Apricots, which contain lots of healthy vitamin C and vitamin A, won't last more than a few weeks in the refrigerator unless you dehydrate them. Dehydrated apricots can last up to two years in the fridge, and you can dry them out yourself in a dehydrator or your oven.
Prepping the Apricots
Use ripe but not overtly soft apricots. Discard any moldy or bruised fruits. Wash your apricots in cool, running water to remove any dirt and debris. Pull the apricots apart into halves with your fingers or using a knife, and remove the pits. Pop out the middle of each apricot half with your finger to expose this part of the fruit to the air when you dry them out. You don't have to peel the apricots, because their skin is safe to eat.
Pretreating the Apricots
Pretreat your apricots with vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, to prevent them from becoming discolored and help preserve their vitamin content during the drying process. Mix 1 teaspoon of crushed 500 mg vitamin C tablets in a quart of water and pour it into a plastic bag. Soak your apricots in the solution for five minutes, shaking the bag every minute to fully coat the fruit. For a sweeter option, simmer your apricot halves in a solution of 1 part sugar, 1 part corn syrup and 2 parts water for 10 minutes. Allow the apricots to sit in the warm syrup for 45 minutes after removing them from the heat.
Drying the Apricots
Place the apricot halves in a single layer on each sheet of your dehydrator. Set the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and allow the apricots to dry for 18 to 24 hours until pliable, not crunchy. To dry apricots in the oven, set the temperature to 140 Fahrenheit and place the apricots on wire cooling racks lined with cheesecloth. Prop open the oven door and place a fan near the opening to encourage good circulation. Dry for 24 to 36 hours. Keep children and pets away from your oven during the drying process.
If your home oven does not reach temperatures as low as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, there are other options. Ovens that do not go below 200 degrees Fahrenheit can be adapted to dehydrate apricots and other fruits by drying the fruit at this temperature for eight hours. Once the fruit is dried, place it loosely in a plastic bag or glass container in a warm, dry area. Shake the container two times each day until it is completely dry and no moisture beads form inside the container. If beads of moisture do appear, remove the fruit and place the apricots in the oven at 200-degrees for an additional two hours. If properly stored, the dried apricots should keep for up to one year without spoiling.
While you can dry apricots in the sun, sun drying requires temperatures above 98 Fahrenheit and low humidity to prevent spoilage during the process, according to the Utah State University Extension website. Sun-drying apricots can take around four days. You must freeze your sun-dried apricots for two days at 0 Fahrenheit to pasteurize them due to possible outdoor contamination.
Storing the Apricots
Allow your apricots to cool, then place them in large glass storage jars to condition them. Shake the jars daily for two weeks. If you notice any condensation, dry the apricots for an hour or so more at 140 Fahrenheit before placing them back in the jars to condition again for two weeks. Once thoroughly dry, store the dried apricots in resealable plastic bags. Place them in the pantry for one to three months or up to two years in the refrigerator, set to 40 Fahrenheit or below.
Susan Paretts has contributed to a variety of publications about nutrition including Livestrong, Food & Nutrition, Healthfully, Real Simple, Our Everyday Life and the Houston Chronicle, among others. Her expertise is in healthy eating, vegan choices and organic foods.