Preserving fruit by drying has its advantages in that an excess of fruit may be cared for in season when there is neither time nor room for cooking it. Also, its flavor being different from that of canned fruit, it affords an agreeable change from canned or jellied fruits.
Only sound, ripe fruit should be used for drying, and the process may be performed either by the sun or by artificial heat.
Where it can be accomplished without contamination by dust or flies, sun-drying seems to perfect the flavor of the product. On the other hand, fruit quickly dried by artificial heat better retains its color.
Sun-dried fruit should not be left out of doors over night, for dew will retard the process with no advantage to the fruit.
To prepare apples, pears, peaches, etc., for drying, wash and pare the fruit. Spread on wooden trays for sun-drying and on a wire rack if it is to be dried over a fire. When dry the fruit may be placed in muslin bags, and hung in a dry place.
Cherries, berries and other small fruits are prepared for evaporation thus: Use two cupfuls of sugar to each pound of fruit. Sprinkle enough sugar over the fruit to cover it, and let stand over night. Add a little water to the remainder of the sugar and in the morning boil the fruit in it for ten minutes. Take it out and drain. Reduce the syrup until it is quite thick, return the fruit to it and let it simmer at the back of the range for thirty minutes. Lay the fruit on buttered platters, and let it dry in the hot sun.
Apples, pears and peaches may also be dried in this way.
For evaporated melon, divide, pare and remove the cores of preserving citron melons. Cut the flesh into convenient pieces. Add one and one-half cupfuls of sugar to one pound of fruit; let stand over night under a weight to express the juice. In the morning drain off this syrup, and boil it for five minutes. Add the fruit, three grated lemons and two or three pieces of ginger root. Let cook until the fruit is clear and the syrup very thick. Remove to buttered platters, and dry for three days in the hot sun. When dry, pack it in glass jars, and cover tightly.