Conditioning or Curing of Dried Fruits and Vegetables
Pieces of food taken from the drying trays are not always uniformly dry. To condition, place cooled dried fruit loosely in large plastic or glass containers, about two-thirds full. Cover with a cloth and store in a warm, dry well-ventilated place. Stir and feel the food every day for a week. If there is evidence of moisture, return the food to the dryer. The food can be left in this way for one to two weeks. This assures an even distribution of moisture and reduces the chance of spoilage in the product.
If you dried the produce to a calculated final solids content, you can package without the conditioning step. Variations in moisture content will equalize between the pieces in the package.
Foods exposed to insects before or during the drying process should be pasteurized to destroy insect eggs. Preheat an oven to 175° F. Spread the food loosely, not more than 1 inch deep, on trays. Do not put more than two trays in the oven at once. Heat brittle, dried vegetables for 10 minutes; heat fruits 15 minutes. Oven pasteurizing results in additional loss of vitamins, and may scorch food. Freezer method: Seal dried food in heavy freezer containers (bags or boxes). Freeze for 48 hours to kill insects and insect eggs. Remove and let reach room temperature before packaging for permanent storage.
Charlotte P. Brennand, Extension Food Science Specialist