Dried fruit is fruit that has been preserved by having all of its moisture removed. Fruit that has been dried typically keeps for a long time. Organisms that thrive on moisture are usually responsible for making fruit spoil. When there is no moisture present in the fruit, these organisms normally cannot survive. If dried fruit is stored properly, it is safe to consume for months.
An oven, a dehydrator, or the sun may be used to dry fruit. When the sun is used, conditions usually have to be ideal for the dehydration process to work. Preferable conditions for solar dehydration are typically low humidity with temperatures above 95°F (35°C) for three to five days in a row. Oven dehydration is often considered the easiest method, but could result in darker fruit with a brittle texture. Using a dehydrator for making dried fruit is probably the best way to guarantee a superior product each time.
Fruits that are chosen for drying are usually ripe but not overly ripe. Any blemishes or bruising present on the outside of the fruit are typically cut off beforehand. Molded fruit is generally not acceptable for preserving. After the fruit is selected, it is usually cut up into small slices. Most people opt for smaller pieces over larger ones because big chunks of fruit may take longer to completely dry out.
Pre-treating fruit is common before preservation because it helps the fruit retain its color. One method of pre-treatment is done by dipping the fruit into a mixture of citrus juices and lukewarm water. Certain vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas, may be blanched in boiling water to preserve their color. Pectin, honey, and ascorbic acid are also sometimes used to pre-treat both fruits and vegetables. Pasteurization after drying may be recommended for fruits that will be stored for a long time to prevent insect eggs from forming on the food.
The length of time dried fruit will keep generally depends on the type. Dried raisins may last for up to one year, and most other varieties could last for at least one month or longer. It is typically recommended to store dried fruit in airtight containers away from direct light. Refrigeration is usually not harmful, but may shorten the shelf life due to moisture in the air. Freezing dried fruit can change the flavor and texture of the food but keeps any existing moisture frozen, thereby lengthening the storage time.