THREE SMALL APPLES add a pound to your load, but weigh only two ounces when dried. With the weight savings, you can pack lots of dried fruit for the trail — enough to share with fellow Scouts or Scouters. Plus, home-dried fruit supplies energy, vitamins and fiber that candy bars often leave out. Learn more about how to make several easy dried-fruit snacks below.
Ways to Enjoy Dried Fruit on the Trail:
- Snack on it by itself
- Combine with granola, M&Ms and nuts to make a healthy and delicious trail mix
- Add to oatmeal
- Make fruit cocktail and applesauce
Five fruits that are easy to dry are apples, pears, bananas, peaches and pineapples. Dried strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and oranges make poor snacks by themselves, but can be blended with other fruits into fruit leather.
How to Dry Sliced Fruit
If drying fruit with the skin on, wash the fruit in a water-and-vinegar solution to remove pesticides and waxy coatings. Otherwise, you may wish to peel the fruit. Remove cores and seeds.
Slice fruit about one-eighth-inch thick and spread in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Most fruit will be dry in eight to 12 hours when dried at 135 degrees. Drying times vary with the humidity in the air and the juiciness of the fruit. Pineapple takes up to twice as long to dry.
Dried fruit is pliable, not brittle. It retains between 10 to 20 percent of its original moisture. When the fruit looks dry, tear a piece in half and check for moisture. If it feels moist, put it back in the dehydrator. Once the fruit is dry, let it cool before storing in jars or Ziploc bags.
Tip: Purchase a dehydrator that has a fan or fruit will take too long to dry.
Applesauce Leather Recipe
- 8 medium apples
- 1 cup apple juice
- Pinch of salt
- ⅛ tsp. cinnamon
Peel, core and cut up apples. Combine with apple juice, salt and cinnamon in pot. Bring to boil for five minutes and then reduce heat to simmer for thirty minutes.
Let the mixture cool and then blend the apple mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Spread the blended mixture about one-eighth-inch thick on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheet or the fruit-leather inserts that came with your dehydrator.
Dry at 135 degrees for approximately ten hours. After six hours, peel leather off sheets and flip it over to better dry the underside. Fruit leather dries pliable, not brittle. Dry it so that it is not sticky on the surface and there is no moisture hiding in thicker parts of the leather.
Yield: Eight medium apples yield about two cups of applesauce leather.
How to Make Applesauce on the Trail
Combine ¾ cup applesauce leather with an equal quantity of water. Soak ten to fifteen minutes and stir vigorously. Or enjoy hot applesauce by gently heating for ten minutes.
Combine one cup of any combination of dried fruit with one cup of water. Soak ten minutes and then heat slowly for ten more minutes. Try ½ cup pears, ¼ cup bananas, ⅛ cup pineapple and ⅛ cup peaches. The water takes on sweetness from the fruit and is healthier than the corn syrup in canned fruit cocktails.
Read more about making your own dehydrated backpacking meals:
Backpacking Chef Glenn McAllister is the author of the book, Recipes for Adventure: The Ultimate Guide to Dehydrating Food for the Trail and the companion workbook, The Backpacking Chef Menu Planning & Food Drying Workbook. Visit his website BackpackingChef.com and sign up for a free monthly newsletter, Trail Bytes.