How to Dry Apples & Oranges for Tea Blends

by Suzanna Didier

    For a fruity finish to your hot tea, try drying apples and oranges for customized tea blends. To get the best results, choose firm apples with no bruises or cuts and fully ripe oranges with good color. By doing it yourself, you can avoid the sulfites typically added to dried fruit, while still enjoying the concentrated flavor you get from dehydrated apples and oranges.

    Items you will need

    • Vegetable brush
    • Paring knife
    • Vegetable peeler (optional)
    • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C tables or ascorbic acid crystals)
    • Water
    • Slotted spoon
    • Paper towels
    • Dehydrator
    • Glass container

    Fruit Preparation

    Step 1

    Clean apples and oranges by running them under water and either rubbing them clean with your hands or scrubbing them vigorously with a vegetable brush. Avoid using soap; it can leave an unwelcome detergent residue.

    Step 2

    Core the apples with a paring knife, and cut them into small chips of uniform size for even drying. Peel only the outer layer of skin from a thick-skinned orange -- such as a navel -- using a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cut strips no more than 1/16- to 1/8-inch thick, avoiding the inner white part of the orange, which can add bitterness to tea. After they dry, you can break them into smaller pieces, if desired.

    Step 3

    Soak the apple chips and orange peels in an anti-browning and antimicrobial solution for 10 minutes. Make a simple solution by mixing 2 tsp. of crushed, unflavored vitamin C tablets or ascorbic acid crystals in 1 quart of cool water. Both can typically be found in a pharmacy. One quart of solution is enough to treat three quarts of apples or orange peels.

    Step 4

    Remove the apples from the solution with a slotted spoon and blot them dry with a paper towel.

    Drying

    Step 1

    Arrange the fruit on separate trays so no pieces touch or overlap. Place the trays in a dehydrator, allowing 1 to 2 inches of space between each tray. Set the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow the apples chips to dry for 6 to 8 hours. The orange peels can take from 8 to 12 hours. Drying time varies depending on type of apple, the size of the fruit pieces, the humidity level and the dehydrator.

    Step 2

    Test for dryness by removing one or two pieces of each fruit. After they have cooled, give the apple chips a squeeze. If no moisture is visible and the texture is not sticky, they are done. Oranges should be crispy, and when you bend them they should snap.

    Step 3

    Remove the fruit from the dehydrator and allow it to cool completely before storing. This typically takes 30 minutes.

    Step 4

    Pack the dried chips loosely in a clean glass container, seal it and let it rest in a cool, dark place for 7 to 10 days. Shake the jar daily, and monitor it for condensation. This important step evenly distributes the moisture and lowers the risk of mold development. If water droplets develop the inside jar, put the apples back in the dehydrator until they are completely dry.

    Tips

    • Make single-use sized servings to avoid opening and closing storage containers, which can introduce moisture and bacteria into the container.
    • Store fruit in insect-proof containers with tight-fitting lids such as glass canning jars or plastic freezer containers. Avoid metal.
    • Dried fruit can be stored for six months to one year; the lower the storage temperature, the longer it lasts. Food stored at 60 degree Fahrenheit should be good for one year, fruit stored at 80 degrees F is only good for six months.

    About the Author

    Suzanna Didier's work appears in online publications including the National Geographic website, SFGate and Local.com. She is an avid cook who lives on a hobby farm, direct-markets organic produce to local restaurants and has taught at the preschool, elementary and college levels. Didier holds a Master of Arts in education from the University of Oregon.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images