Kiwis are little furry brown fruits filled with healthy antioxidants. Like any fruit, they will go bad after a few days on the counter or a week in the refrigerator. To preserve your kiwifruits for much longer, dehydrate them to turn them into a chewy, tasty treat. While you can dehydrate your kiwis in a special food dehydrator, you can also do so just as easily in your oven using a cookie sheet and cooling rack.
Kiwifruits should be ripe before drying them. Ripe kiwis give a little when you press on them. If they're not ready, place them in a bag with a banana for three to five days to ripen. Wear gloves when handling your kiwis because they contain papain, an enzyme that can irritate your skin. Peel the fruit prior to slicing them because the hair on the skin can irritate your throat if ingested. Cut away any discolored spots. Slice each fruit horizontally into thin pieces about 1/4-inch in size. An egg slicer works well to make uniform slices of kiwis. Thin slices will dehydrate faster than thick ones.
To keep your kiwi slices nice and green when dried, soak them for 5 minutes in 2 cups of orange juice or a mixture of a teaspoon of ascorbic acid with 2 cups of water. For sweeter dried fruit, treat the kiwis with sugar syrup instead. The sugar syrup helps preserve the kiwifruit's color and breaks down the papain in it. Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil in a pot. Add in 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid per quart of syrup and your kiwi slices. Simmer for 10 minutes before removing the pot from the heat. Allow the kiwi slices to soak in the warm solution for 30 minutes, recommends the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.
Place your kiwi slices in single layers in a food dehydrator and set it to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the standard temperature for most machines. Dry the slices until they are leathery but not hard or brittle to the touch. Alternately, you can place them in a single layer on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet in the oven. Set the oven to 140 F and leave the door to the oven slightly ajar to allow air to circulate through the slices. The total drying time should be between 6 and 8 hours using either a dehydrator or the oven.
While you can sun-dry your kiwis in temperatures above 86 F, this can take between 2 and 6 days and exposes the fruit to outdoor pests and contaminants. You'll need to bake sun-dried fruits in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 160 F for 30 minutes to pasteurize them. After dehydrating your fruits in the oven or pasteurizing them, allow them to cool for one hour before placing them in glass jars. Shake the jars daily for a week, checking for condensation. If you notice any moisture, re-pasteurize the kiwi slices again in the oven or put it back in the dehydrator for more drying, advises the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Store dried kiwi slices in air-tight bags or jars in a cool, dark pantry for 6 months to 1 year.
- California Kiwifruit Commission: Drying Kiwifruit
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Preserving Kiwifruit
- How to Dry Foods; Deanna Delong
- Utah State University Cooperative Extension: Kiwi -- Key to Nutrition!
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service: Preserving Food: Drying Fruits and Vegetables
- Fruits of Warm Climates; Julia F. Morton
- eMedicineHealth: Papain
- The Kitchn: Yes, You Can Dry Fruit in the Oven! How To Dry Fruit Without a Dehydrator