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Cut and Dried

Dina Lebel

This the season for dried fruit — especially figs and dates — to grace your Tu B’Shvat table. These shriveled-up fruits aren’t just tasty, they’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals. You can even make dried fruit in your own oven.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

dried fruit

How Do They Dry?

There are three main methods of drying fresh fruit:

1. “Sun drying is the most natural, gentle method, and maintains the fruit’s nutritional value, including its vital vitamins and minerals,” says Leah Leshem. “The downside of sun drying is the high occurrence of fruit rotting. That’s why it’s important to dry the fruit professionally and use only fruits appropriate for sun drying.”

2. Oven drying is the most common method. Oven-dried fruits enjoy unlimited shelf life, as long as the preserving conditions are correct. The minerals in the fruit are also retained in the drying process. But, Leah warns, “The fruit is exposed to intense heat and its nutritional benefits — primarily its vitamins — are compromised.” The calories are retained as well, but since these calories provide a source of good, readily available energy in a compact, stable product, that’s sometimes a plus. When fruit is oven-dried commercially, you have another possible disadvantage: the addition of sulfur and sodium for preservation purposes.

3. Freeze-drying is usually used for fruit intended for processing, industrial baking, and producing fruit concentrate.

 

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