If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to add some flair to your cocktails, then you need to start dehydrating fruit! This simple kitchen hack will allow you to quickly and easily turn your favorite fruits into delicious garnishes that will elevate any drink. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to dehydrate fruit in an air fryer, as well as how to use it as garnish in some delicious mocktails.
In order to dehydrate fruit with an air fryer, lay out thin slices on a single layer, set your air fryer to the dehydrator setting or its lowest heat setting, and let the fruit dry out. This usually takes around 4 hours, but is highly variable.
Some air fryer models are better than others for dehydrated foods, but just about any model will work. However, using an air fryer may not be the best option for dehydrating fruit for cocktail garnish, so I will compare it to other methods, lay out the pros and cons, and you can decide which is best for your needs.
Why Dehydrate Your Own Fruit?
Dehydrated fruit can be bought at specialty grocery stores and online, but it’s very easy to make and store. Sometimes store bought items have preservatives, added sugar or ingredients you might not want. When you make your own food you can control the ingredients. Plus, you’ll save money – win, win.
The Basics of Dehydrating Fruit
“Dehydrating” something simply means removing the water from it. When you dehydrate fruits, the slices become crispy throughout and darker in color, making a cool vintage aesthetic for your drinks.
By removing the water with the dehydrating process, you’re also preventing bacteria and mold from growing, which makes dehydration a great way to preserve foods.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
Air fryers work by circulating hot air around food in a controlled environment. In short, it can create a fried food texture without deep frying.
So what does this mean for dehydrating fruit? When you thinly slice fruit, the air fryer oven causes the water in the fruit to evaporate, leaving behind the crispy garnish. If you’re going to eat air fry fruit for a snack, it’s often more flavorful (and often sweeter) as dried fruit.
Pros and Cons of Dehydrating with an Air Fryer
Not all air fryers are the same. Though most air fryers will work, air fryers with a dehydrate setting will perform best when you want to dehydrate food. Many air fryers have this function, but there are other factors you should weigh when deciding the best method for dehydrating fruit.
The most important thing to consider when deciding whether or not to use your air fryer for dehydration is the capacity of your air fryer.
If your air fryer is small, it probably doesn’t make sense to use it for dehydrating fruit for garnish. Dehydrating takes time, so you generally want to make a large batch at once. If you have a small air fryer, you can use smaller pieces of fruit to make the most of your space.
Many larger model air fryers come with a dehydrate button and several racks. These are great multipurpose appliances that are perfect for dehydrating fruit garnish.
If your air fryer is too small, there are two common alternative tools for dehydrating foods: the oven or a food dehydrator. A food dehydrator is a one-function appliance, so it doesn’t make sense for most households to have one.
Using an oven is simple: preheat the oven to its lowest temperature. On a cooling rack in a baking sheet, lay out thin slices of fruit in a single layer. Alternatively, you can use parchment, but the lack of bottom airflow will require them to cook longer.
Place in the oven and let them dehydrate. This will take some time (up to 6 hours), but check them at 2 hours, then regularly after. Periodically flip the wheels so they cook evenly.
After weighing these pros and cons, if you’ve decided you want to dehydrate in your air fryer, follow the steps below.
What You Need to Get Started
Dehydrating fruit is fairly simple, but here are the tools you’ll need to gather for the task:
- knife or mandoline slicer
- cutting board
- air fryer
- air fryer racks
- wide mouth mason jar or airtight container
How to Dehydrate Fruit in Air Fryer
The most popular dehydrated fruits for cocktails are citrus – lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit, but you can get creative and dehydrate any fresh fruit. My favorite cocktail garnish is a citrus wheel. Here’s how to make them:
- Wash and dry your citrus.
- Cut the citrus into very thin slices. You can use a knife or a mandoline slicer if you have one.
- Lay out the slices on the rack(s) that fit in your air fryer in a single layer.
- Set the air fryer to “dehydrate” or the very lowest temperature and leave it for at least 2 – 4 hours. The dehydrate time is highly variable based on how thick you cut the fruit and water content, so keep an eye on them.
- When done, they will be dry and crispy. Remove the dehydrator trays from the air fryer oven and set out to cool completely.
- Store in airtight glass jars on your home bar or kitchen for future use.
Citrus wheels are different sizes and colors, and make beautiful garnishes floating on the top of a drink.
It’s always best to make dried fruit in batches, so you can store them in airtight glass jars for easy access on your home bar. They make great decor as well!
Tips and Tricks for Dehydration Success
- Be patient – dehydration takes time
- Periodically check on the progress to achieve the right texture.
- Be creative with what you use for cocktail garnish!
- If you want to make your cocktail garnish more of an edible garnish than citrus wheels, consider using tastier fruits like banana chips, pineapple wedges, or strawberry slices.
How to Use Dehydrated Fruit Garnish in Cocktails
Using citrus wheels as garnish on drinks is easy. When serving a mocktail in a coupe glass, simply float the wheel on top of the liquid. Dehydrated orange slices are great garnishes for an egg white foam topped drink.
If you’re using dehydrated strawberries, put them on a cocktail skewer like you would an olive.
Larger dehydrated fruit can be hung on the side of a beverage. For instance, if you dehydrate a pineapple wedge, simply cut a little slot into the fruit so you can hang it on the rim of your glass. Consider pairing a dehydrated pineapple with fresh pineapple on a drink.
Cocktail garnish isn’t just about presentation – the scents can have an affect on the flavor experience of the beverage, so choose wisely.
When selecting garnish for a mocktail, consider complimentary herbs or spices to go with your dried fruit. Some options might include star anise with blood orange wheel or mint and strawberry.
Delicious Mocktail Recipes for Your Dehydrated Fruit
Here are a couple of great mocktails using non-alcoholic spirits that would be perfect with dehydrated fruit garnish:
- Frozen Non-Alcoholic Piña Colada – alcohol free rum, pineapple juice, coconut milk
- Zero Proof Whiskey Sour – lemon juice, alcohol free whiskey, egg white
- Non-Alcoholic Hot Toddy – Seedlip Spice 94, lemon juice, honey
FAQs about dehydration and air frying fruit
Can you make dehydrated fruit in an air fryer?
You can dehydrate fruit in an air fryer if you have an air fryer with the dehydration function. There is usually a separate button on these models. Also, larger models with air fryer racks are more suited to this task.
Can you dry orange slices in air fryer?
Dehydrated oranges are some of the best fruits to dehydrate for cocktail garnish, especially blood oranges, as they turn out a beautiful dark amber brown color.
How long does it take to dehydrate fruit in an air fryer?
The length of time it takes to create dehydrated food in an air fryer is variable, based on thickness of the slices, water content, and how much you are trying to dehydrate at once.
What is the correct dehydrating temperature?
If you’re using an air fryer with a dehydrate setting, just use that. If you’re using one without or using an oven, the best temperature for dehydration is the lowest – usually 170°F on an oven.
Other Uses for Dried Fruit
Dehydrating food is fun. Once you get the hang of it, you will want to try to dehydrate everything. Air fryer dehydrated foods can be enjoyed as a delicious crunchy snack. Dehydrated banana chips are popular to throw in a nut and granola mix.
If you’re looking for a way to add some extra flair to your cocktails, consider dehydrating fruit in an air fryer. Not only is this a fun process, but the end result makes for beautiful and tasty garnishes. I’ve provided some tips and tricks to get you started, as well as a few delicious recipes to try out. So what are you waiting for? Get dehydrating!