Sometimes, taking a stroll through the bulk section of the grocery store results in an audible gasp or two. Sure, the thought of stocking up on dried apricots and mango is all fun and games at first, but that $14/pound price tag is no joke. The good news, though? You can whip up everything you need for your fall hike trail mixes on the cheap at home. And all it takes is one tiny secret for sweet success.
While you can always use a dehydrator to get the job done, you don’t need to spend money on another space-hogging appliance. Instead, you can make perfectly chewy dried fruit in your oven using a simple technique. According to My Recipes, start by pre-heating your oven to 200°F. Then, pop in your sliced-up fruit, which should be spaced out on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper.
Ready for the secret to making sure the fruit ends up with just the right texture? It’s leaving the door slightly open. Otherwise, you won’t end up with the store-bought quality you’re going for. Now when you do this, make sure you’re already planning on hanging at home for a while: The fruit needs to be stirred every 30 minutes until it’s dry and chewy—something that can take around three hours if it isn’t super watery, or up to six hours if it is.
After it’s at your texture of choice, experts recommend turning off the oven and letting your newly-dried fruit hang out in there with the door all the way open for 20 minutes. Then, shut the door and keep the fruit in the oven for three more hours, or even overnight.
Sure, it’s going to take a little—ok, a lot—of patience, but once you have a homemade supply of dried fruit on the cheap, all that TLC will be more than worth it.
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