You can rehydrate dried fruit by simply reversing the dehydration process: Soak it in water. But even though the simplest method is often the best method in the kitchen, dried fruit gives you so many options -- incorporating herbs, spices and liqueurs, for example -- you can make a good dish great by taking the rehydration method to the next flavorful level.
If you only need to rehydrate the fruit for baking -- and you should always rehydrate dried fruit before baking, or else it absorbs the cake's or bread's moisture instead, resulting in a dried baked good -- place it in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over it to cover it by about 1 inch. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit soak until it plumps -- the exact amount of time depends on the fruit's dryness. Then strain the water.
Rehydrating During Cooking
Flavorful liquids make rehydrating dried fruit fun -- you can create thousands of flavor combinations that add new facets to both savory and sweet dishes. When braising meat, add a handful of dried fruit to the liquid in the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking. A mix of peaches and apricots, cranberries and pears, or cherries and apples added to pork, lamb or duck play well off the fattiness of the meat, and they absorb all those savory juices rendered during cooking.
Liqueurs and Other Liquids
Add the dried fruit to a saucepan and cover it with the flavorful liquids of your choice. Peaches in sauternes or cherries in red wine are classic combinations. Next, set the heat to low, and heat the fruit until it plumps. To layer flavors, use liqueur or liquor to rehydrate its parent fruit -- apples in Calvados, cherries in kirsch and oranges in Grand Marnier make a great starting point.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.