How to Dry Apricots for Year-Round Enjoyment?
Apricots, with their bright orange hue and succulent taste, are among the most beloved fruits during the summer. As the season fades, many wish to keep a piece of summer alive by preserving these juicy fruits. One of the most traditional methods to achieve this is by drying apricots. In this guide, we will explore how to dry apricots and everything from pre-treated apricots to the perfect oven temperature to help you make delicious homemade dried apricots.
1 Why Dry Apricots?
Drying apricots or turning them into dried fruit is an age-old method to preserve the fresh fruit for later consumption. These dehydrated apricots can be a chewy snack perfect for school lunch boxes or a nutritious addition to your desk drawer. Moreover, dried apricots retain most of their nutrients, making them just as healthy as their fresh counterparts.
2 Preparation Steps
- Choosing Apricots: Always go for fully ripe fruit. They should be bright orange and not too soft or too hard. Smaller apricots tend to be sweeter and more flavorful than larger ones.
- Wash Apricots: Before you dry apricots, ensure that they are clean. Rinse the fresh apricots under running water and then pat dry with a clean cloth.
- Cut and Remove Pits: Slice the apricots in half or thin slices, depending on your preference. Apricot slices tend to dry faster than apricot halves. Regardless of the size, make sure to remove the pits.
- Pre-Treatment: To prevent your homemade dried apricots from turning brown, you can dip them in lemon juice. Prepare a large bowl with water and add a splash of lemon juice. Immerse the apricot halves or slices in this solution for 5 minutes. You can also opt for a mixture of kosher salt and brown sugar, though the lemon juice method is more common. Pat dry the pre-treated apricots before moving on to the drying process.
3 Methods to Dry Apricots
Using a Food Dehydrator
- Place the apricot slices or halves on the dehydrator trays, ensuring they don’t overlap.
- Set the temperature to the manufacturer’s recommendation for fruits, usually around 135°F.
- It may take between 8 to 12 hours to dehydrate apricots completely. The drying time will vary depending on the size of the fruit pieces and the efficiency of your dehydrator.
- Periodically, check the dehydrator tray to ensure even drying. Remove apricots once they appear leathery and pliable but not too hard.
Oven Drying Method
- Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, typically around 140°F to 170°F.
- Arrange the apricot slices or halves, flesh facing up, on a drying tray or wire rack.
- Keep the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.
- Oven drying can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours. Check periodically, and adjust the oven temperature if necessary. Remove when the fruit feels leathery.
4 Microwave Oven Method
- Although not the most common method, it’s possible to dry apricots in a microwave oven.
- Place apricot slices in a single layer on a microwave-safe tray. Use low heat and check every 2-3 minutes. Typically, in about 15 minutes, the apricots should be done. However, this method might not produce the same chewy texture as the other methods.
- Once dried, allow the apricots to cool completely before storing.
5 Post-Drying Process
- Cool Completely: Once you remove apricots from the oven or dehydrator, let them cool completely. They should feel slightly sticky but not moist.
- Testing: A well-dried apricot will feel leathery. Larger pieces will obviously be chewier.
6 Storing your Homemade Dehydrated Apricot
- Airtight Jars: For short-term storage, airtight jars in a dark place work wonders. Ensure that the apricots are entirely devoid of moisture.
- For Longer Storage: Consider using vacuum-sealed bags. If you notice any condensation or moisture, consume them quickly or consider re-drying.
Homemade dehydrated apricots should be kept in airtight jars or containers. Keep these containers in a cool, dark place to ensure that the dried fruit retains its flavor and freshness. You can also use them to make delicious additions like apricot jam.
Rehydrate dried apricots by soaking them in water when needed. They can be delicious added to recipes or eaten as is.
7 Wrapping Up
Drying apricots at home can bring back the feel of summer any time of the year. With the perfect oven temperature, ripe fruit, and a little patience, you can produce dehydrated apricots that rival any store-bought dried fruits. The process not only ensures that you know what’s in your food (bidding goodbye to preservatives like sulfur dioxide) but also provides a tasty, chewy snack perfect for any occasion.
In conclusion, whether you choose to use a food dehydrator, an oven, or even a microwave, the joy of enjoying your own apricots, transformed into a delightful dried snack, is unparalleled. Happy drying!