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How to Make Dried Fruit without a Food Dehydrator

Guess what I did! That’s right, I made my own prunes!

Last weekend we went to Costco, and I apparently I forgot I was leaving on a 3 week long trip in a week, and bought a 5lb box of prune plums. Or maybe I thought I could eat 5lbs of prune plums in a week. Turns out that I cannot. Also turns out that I  am the only one in the house who will eat them.

Needless to say, Thursday rolled around and I was left with about 4lbs of prune plums. Always hating to be a waster, I figured I’d better do something with them. I thought making my own dried fruit would be pretty easy, and I was right.

How to Dry Prunes

Our moms made dried fruit all the time – I know mine did. Well, that and some beef jerky that was a major fail. Seriously – even the dog wouldn’t eat it!

But back then, food dehydrators were all the rage. I don’t have one, and though they’re still available, I am definitely not ready to make an investment in another kitchen appliance that takes up so much space! Turns out your oven is all you need. BUT – it does take a long time, which means your oven will be occupied for hours on end, so make sure you don’t need to use it for anything else.

How to Dry Prunes

How to prepare plums for drying:

Prunes can either be dried pitted, or with the pits in place. I decided to pit mine, since I find unpitted prunes annoying and inconvenient. A  quick Google search didn’t lead me to any magical super fast method of pitting plums, so I used the old trial and error method.

My first try turned out pretty successful. All I did was cut a slit lengthwise down the prune, being careful not to cut it totally in half. Then I stuck my fingers in and pulled out the pit. It was actually really easy since these (maybe all?) plums are freestone, meaning the flesh doesn’t cling to the pit.

I thought it would took forever to pit those 4lbs of plums, but it actually only took about 15 minutes. I ended up drying them whole.

If you’re trying other fruits, you might try preparing them in the following ways:

Plums: pits removed (see above), whole 

Cherries: pits removed, whole

Blueberries or cranberries: whole

Apples or pears: core removed, thin slices or rings

Bananas: thinly sliced

Strawberries: stem and core removed, sliced or quartered

Tropical fruit (mango, papaya or pineapple): thinly sliced

How to Dry Prunes

The materials needed to dry fruit:

The next decision I made was whether to dry them straight on the baking sheet or a rack. I went with a rack. I decided it might be faster since the air could circulate better. Seeing all the juice that dripped of, and consequently burned onto the rack, I’m glad I made the decision I made. Otherwise they probably would have stuck on the sheet pretty good.

If you’re using smaller fruit (like cherries or blueberries), you may not have that option, since they will fall through a rack. Try lining the sheet with a silicone liner or parchment to prevent sticking.

How to dry fruit in your oven:

Drying fruits and vegetables should be done at low temperature – about 200°F.  I also decided to use the oven in convection mode, in hopes the job would be made faster. Since I didn’t try regular baking mode too, I’m not sure if it was faster or not. But I do know that drying my plums, to the point of still being slightly soft and “juicy” took about 8 hours.

My guess is that smaller fruits (like cherries or blueberries) would done slightly faster. Same for drier fruits (apples). Since all ovens are different, and the rate of drying will depend on the size and juiciness of the fruit, as well as the humidity in the air, keep a close eye on your fruit. I checked mine closely every hour to see how they were doing (and took pictures, see above). This means you need to be home and available the whole time they’re in the oven. Take them out when the fruit is as dry as you want it.

How to Dry Prunes

One thing to remember with homemade dried fruit is that it is preservative free, which means it will not last as long as store bought dried fruits. In fact, if you leave them at room temperature for extended periods of time, they will likely mold. If you know you won’t eat it quickly, store it in the freezer.

How to Dry Prunes
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Dried Fruit in the Oven

How to make your own preservative-free, no sugar added dried fruit in your oven, without any special equipment.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 20 mins


  • Fruit pits or cores removed (if applicable) and sliced (if applicable)


  • Heat oven to 200°F, using the convection mode if available.
  • Lay fruit onto a baking rack set over top of a rimmed baking sheet. If fruit is too small for a baking rack (like cherries, blueberries or cranberries), bake directly on a baking sheet that is lined with a silicone baking liner or parchment to prevent sticking.
  • Baking time depends on the fruit you are using. Check on the fruit every hour or so. Remove fruit from oven when the desired dryness is reached. Allow fruit to cool, then store in airtight bags or containers. If you plan to store the fruit for a long period of time, keep in the freezer to prevent mold.
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  • Reply
    September 11, 2015 at 8:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing this, and with the helpful pictures! My uncle dropped of a grocery bag full of these delicious plums, and they are far too many to eat before they get too soft. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 19, 2016 at 2:15 AM

    Could you process these in port to ensure that they do not go mouldy perhaps

    • Reply
      February 19, 2016 at 8:45 PM

      I really don’t know…would help inhibit mold I guess, but I have no idea how it would turn out.

  • Reply
    Paul Osborne
    July 30, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    I am certainly going to try this, with five plum trees i was wondering how to preserve them.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2016 at 1:04 AM

    Have you tried them after they have been frozen? Do they taste the same? I am looking to do this but will have to freeze them all until I see my mom as they are for her.

    • Reply
      August 15, 2016 at 7:24 AM

      Yes, they taste the same after being frozen. That is what I did with my dried plums, as I don’t eat them very quickly. Just take a few out when you’re ready to use them and let them thaw at room temperature.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    When you used the convection setting did you crack your oven door open to release some of the moisture?

    • Reply
      August 15, 2016 at 1:54 PM

      I didn’t, because I was worried about possible burns with my small children. But I know keeping the door open a crack is common. Worked for me without however, so I’d say either way is fine.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 11:49 PM

    I bought a dehydrator, also froze plums whole, cooked over-ripe plums, made fruit leather and for our next adventure, will put plums in gin and sugar for a year. My friend’s father does this every year. Heat 26 oz gin gently, dissolve 2 cups of sugar ( I will try one batch with berry sugar and the other with coconut sugar), put whole plums in jar, make sure plums are covered and store jar for year. Pour off liquid, drink and use plums on ice cream etc. Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    October 11, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    LOVE , luv this method,and you for sharing, THANK YOU,,lol,Lori

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