One of my favorite ways to preserve fruits and vegetables is to thinly slice them and dry them in my dehydrator. Drying is one of the oldest methods for preserving foods. This makes for a nutritious and convenient snack that needs little space for storage. There are two ways in which I dry fruits… I often purée fresh fruit in the blender, spread the purée on a dehydrating sheet and dry the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I then wrap long strands of the dried leather in cellophane and store it in a mason jar. Other times, I simply slice ripe fruit, process it in the dehydrator overnight, condition the fruit and package for a nutritious and high-energy snack. Drying your own fruit at home is far less expensive than purchasing packaged dried fruits and can insure that there are no extra preservatives added to the fruit.
Some fruits suitable for drying include apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, and berries. To process, carefully follow the directions that accompany your dehydrator or use a recipe from a reputable source. These recipes have been tested to reduce any food safety issues and boost nutritional impact. If you are interested in making your own jams or jellies, pickles, salsa, fruit leather or dried fruit, here are a few sites that will provide you with an abundance of carefully tested recipes.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation – http://nchfp.uga.edu
Drying Fruits and Vegetables Penn State Extension – http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods/drying-vegetables
Ohio State Extension Food Preservation – http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation