To dry dates, cut fresh dates in half, and arrange them on food dehydrator trays in a single layer. Dehydrate the dates at 135°F for 8-24 hours. Once dried, store them or grind them into date powder.
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How to Dry Dates in a Food Dehydrator
Drying dates is the best way to preserve the fruit’s natural sweetness and extend its shelf life.
Follow these steps to dehydrate dates in a dehydrator:
- Select fresh dates and wash them thoroughly with clean running water.
- Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
- Cut the dates in half.
- Remove the pits from the dates by gently squeezing the dates to separate the flesh from the pit.
- Chop the pitted dates into halves or quarters (the smaller the pieces, the faster they will dry).
- Place the chopped dates on the food dehydrator trays in a single layer and ensure the pieces aren’t overlapping.
- Set the temperature to 135°F. The drying time depends on the moisture content and size of the dates.
- Let the dehydrator run for 8 to 24 hours to fully dry the dates.
- Monitor the drying process periodically to ensure even drying. Rotating the trays from time to time and flipping the pieces can also help the dates dry faster.
- The dates are dry when they are spongy but not sticky. They should have a slightly wrinkled texture.
- Remove the dates from the food dehydrator and let them cool completely at room temperature before storing them in an airtight container.
- Place the containers of dried dates in a cool environment that is free from moisture and heat.
Can Dates Be Dried in an Oven?
Yes, you can use an oven to dry dates instead of a food dehydrator. Here is how to dry dates in an oven:
- Select fresh and ripe dates with a smooth surface.
- Wash the dates in running water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to 140°F or use the lowest temperature setting. This will help ensure gentle drying and prevents overcooking of the dates.
- If desired, remove the pits from the dates using a sharp knife or your fingers to gently extract the pits.
- Cut the dates into halves or quarters.
- Cover an oven-safe baking tray or cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper.
- Arrange the dates on the baking sheet in a single layer without overcrowding the dates, as this may result in uneven drying.
- Place dates in the preheated oven and leave the door open a few inches to allow moisture to escape.
- Let the dates dry in the oven for 4–10 hours, checking them periodically to ensure they are drying evenly.
- Monitor the drying process to ensure that the dates don’t overcook or dry unevenly. If you notice one part of the baking tray is drying more rapidly, turn the tray or move the tray to a different shelf in the oven to promote even drying.
- Take the dates out of the oven once fully dry, and allow them to cool completely at room temperature.
- Store dried dates in an airtight container. Keep containers in a cool, dry place away from heat and moisture.
How to Make Dried Date Powder
Date powder is made from dried dates and may be used as a natural sweetener instead of sugar. To make dried date powder, follow the steps below:
- Use a blender or a food processor to blend the dried dates in batches until they reach a fine, powdery consistency.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl or container to ensure even processing.
- Sift the powder through a fine mesh strainer and remove any gritty pieces.
- Transfer the dried date powder to an airtight container or spice jar using a food funnel.
- Dried date fruit powder can last for several months when stored in a cool, dry place.
How to Use Dried Date Powder
Here are some ideas on how to enjoy dried date powder and enjoy its health benefits:
- Add date powder to thicken and sweeten smoothies, sauces, and dressings.
- Dried date powder can replace refined sugar in baking recipes such as cookies, cakes, and muffins.
- Dried date powder can be mixed with water to create date syrup.
- Dried date powder contains carbohydrates in the form of glucose, vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and selenium.
- Dried date powder has a rich, caramel-like flavor that can enhance the taste of healthy snacks such as granola bars, energy balls, or protein bars.
- Powdered Medjool dates have a high sugar content and can be added to energy drinks.
How Long Does it Take to Dry Dates?
It takes 8 to 24 hours to dry dates in a food dehydrator and 4-10 hours to dry dates in an oven. The drying time for both methods depends on the moisture content and the size of the dates.
Do Dates Shrink When Dried?
Yes, dates shrink in size during the drying process. This happens because moisture is removed from the fruit. This shrinkage is a natural and expected result of the drying process, and it is seen when drying many different types of fruits.
How to Tell Dates Are Fully Dehydrated
Fully dehydrated dates should feel leathery and no longer sticky to the touch. When handling the dates, they should not be too soft or moist. They should be firm but flexible with a wrinkled texture.
How to Store Dried Dates
Store dried dates and date powder in airtight containers such as canning jars. Label the containers to keep track of their shelf life. Protect them from direct sunlight and heat sources, and keep the containers in a cool, dry place.
Shelf Life of Dried Dates
Properly stored dried dates last for six months in airtight containers at room temperature. Dried date powder lasts 3-4 months in the same conditions. If you want to extend the shelf life of dried dates, freeze them in vacuum-seal bags or Mylar bags and enjoy them within 12 months.