Drying is by far the simplest and most natural method of preserving food,” writes Carol W. Costenbader, in The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, from which these instructions for how to go about drying your own are drawn.
- Use only peaches that are fully ripe but not overly ripe.
- Wash, pit and slice the peaches. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they will dry. But keep all pieces uniform in size so they’ll dry at the same time.
- To preserve the color of the peach, blanch or dip the slices before drying them. There are several ways to do this. As indicated below, some methods work better for some fruits than others.
- 2 tbsp ascorbic acid (FRUIT FRESH) or 5 1-gram crushed vitamin C tabs and 1 quart water
- Mix 1 box of powdered pectin with 1 cup water. Boil together for 1 minute, then add ½ cup sugar and enough cold water to make 2 cups.
- Mix 3 cups water and 1 cup sugar. Heat and then add 1 cup honey. Stir well.
- Combine 1 quart pineapple juice, 1 quart lukewarm water and ¼ cup bottled lemon juice.
a) Place peach slices directly on oven racks or first spread 100 percent cotton sheet or cheesecloth over oven racks.
b) Preheat oven to 145 degrees, propping door open with wooden spoon to allow steam to escape.
c) Allow 4 to 12 hours to dry the fruit.
d) peaches should be dry but pliable when cool. Test a few pieces to see if the batch is ready
- Put peaches in a big dry open pot in a warm, dry, airy location. Stir once or twice a day for 10 days to two weeks.
If you want to store the dried peaches for any great length of time, it is best to pasteurize the slices. After drying is complete, freeze the peaches for several days at zero degrees in a deep freeze (the freezer compartment of a refrigerator won’t do), or heat in a 175 degree oven for 10-15 minutes
Store in airtight ziplock bags or glass containers kept inside paper bag to protect from light. Store in cool dry place. Since a refrigerator is cool and moist, keep the dried fruit there only in the heat of summer, but make sure the package is air tight.