Making dried fruit at home

Filed in Blog by on October 13, 2009 8 Comments
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From this to this - 1 pear makes 25 gms of dried fruit

From this to this - 1 pear makes 11 gms of dried fruit

I had  a couple more successes during my zero food waste week.

Not only did I make my own tomato ketchup, but I made dried fruit as well. This is a great way to reduce food waste, make the most of a glut, eat frugally and save packaging.

You might have noticed from our weigh ins that we eat a lot of dried fruit and it all comes in non recyclable plastic packaging.

I bought a dehydrator a few years ago and have made apples and courgettes in the past.

Last week I made apples which I bagged for free from my local orchard in exchange for giving him half the apples back once dried! I also did pears (Mr Green’s favourite) and bananas (Little Miss Green’s favourite).

The last lot of dried bananas I bought cost £1.79 for 150 gms.To get the same weight I would need to dry 6 bananas at home, which would cost around 90p

The apples were obviously a complete bargain as I got them for nothing. But this time of year you could do them for a good price even if you needed to buy the fruit. 3lbs of apples, which is what I used costs £1.20 at our orchard and for that I ended up with 100gms of dried fruit.

The cost of electricity was 30p in case you are wondering – just 2kws for 8 hours drying time. You can also dry fruit for free by threading it on strings and leaving to air dry. This can work really well over a background source of heating such as woodburner or radiator.

You can dry fruit in the oven too. For this you need to put the oven on the lowest setting and prop the door open otherwise the moisture can’t escape and the fruit won’t dry. Unless you can set up some kind of racking system, this isn’t a particularly frugal option, but I’m wondering if you could do something similar in an airing cupboard – has anyone tried this?

After making my own dried fruit, I do understand why it costs so much to buy! Once you’ve driven out the water, you’re not left with much to show for it. But for 1/2 hour preparation work and a couple of kws of electricity and most importantly, no waste at the end of it, I shall definitely be doing this again.

Have you ever dried fruit or vegetables? Which drying method did you use?

One banana yields 26 gms of dried fruit

One banana yields 26 gms of dried fruit

You get 100gms of dried apple rings from 1.4 kg of fresh fruit

You get 100gms of dried apple rings from 1.4 kg of fresh fruit

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. That fruit looks delicious. I had wondered about the dehydrators last year, but they seemed quite expensive. However, I can see now that if you eat a lot, they have some significant benefits. Thanks for the tips about the alternative methods, it’ll encourage me to give it a go. :-D

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Drying fruit/veg has value since the universal plastic packed choice produces so much waste plastic. My local weigh-house provides some dried fruit as well as the essential desiccated coconut. Ian, the trader, has asked again about MyZeroWaste but might need my help to get him started on the ‘net.

    His fruiterer business is an excellent way to locate bulk bins for food, and other, items, as an extra source of sales. This could be an example for others to follow so highlighting his setup could be a great way to promote bulk purchases.

    I have dried some Sweet Basil leaves with similar oven heating and may be forced to do the rest of 2 remaining plants if the plants succumb to cold or poor daylight during the winter.

  3. Sarah says:

    I’ve dried herbs by hanging them in the airing cupboard but hadn’t thought of fruit as I figured it’d take too long and would go mouldy? I wonder if a friend of mine would let us borrow her dehydrator to see if we would eat what we dried?

    We have 2 apple trees and as they get larger we’re going to reach a point where they produce too many apples for us to eat all at the same time. It’d be a freezer full of puree or maybe dried apple rings might be an option!

    Mrs Green, you are a genius!

  4. sandy says:

    John
    Thanks for the tip re tea in paper boxes, but the onpy supermarket we have is the Co-Op, everything else is too far away.
    I will keep looking ta

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Hey Mrs A. Well I’ll let you into a secret. Mine came from Tchibo and was £25 ;)

    Why not ask for one on Freecycle; I’m sure some people buy them as a ‘must have’ gadget and then never use them

    @John Costigane: Hi John, glad to hear things are still going well with Ian and it sounds like you have basil drying down to a fine art now! We currently have rosemary on top of the woodburner; it purifies the air when we light the fire in the evenings!

    @Sarah: Happy to help Ms B. I’m not sure about air drying fruit; it would all depend on humidity. I get put off because we have horses in the fields behind us, so we get flies in the house no matter how clean we keep it :(
    Borrowing a dehydrator would be great – better still give her the apples and let her keep half for doing it all for you!

    @sandy: I think Jackson of Picadillies was mentioned and they sell through the Co-Op, it might be worth a look? …

  6. Sooz says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this, so it’s great to see your expereiences – I can’t belive how little fruit you get after it’s been dried! I’m still keeping an eye out on ebay for a cheap dehydrator for fruit drying next year though!

  7. Hazel says:

    I got my early Christmas present of a dehydrator last week and am having lots of fun playing with it! So far I’ve done various fruit leathers, figs (reduced in supermarket), mini plum tomatoes (also reduced and so yummy I had to keep testing them as they dried…), herbs from the garden, mushrooms, Chinese lanterns from the garden as decorations, and am currently drying orange slices and whole limes for Xmas garlands/pot pourri and apple and pear slices.
    I’m really impressed so far. I’ve done a bit of oven drying before, but it’s a fine line between drying and cooking (I’ve had a few trays of slightly browned orange slices!) and it is more expensive because the oven is on for so long. A good way to see if you’ll use the end product before buying another gadget though.
    My next project is drying the constituents of broth powder- basically Marigold stock powder, but homemade :o)
    Hazel

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Sooz; it’s amazing to see how little you get; it helps me to realise why dried fruit appears to be so expensive! Good luck with your search for a dehydrator ;)

    @Hazel: Hi Hazel, what a lovely early Christmas present! I would love details on how to make fruit leathers as I buy these for Little Miss Green – not only are they expensive, but I have to dispose of the packaging afterwards. It would be wonderful to make my own!
    I’m going to be drying our orange slices in it this year too as I’ve ended up with browned ones in the oven!

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