Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dried Apricots and Blueberries

One of nature's best fruits.  The Apricot is hardy, mostly disease resistant and great tasting.  There are few fruits that require as little work as an apricot.

We harvested from our Goldcot Apricot and other varieties.  The fruit is relatively small, but it does not have to be peeled and they are easy to de-pit.  We wash them, cut them in half and throw out any bad parts.

The halves are then soaked in orange juice to help the apricots keep their color as they dry.

Any citrus juice will do.  Use whatever is convenient.

We spread them out on the drying racks.  This is a simple air movement drying system with a small fan that blows air up through the racks stacked on top of each other.  I still want to build a solar dehydrator, but have not gotten around to it yet.  Some day I will find the time.

The finished product is beautiful and incredibly tasty.  We also did blueberries at the same time.  Blueberries do not require any added citrus juice to prevent discoloration.   After they dry for a while (overnight) I will gently shake them to keep them from sticking to the trays.  I will also exchange the top tray with the bottom to keep some from drying faster than others.  After 2-3 days they should be dry enough to last for 6+ months in a zip-lock.

As expensive as dried fruit is, you can save a fortune by doing it yourself.  They are a great snack and the taste gets better and stronger when the moisture is removed.  You want to dry the fruit until it is leathery and just a little but crispy where it is thin.  The blueberries are much dryer as they are a lot smaller.  They do not take nearly as long either.  You will have to experiment with how long your system takes and when you want to remove them based on your taste and texture preferences.  The dryer it is, the longer it will last without molding.  The moister it is, the juicier the texture.  Good luck and have fun.