Enjoying the delicious sweetness of fresh fruit is truly one of the joys of life. Unfortunately, fruit has a short shelf life!
One solution to this problem is dehydrating the fruit before you have to add it to your compost bin. There are lots of resources for drying food online, a great collection of them is available through the National Center for Home Preservation. We especially like the Colorado State University extension guide to drying fruits which can be found in a pdf format here. It has great facts and tips as well as a fruit by fruit guide to selection, pre-treating and knowing when the fruit is finished.
In this How-To The Kitchen at 2nd Harvest used a dedicated home dehydrator to make dried fruit pieces. If you do not have access to a dryer you can use your oven and cookie sheets covered in parchment paper.
What You Will Need: Cutting Board, Knife, and Fruit of Choice
Step 1: Wash the fruit
Step 2: Remove any spoiled areas on the fruit and put in your home compost bin or curbside green waste bin.
Step 3: If using fruit with pits (like peaches, plums or nectarines) cut the fruit away from the pit, as shown below.
Step 4: With the fruit firmly placed on the cutting board, make thin slices. Leave the tip of the knife pointed down and rock it back and forth. Thicker slices will tend to be chewier, thinner slices will dry out more quickly.
Fruits without pits, like apples, can be cut into rounds!
Step 5: Place fruit on drying rack (or parchment-covered cookie sheet)
Leave space between each fruit slices so none are touching
Twist: Add cinnamon!
If you are using a dedicated dehydrator set the temperature to 135 degrees and dry for 4 hours. Check and continue drying as necessary for 2 to 4 more hours.
If you are using a standard oven, set your temperature to low (around 200 degrees) and cook for 6 hours. Check the fruit often after 4 hours it should be a slightly chewy consistency. If it is not done yet, put the cookie sheet back in the oven for up to 2 more hours. Don't forget to set a timer and you should never leave the oven on while you're not there to monitor it.
When you're finished, you should condition the fruit by loosely packing it into a large plastic or glass container. Leave it in a warm, dry, well ventilated place for 4-10 days and give it a shake once or twice a day. This is to ensure that the residual moisture is evenly distributed through all fruit pieces and minimizes the chance of spoilage. If you see beads of moisture appearing inside the container, return the fruit to your dehydrator and condition again when finished.
Pack your dehyrdrated fruit into glass jars (preferably dark) or store your clear jars in a cool, dry, dark place. Properly packed this fruit should keep for up to 12 months.