Guest Post by JACKIE EDWARDS
Dehydrating is a cheap, easy, and delicious method of preserving fruit without the use of nasty chemicals. It's healthier, too: dried grapes, grapes, and cranberries have been found to contain twice the amount of antioxidants as fresh versions, reveals the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
If you want your fruit to taste great and last as long as possible, it's important to handle and store it correctly. Follow these tips to prolong the shelf life of your dehydrated fruit.
Choosing fruit of peak quality will not only ensure deliciousness, but also help it last longer when stored. The larger the fruit, the longer it takes to dehydrate, so slice it thinly.
Briefly soak fruits like blueberries and cranberries in boiling water to break the skin before blotting it dry. You can also treat it to minimize oxidation, preserve vitamins, and lengthen shelf life. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of powdered citric acid to two cups of water and place your fruit in the solution for ten minutes. If you don't have citric acid, using a solution of equal parts lemon juice and water will do.
Your fruit needs to be allowed to fully cool and dry before it's canned since warmth and moisture causes sweating and mold growth. Moreover, fruit usually needs even more time to dry out than vegetables because of its high moisture content. Some pieces may also be moister than others due to their size or positioning on the dehydrator. So, once your fruit's cooled, place it in sealed, airtight containers — like glass jars — and leave it to sit for about a week.
This process is called "conditioning". The excess moisture in some pieces will be absorbed by drier pieces. Make sure to shake the container each day to preventing sticking.
When canning your fruit, be careful not to overfill the containers. Every time they're opened, air, moisture, and light exposure will deteriorate the food. Avoid storing your jars on the kitchen counter. Sunlight and high temperatures always cause faster spoilage. Instead, keep your jars in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as your cabinets or pantry.
On average, dried fruit lasts for one year if kept at sixty degrees, but only six months at eighty degrees. Alternatively, storing your jars in the fridge or freezer can help keep them fresh and crisp for far longer. Consider investing in a fridge or freezer with extra storage space that leaves enough room to store your jars all year round. Moreover, if you live in a hot, humid location with poor air conditioning, refrigerating or freezing dehydrated food is a necessity.
it's important to always check the fruit before eating. If you notice
signs of mold or spoilage, bin it immediately. Using these tips will
help your dehydrated fruit stay fresh and safe for far longer.