Looking for a fun and easy holiday gift that you can whip up in just a few hours? Avoid the traffic mayhem and try dehydrating fruit from your local farmer’s market this holiday season. Wrapping up dehydrated fruit is a gift that friends and family will know comes straight from the heart… their health is your top priority! Not only is this an optimal way to store fruit throughout the winter, but it’s also a convenient and healthy way to take snacks on the go; your friends and family will love the thoughtfulness that goes into a handmade gift like this!
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and butter top side. Set aside.
Space oven racks evenly apart. Heat oven to 200°, which is the lowest temperature that most modern ovens will go to. Rinse the fruit thoroughly and remove stems, pits and any bruises. Cut fruit into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. (4 large apples yield about 1 ½ cups of dehydrated apples)
How to Dehydrate Fruit:
If you prefer for your dehydrated fruit to not have the skin, you can blanch the fruits before you put them in the oven. Some people prefer to blanch fruits such as peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums—fleshy fruits—before dehydration, because the skin can become tough when dried. Otherwise, skip the blanching step and proceed directly to preparing the oven.
If Blanching Your Fruit:
Bring water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot. Drop fruit in and blanch until the skin peels off easily (usually between 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of the fruit).
Put the sliced fruit in a large bowl and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon on top, then mix until all fruit is moistened. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon on top. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Place the fruit on lined baking sheets.
Put the baking sheets in the oven. Leave the oven door open slightly, about 3 inches, to allow for air circulation. In a 200° oven you can dry fruit in about 2 ½ to 3 hours. (For slightly chewier texture leave for about 2 ½ hours, and for a little bit crispier go for about 3 hours.
Larger fruit should be flipped at the hour and a half mark; it is good to do this so the fruit dries consistently and thoroughly all the way through. After 2 ½ to 3 hours, take the fruit out of the oven and let it cool down on the baking sheet. Once the fruit is cool you can transfer it to an airtight container. Glass is preferred over plastic to keep it optimally fresh and eco-friendly.
Now for the exciting part—if you are giving this as a gift, it is good to still put it in a glass jar, but spice it up! Wrap the jar in cellophane and/or tie it at the top with festive ribbons. People will love the fact that you made the gift, and the flavor will surely not disappoint!