Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle

Oven-dried pears (and apples)


Last fall, my CSA started sending me pears, and they didn’t stop until March. There are only so many pear salads and snacks you can make before you start craving something else. So back when I was getting 3 pears and 3 apples a week, I started drying them so they wouldn’t go to waste. They make a great travel snack, and are cheaper than buying packaged dried fruits.

Slicing pears

Slicing pears, about 1/4″ thick. To get the most pear with the core, I slice 3-4 rounds from opposite sides, then a few rectangular pieces from the remaining 2 sides.

Those pears were also rock hard, would ripen slowly, and then went from perfect to overripe in a blink. I learned why – pears ripen from the inside out, so by the time you notice they are ready on the outside, they are brown mush on the inside. In order to ripen in a way that is appealing to us, they need to be chilled. So refrigerate them for a couple of days, then place them in a window or in a paper bag (the latter I’ve had minimal success with, but I’m still interested in the science of why that works, so I’ll be trying again.) Luckily, it doesn’t matter if they are ripe to dry them.

Soaking pears

Pears and apples soaking in cold water and lemon juice.

I don’t have a food dehydrator, so I use the oven. This method is a bit of a crap-shoot, because the oven’s lowest temperature is hotter than a dehydrator. But I Googled and got a consensus on what times and temps to use.

Here’s the recipe*

6 pears (or apples, or a combination of the two), washed
4-6 cups cold water
¼ cup lemon juice

*As usual, this is a very fudgable recipe

Fill a large bowl with cold water, about half-full. Add lemon juice.

I don’t peel the fruit, but you can if you prefer. Slice fruit about ¼” thick (you can go thinner if you have a dehydrator, but I find for the oven anything thinner dries too much and gets pointy.) Place in the water mixture and let sit for about 30 minutes. You do this so the citric acid gets into the fruit to prevent browning.

Heat oven to lowest temperature. Mine, like most, stops at 170. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pat fruit dry with a towel to remove excess moisture.

Pat fruit dry with a towel to remove excess moisture.

Drain fruit, and pat dry. I place them on a towel and dab with another towel. Yay for tea-towels, less paper-towel waste! Place fruit in single layer, not touching, on the cookie sheets.

Pears in oven

Pears (top) and apples (bottom) in the oven.

Bake for 8 hours, more or less, depending on how crispy or chewy you like your fruit. I prefer mine chewy, so I start testing at 6 hours. I rotate the pans every couple of hours, and flip the fruit after 4 hours. They harden more after removal from the oven, so take them out a little softer than you are aiming for. It may take trial and error – but honestly even the errors are fantastic. Also, apples dry faster than pears, so if you are doing a combo batch, test both fruits.

Dried pears

Pears cooling on a rack. You can see the apples in the background, they are a lighter color.

Your house will smell amazing. AMAZING. I tend to have to run errands midday, so I turn off the oven when I do (safety first!) and when I get back it’s like walking into the fabled grandmother’s kitchen. Or so I hear – my grandmother was not really a baker. I digress…

Once they are out of the oven, place them on drying racks to cool. It won’t take long. Then I put them in tupperwares or baggies. If you don’t plan on using them within the week, they freeze great. I keep a baggie in my purse to stay away from the pastry case at Starbucks. My only caution – they are addicting! You could eat all 6 pears in one sitting if you aren’t careful.

Dried apples

Dried apples. I will say, this was my first attempt at apples, and they clearly should be baked for less time than the pears. They were quite crunchy and the skins were sharp. Still delicious, though!


6 thoughts on “Oven-dried pears (and apples)

  1. Pingback: Candied Oranges | Soil and Cellar

  2. Pingback: New Moon – Harvest / Apple Moon Begins | Urban Meliad

  3. Great meeting you are the IFBC and I love your blog and so excited to follow you and learn some new recipes!

  4. I have a pear tree. That’s NOT a blessing, the darned thing drops pears and I have to go pick them up. At the height of the season I pick up 40 lbs a day. Now, what to do with all these pears? For years I packed them carefully into boxes and put them away in a cool dark room to ripen, but as the years go by we lose our enthusiasm for details, don’t we? I now bring the pears in the house and lay them out on cardboard all over the place. After they’ve sat for a couple of weeks I notice that they’re ripening and I get to work. I’m pretty fussy about my finished product so I peel them and then slice them. And THEN, and this is where you and I differ, I put them on window screens (preferably not metal ones) which I place on wires I’ve hung from the ceiling over my kitchen woodstove. This year is an abundant year, so I’m trying putting some of the screens in a bedroom upstairs. The whole house is very dry, I guess from the wood heat. I don’t use the water and citric acid, I just put the juicy slices on the screens. So far so good, in all the years I’ve been doing this. And then the dried pears go to friends and family at Christmas and MOST people are happy.
    I love drying as a method of storage. It’s so environmentally friendly. I have to say I haven’t had great success with all fruits and vegetables. I couldn’t get blueberries to dry into raisins as I thought they should. I had a lot of luck with zucchinis, but how many dried zucchinis does a person need? I’ve also had success with swiss chard, of all things. Once I dried beets, they lasted years before I used them all up. These dried vegetables can go into winter soups and stews, around late winter when you’re getting hungry for something besides cabbages and carrots. The dried fruits, of course, are excellent for everything from eating out of hand to putting in oatmeal, puddings, or, why not? pies.
    I’m sorry this reply is so long. In the early morning I compute, trying to avoid beginning my day, I suppose. Sooner or later I need to put the computer away and get back to the pear project. I expect it’s time to do that now.
    PS I just realized you live in Seattle. Having lived in Oregon for some time I understand that there’s no way you can dry ANYTHING without a little help. I live in Vermont now.

  5. I have a gas stove with a pilot light that does not turn off, so… I might as well use it. I dry my sheets of pears & apples using just the pilot light. it takes several days, but, as my mother used to say, “What’s time to hogs?”

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