This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
In very dry climates fruits may be evaporated entirely in the sun, although this causes considerable discoloration. For home use, fruit may be dried in the hot sun until the surface begins to wrinkle and may then be finished in the dryer, according to the general methods described in evaporating vegetables.
Select only fresh ripe fruit, wash it, prepare as necessary and spread it upon the drying trays which have been lined with wrapping paper or cheesecloth to prevent any possibility of chemical action between the fruit acids and the metal. The ability to judge accurately when fruit has reached the proper condition for removal from the dryer can be gained only by experience. It should be so dry that it is impossible to press water out of the freshly cut ends of the pieces and so that none of the natural grain of the fruit will show when it is broken. It should be leathery and pliable, but not so dry that it will snap or crackle. Cool the fruit quickly as otherwise it will shrivel and look unattractive.
Wash the berries, free them from leaves and stems, handling them carefully to prevent bruising. Drain them on towels, or expose to the summer air for a few minutes to remove the surface moisture, then spread in thin layers on the trays and dry according to the general method described in drying vegetables, raising the temperature gradually from 110° F. to 125o F. during the first two hours. When a considerable portion of moisture has evaporated the temperature may be brought higher than 130o F., but if this is done before, there will be loss of juice by dripping and consequent loss of flavor and color. Finish drying the berries at 140o F. for two or three hours longer.
Wash but do not stone the cherries. Remove the surface moisture as directed in dried berries, spread in thin layers on the trays and finish according to the general method for drying vegetables starting at 110° F. and increasing to 150o F. It will take about four hours.
Select good-sized medium-ripe plums. Pour over boiling water, cover and let stand twenty minutes. Drain, remove the surface moisture as in berries and finish according to the general method for drying vegetables, starting at 110° F., and increasing gradually to 150° F.
Pare, core and cut the fruit in eighths, or core and slice in rings. Dip as fast as a small amount is prepared for a minute in a cold salt bath to prevent discoloration, using an ounce of salt to a gallon of water. Remove the surface moisture as in berries and finish according to the general method for drying vegetables, starting at 110° F., and increasing to 150o F. The pears may be steamed ten minutes before drying.
Peaches are usually dried unpeeled, although they may be blanched and the skins removed if desired. In either case, cut them in halves, remove the pits, lay in the trays, pit-side up and finish according to the method given for dried vegetables, and at the same temperature as apples.