OVEN DRIED APRICOTS
I am still considering buying an electric food drier, because of the volume it is able to produce in a relatively short time. Still I wanted to make some natural looking dried apricots in the oven. Dried apricots that look good, taste good, and are preservative free. The luxury of having your own apricot tree is that it provides you with fruit for experimentation.
Of course you can’t expect perfect looking apricots from home drying. Next time you go shopping, take a look at a bag of organic dried apricots, they are probably dark brown. In contrast those bright orange coloured ones are heavily sulphured and are full of sugar and only God knows what. They may look good and even taste good, but those are not good for you and can make you sick.
Home dried apricots may not look or taste as sweet as sulphured dried apricots, but when you eat them you can be sure you are eating real fruit. Dried apricots are widely used in baking, breakfast cereals, trail mixes and in smoothies. Apricots are easy to process, they don’t require peeling and the stone removes easily. Drying apricots is worthwhile; lots of recipes call for them.
Treating the fruit with harmful chemicals makes home drying a futile exercise. I pre-treated my first batch with Fruit Fresh, which is simply ascorbic acid. Unfortunately this brought out the fruit’s moisture content and the apricots were swimming in their juices. Meanwhile as I was baking with fresh apricots I noticed how vibrant they remained during baking and even afterwards. I thought why not bake the apricots before drying? I realize not every stove has a temperature gage at 100F, so this method may not work for you. However, it worked well with my stove. I turned off the temperature for the night and then turned it back on in the morning. At 100F it took me ten hours to dry one kilogram of pre-baked medium sized apricots.
Blanched and treated with Fruit Fresh
Blanched, peeled and treated with Fruit Fresh
Please read the following before proceeding to the recipe:
• Select fresh, ripe, blemish free and firm apricots. Immature fruits lack flavour and color. Overly mature fruits are mushy. Remember drying does not improve fruit quality.
• Next thoroughly wash the fruit to remove the dirt and the pesticides. After that cut the fruit in half. Discard parts with blemishes, and don’t use parts of a fruit that is decaying or mouldy. Mould penetrates all the surfaces, even the healthy looking parts. It is not worth your while to save parts of an imperfect fruit only to spoil an entire batch during storage. It is best to dry fruit in uniform size. That way they will dry at the same rate.
1 kg fresh apricots
aluminum foil lined, rimmed baking pan
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Wash and drain the apricots.
• Remove and discard stones.
• Fully line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
• Place a wire rack inside the tray.
• Arrange the apricots cut side down on the wire rack.
• Place the tray in the oven and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
• Remove the tray from oven and turn off the heat. Leave the oven door slightly ajar, so it can cool down faster.
• Place the tray of baked apricots back in the oven and turn the heat to 100F.
• Dry the apricots for 6 hours.
• Remove the tray and turn the apricots over, so the cut sides are up.
• If they began to curl straighten them out.
• Return the tray to the oven for 4 hours.
• After that time keep a close eye on them.
• If at any time you have to leave the house or night comes, turn the oven off completely and leave the apricots in the oven.
• When you come back turn the oven back to 100F and continue drying until there is no moisture glistening inside the apricots. They should still be soft. Keep in mind that the drying time will be hugely effected by the size of the apricots. Mine were fairly small this year.
• When drying is complete, arrange the fruit on parchment lined trays for a few days to air dry further.
• Pack the dried apricots into dry, sterilized glass jars. Store in a cool, dry, dark place or in freezer bags in the freezer.
• Label and date.
• Properly stored, dried fruits will keep for 6 to 12 months.
• Discard foods that have an off odour or show signs of mould.
Prepared for baking
Pre-treatment: baked for 30 minutes at 350F
Half Dried at 100F.
After 10 hours at 100F in the oven
After that Zsuzsa went out and bought herself a food dehydrator.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 14:24
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- I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has close to 800 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. They are organized into a cookbook format in "zsuzsa's cookbook". My new venture is "rethink the food". My food blog is evolving and so am I. You are never too old to learn or to make changes to what you eat or enjoy.