Apricots are a nutritious food containing only 74 calories per serving. They are also a good source of Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber. Originating in China thousands of years ago, California now produces nearly 90 percent of the global crop. While fresh apricots are only in season for a few months, drying apricots preserves them for year-round use. To dry them, you can use a food dryer, the sun, or the oven.
Selecting and preparing apricots for drying
Select only ripe apricots with no bruises or blemishes. If you want to prevent the apricots from turning brown, you will need to soak them briefly in a solution of ascorbic acid with the ratio of three grams of ascorbic acid per gallon of water. You can buy ascorbic acid powder at specialty health food stores, or as a commercial mixture in the canning section of supermarkets. Vitamin C tablets made of 100% ascorbic acid can be ground or dissolved in water as well. Six 500mg tablets are enough for one gallon of water. Just a quick dip in the solution is all the apricots need.
Drying apricots in a food dryer
Wash the apricots in water with a small amount of dish soap, or non-toxic vegetable and fruit cleaner. Rinse and dry. Cut the apricots in half. Remove pits and discard. Place the half apricots on a food dryer tray. Allow space between each one and do not let them touch each other. This way, the warm air can circulate and the apricots will dry more quickly. The apricot halves will take between 18 and 24 hours to dry completely. Test for doneness when there is no moisture left in the apricot. Remove from the trays and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Drying apricots in the sun
To dry apricots in the sun, the temperature must be above 98 degrees and the humidity must be low. Place apricots on mesh trays to allow for the best air circulation. Cover the trains with screening to keep away insects. It takes between two and four days to dry apricots in the sun. If the nights are humid or cool, the trays can be brought inside overnight.
Drying apricots in an oven
Set the oven to 150 degrees or lower if your oven allows. Place the apricots on a metal cookie tray. Place the apricot halves on the trays and place trays in the oven. Close the oven door, but allow a two- or three-inch opening. If the oven door will not remain in this position, some type of non-flammable block may be used. A small fan can also be set up to help with the air movement and speed up the drying time. Apricots dried in an oven take 24 to 36 hours to dry.
Always store dried apricots in an airtight container, otherwise the moisture from the air will cause them to mold or rot.