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Is it possible to freeze-dry fruit at home without expensive special equipment (or get the same dryness otherwise)? Especially I want to get the fruit to the crisp dryness1 of freeze-dried fruit compared to the still slightly damp / soggy dryness of hot-air dried fruit.

[Edit] Well, turns out, basically no. Freeze-drying not only involves the ability to freeze the food to low temperatures (which can be achieved), but also creating a low pressure environment and controlled heating of the the food in that environment (Not easily achievable or controllable at home). More info from Wikipedia

1. It should feel absolutely dry to the touch, and crumble / break when handled roughly rather than stretch / bend.

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3 Answers

Assuming you have a frost-free freezer (which dehumidifies the cold air), I'd experiment by laying sliced fruit on a sheet (maybe on a layer of waxed paper) and putting it in the freezer. Pull out a slice every day or two to check its crispness. The time necessary will depend on the type of fruit, its moisture content, the slice thickness, and the room's humidity.

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I'll give it a try and report back. thanks! –  user2215 Sep 7 '10 at 2:57
    
So I finally got around to trying that. The fruit did indeed dry, but only to about the same level hot-air dried fruit, not the level I hoped for. –  user2215 Jun 29 '12 at 6:50
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The frost-free freezer that kajaco suggested is definitely worth a try is you have access to one.

An easy hack to get a similar result is to use dry ice. As far as i know, this works for things that have a low amount of water to start with and do not know how apples will behave as they have a lot of water. For this, you need some dry ice, put 2-3 cm of it at the bottom of a cardboard container that has soles on the sides and place the fruit slices on top of it in a single sheet (no stacking)

You may also try to first dry the apples first in the oven in order to get most of the moisture out. You may find a decent guide for that here.

Do remember that in order to get the desired humidity (crumble / break when handled roughly rather) you will need to protect them from any moisture after the drying as well as during the storage. I am almost sure that a simple zip-lock bag will not do the trick and that the air inside the bag / jar may be too moist already at the time of sealing and so it may alter your desired result.

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Most modern freezers are the frost free type. You would know if yours isn't one because you would have to defrost it once a month or so. Ever forget about a bag of frozen veggies for a couple months? (I'm a bachelor, do it all the time) The veggies are shrivelled and there's a bunch of ice in the bag. If you leave anything in there long enough all the moisture will eventually be pulled out and turned to ice.

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I dont understand how this answers the question at all. –  Jay Mar 14 '13 at 5:22
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