment paper layers in covered containers for up to 6 months.