- When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown melons for the best quality and nutritional value.
- Know when fresh melons are available in your state with this seasonal food guide.
- If this is your first time drying or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read General Drying Information before beginning.
1. Selection & Ingredients
- Select mature, firm melons that are heavy for their size. Do not use melons that show signs of decay or mold.
- Cantaloupe dries better than watermelon.
- Pre-treatment Solution--any of the following can be used to prevent fruits from darkening:
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)- Mix 1 teaspoon powdered or 3,000 mg tablets (six 500 mg tablets), crushed, in 2 cups cold water
- Citric acid-1 teaspoon (5 grams) per 1 quart of cold water
- Bottled lemon juice-1 cup per 1 cup cold water
- Ascorbic Acid Mixture--follow manufacturer's instructions
- Use clean, food-grade dehydration equipment or oven with drying trays or racks that allow for good air circulation.
- Many types of food dehydrators can be used and are explained in detail in Food Dehydrators.
- Conditioning containers
- Large, clean plastic or glass container with lid
- Storage containers
- Clean, dry home canning jars, plastic freezer containers with tight-fitting lids or plastic freezer bags
- Vacuum packaging is also a good storage option
- Large bowl (for soaking fruit in pre-treatment solution)
- Colander, strainer or slotted spoon (for draining fruit)
- Cutting board
- Timer or clock
3. Prepare Ingredients
- Scrub outer surface well with brush under cool running water.
- Remove outer skin, any fibrous tissue and seeds.
- Cut melons into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Soak melons in ascorbic acid or other anti-darkening /antimicrobial solution for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove melons from solution and drain well.
- Arrange pretreated melons in single layers on drying trays.
- Dry at 140 degrees F (60°C) in an oven or dehydrator.
- If necessary, turn large pieces over every 3 to 4 hours during the drying period.
- Fruits can scorch easily toward the end of drying, so monitor more closely as drying nears completion.
- Dried fruits should be leathery and pliable.
- Total Drying Time: 6-10 hours in a dehydrator (may take up to twice as long in a conventional oven)
- Condition melons by placing cooled, dried fruit loosely in large plastic or glass containers, about two-thirds full.
- Lightly cover and store in a dry, well-ventilated place for 4 to 10 days.
- Stir or shake containers daily to separate pieces.
- If beads of moisture form inside the container return melons to drying trays for further drying, then repeat the conditioning step.
- Store small amounts of conditioned dried melons in moisture-vapor-proof containers or bags.
- Label packages with name of product, date and method of pretreatment and drying.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Properly stored, dried fruits keep well for six to 12 months.
- Discard foods that have off odors or show signs of mold.