Jul 6, 2023
We love grapefruit because of two things. First, they’re almost as sweet as oranges. Imagine a cross of the tangy sweetness of oranges and the exotic sourness of pomelo. Another is that it’s a delicious superfood. It’s full of vitamin C and A, magnesium, folate, zinc, and iron that help keep our bodies healthy.
As much as we want to have fresh grapefruit in our pantry, we can’t always have it. It’s one of the highly perishable fruits around because of the high water content. So we decided to preserve it without losing all those excellent nutrients. Thankfully, we have our freeze dryer to do it for us!
Wash the grapefruit thoroughly to get all the dirt out of the skin. If you want a really thorough wash, then use a 1:1 water and vinegar solution. This way, all the sticky dirt plus chemicals are easily removed. For added measure, get the organic ones so you know you’re eating healthy and safe food.
Slice the grapefruit thinly. You can use a mandolin or slicer to cut your prep time. Just be careful because they are super sharp. These are really handy because they can help you get even, consistent slices. What’s more, sliding the fruit across the surface is totally zen. If you don’t have a mandolin, a handy knife is just fine. As long you get even slices, you’re good to go.
You can keep the skin on the grapefruit or peel it; it’s totally up to you. Peeling is good if you love the tangy grapefruit flavor but not the bitter taste. If you’re concerned over wastage (as we are), watch this great video of how to peel and segment the fruit. This is a good video to follow if you want segments instead of slices. We find that the skins on the segments lengthen the freeze-drying time. With the technique shown in this video here, you no longer have to worry about segment membranes. Makes it easy to take out the seeds, too. And just in case you’re wondering, any handy chef’s knife and a paring knife can do the trick. Make sure they’re sharp, or you’ll end up with a big mess. Be careful, though, and don’t cut yourself.
Seeds have a tough membrane that makes them nearly impossible to freeze dry. The membrane locks in moisture that can ruin a good batch of freeze-dried grapefruit. Be diligent in combing through each slice and segment for seeds. You need to get them out, no matter how small or big they are. We’ve heard of horror stories of ruined freeze-dried citrus all because seeds weren’t taken out.
You can also put in some added flavor and taste to your grapefruit. Here we used Stevia, a plant-based sweetener. It does take some getting used to, as some say it’s kind of bitter. Others say it has a minty flavor. For us, we’re totally fine with it. You can use sugar, if you want. Don’t use honey because it doesn’t freeze-dry well. Add in some cinnamon also, for another layer of aroma and flavor. If this is going to be the first time you’ll use cinnamon to grapefruit, start with a small dash. But If you’re crazy about cinnamon, go ahead and see how far you can go!
Once you prepare your grapefruits, you can layer them on the tray using parchment paper. First, line the tray with parchment paper to prevent them from sticking. Then put another piece of parchment paper on top of the grapefruit and layer another batch. This way, you get to freeze dry more using one tray. You can also crowd grapefruit in your freeze-dryer tray if you’re out of parchment paper. Be aware that grapefruit slices stick to each other and can be hard to separate. If you’re okay with broken pieces, then feel comfortable using this method.
Pre-freezing grapefruit is optional. It’s good practice if you want to shorten freeze drying time, especially in hot summer months.
Pre-freezing takes a bit of patience. Once you put the trays of grapefruit in the freezer, you can’t open the door. Opening and closing the door causes a sudden drop in temperature that interferes with the quality of freezing. For better consistency and texture, keep the freezer temperature stable until the grapefruit slices are completely frozen.
When you get your grapefruit all nice and prepared, it’s time to start freeze-drying.
Note: if you pre-froze the grapefruit, adjust the freezing time accordingly.
The grapefruit should be dry and brittle. If you touch a part that’s a bit soft, cool, and a bit moist, put the tray back in the freeze dryer. Then add a bit more drying time to get all the moisture out.
Our favorite, obviously, are Mylar bags. They’re virtually impermeable, which makes them great for long-term storage. What we like most about them is that they don’t take up a lot of space. Very handy if you only have a small area for storage. You can use either a sealer for this, or a flat iron to close the top once you got your grapefruit ready.
Others also prefer mason jars for several reasons. One is so that they can see if the freeze-dried grapefruit is still okay. Another is it’s good storage for on-demand use. There is no need to use special equipment to re-seal if you’re always opening. What’s more, glass is impermeable. With a tight vacuum seal, you have a container that keeps away air unlike any other.
Whatever you choose, just remember to keep the containers in a cool, dark place. The temperature shouldn’t go 72°F (22°C). Heat can ruin the quality and also cause spoilage. Light can also break down your freeze-dried fruit’s nutrients, color, and flavor.
There are so many different uses for freeze-dried grapefruit. You can grind them in your food processes and add them to your steak glaze. If you’re a fan of fish, it’s an excellent way to add flavor and tang to your recipe.
You can also use the grapefruit you flavored with cinnamon in your tea and lemonade. Adding slices can flavor your water for a refreshing drink when you work out. For smoothies, put the freeze-dried fruit along with the rest of your ingredients, then buzz.
You can also use freeze-dried rinds for fragrance in your home. Add a slice or two to your potpourri or infuse them in your essential oils. There are so many ways to use them, and it’s fun experimenting with which one will work.
Have you tried freeze-drying grapefruit? Or have questions before you freeze-dry your own? Let us know in the comment section.
Also, subscribe to our Freeze Dried Guide YouTube Channel. We’ll share videos on how-tos and tips about freeze-drying.