Saving Your Summer Fruits

August 14, 2017
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Mango leather
Mango leather

For the basics, we turned to Preservation of Tropical Fruits by Drying, a 1983 article by Becky and Carl Campbell, parents of tropical fruit expert and edible South Florida columnist Dr. Richard Campbell. His mother’s “dried fruit and vegetables were a sensation for decades, and for years it was her dried mangos that fed the masses at the International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. She was drying fruit and vegetables before it was fashionable to do so, and, as was her way, it was all done for her family and friends,” recalled Dr. Campbell in his column in winter 2011. All fruits should be washed and dried, peeled and seeded before dehydrating. If you slice them thinly (¼-inch or less), they may become crunchy or crispy. Thicker slices become chewy or leathery. Lay slices on racks without overlapping. Drying time varies widely, so check frequently. Store all fruits airtight, in zip-top bags, ideally in the refrigerator or freezer – otherwise, slightly moist fruits may turn moldy, while crisp fruits may start to turn soft in South Florida humidity.

Fruit Preparation

Time to dry

How to use Comments
Banana Choose ripe but not overripe fruits. Peel and slice about ¼-inch thick for chewy fruits; thinner for crisper snacks. Toss with lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.

24-26 hours


Eat out of hand as a snack. Mix with granola or trail mix. Chop and stir into muffin or pancake batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and cinnamon before drying.

Since backyard bananas tend to ripen quickly within a short period of time, drying is a good way to store them.
Carambola Slice about ¼-inch thick and remove seeds.  12-18 hours Use sliced fruits for garnish. Or puree with other fruits for fruit leather. Carambola can be very sweet or very tart. Add honey or sweetener for those tart varieties.
Citrus (Lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit) Slice fruits horizontally to make citrus wheels. Remove seeds. For peel only, peel using a Y-shaped peeler, avoiding the bitter white pith. To remove bitterness

6-12 hours


Fruit slices can be added to tea, used as garnish, powdered and combined with salt and other spices. Peel alone can be powdered and used in baking, in spice blends, for fish and meats and as a flavorful garnish.  Dried citrus slices are especially beautiful – and surprisingly delicious. They become brittle to the touch in about 10 hours.
Coconut Remove coconut meat in chunks from outer shell. Peel off inner husk. Cut in ¼-inch slices for jerky, or grate. 10-12 hours Use grated coconut to add to granola, trail mix, baked goods. For jerky, marinate in seasonings before drying. To remove coconut meat from the outer shell more easily, bake the coconut in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.
Dragonfruit Peel and cut in ¼-inch slices. 6-8 hours Adds color and crunch to dried fruit mixture. Use the magenta variety – it dries to a deep, beet red.
Jackfruit Remove bulbs from ripe jackfruit. 8-10 hours Eat as a snack. Add to dried fruit mixtures. Save the starchy seeds. Boil, then roast.
Longan Leave fruits whole. 24 hours Eat as a snack. Fruits may darken after drying.
Mamey sapote Peel and remove pits. Cut in slices. 8-10 hours Eat as a snack. Adds color and sweetness to granola. Mamey sapote retains its vivid color – red to red-orange – after drying.
Mango Peel and cut around pit. Slice ¼-inch to ½-inch thick. 8-10 hours Eat as a snack. Delicious addition to granola. One of the best dried fruits. 
Papaya Peel, remove seeds and slice 3/8-inch to ½-inch thick.

8-10 hours

Eat as a snack. Stir into your favorite breakfast cereal or plain yogurt. Slicing papaya in lime or lemon juice adds welcome tartness to their overall sweetness.
Pineapple Cut off top (plant it to grow a new pineapple) and bottom. Cut off sides. Core and cut in 3/8-inch slices. 8-10 hours Eat as a snack. Mix into granola. Dried pineapple is very sweet, chewy and tastes  intensely of pineapple.
Sapodilla Peel and remove pits. Cut in 3/8-inch slices.

6-8 hours

Eat as a snack. Mix with other tropical fruits. These taste best when they are chewy, not overly dried.


Article from Edible South Florida at
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