- When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown melons for the best quality and nutritional value. Determine when fresh melons are available where you live 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.