When I was grocery shopping, I bought a bunch of fresh produce. I’ve kept some for munching on fresh, some for making baby food, and some I’ve used to practice drying produce in the oven.
From what I can tell, the oven needs to be somewhere between 170-200 degrees. It has to be low enough to not roast the fruit, but high enough to kill potential bacteria. Keep the door propped open with a wooden spoon to vent the moisture out and circulate air more. Parchment paper is a must have for lining cookie sheets before putting the fruit down.
I dried banana, strawberry, and mushroom slices and also whole blueberries. The berries obviously take the longest and are pretty close to an all day thing. I suggest picking a day you won’t need the oven for supper if you want to dry a batch. The more evenly sized the berries or slices are, the more even their drying times will be. I have trouble slicing fruit the same width, but I’m getting a little better. The nice part is I can always take out what is done drying and put what’s not back in.
When I thought the fruit was dried, I pulled it out and let it cool 5 minutes. (Don’t leave them out too long or they may draw moisture!) After this, I checked it to see if it is dried or needed to go back in for a bit longer. This depends on the produce. Banana and strawberry slices crisp up similarly. Mushrooms get firm like leather. I think I dried my blueberries a little too much because they turned out harder than I thought they should.
Once they were done, I put them in airtight containers. I am letting them rest a few days as suggested by my book. It says that if water drops appear in the top they need to be taken out and dried more. If none appear, the product can be stored in airtight containers for up to a year.
I found most of my information and suggestions on Pinterest and in two books, Put ’em Up and Ball Blue Book. They are my go-to for all preservation questions. I’m hoping to get good at this before long. It would be nice to put up dried fruit for oatmeal and baked goods through the winter.