Dried Fruit: What you need to know
Dried Fruit: What you need to know
A Time Honored Tradition
So, Dried fruit has been around for a while, Organic dried fruit even longer. Because only relatively recently has mankind started chucking chemicals about with reckless abandon. Before then, even dating back to the stone age, people must have picked up berries left on the branch, dried in the sun, and realized they still tasted good. Through history we see examples of people eating dried fruit. The pharaohs in Egypt were buried with them, not suggesting you should try that. During Ottoman times the Sultans were served seedless dried grapes, hence, Sultanas. US astronauts even snacked on dried apricot bars during the Apollo missions. Now, they are used the world over for their nutritional value, ease of storage and taste.
In fact, dried fruits are now so popular that in Malatya, the capital of Apricots, almost all of it’s harvest is now dried and more than 90% of their whole harvest annually is exported around the world.
In Turkey, which is responsible for over 60% of the world's dried fruits, the Organic movement is growing year on year. In fact, by 2017 over 25% of Turkish dried fruits were produced organically. This shows the world that it is possible to produce good quality, reasonably priced, organic produce.
How do they dry it?
The ways to dry fruits are many and varied. Some use huge, hot air drying machines. Some are dried using a complicated process of freeze drying. The dried fruits industry is filled with unnatural terms like ‘extruding’ and ‘slurry’. Sounds appetising!
We prefer a different method. One that has been used for centuries. It doesn’t take huge machines. It doesn’t take seconds. It takes days, weeks even. It uses the most natural power source known to man. The Sun.
All of our produce is laid out in the fields to dry naturally and organically. It’s taken months for the fruits to fully ripen, so why rush the final process? After some time, in the heat of the Turkish summer, the fruits are judged ready and sent off for processing.
Some dried fruits are dipped in sulphides to keep them looking closer to the original colour. You can see it really clearly in Apricots. Naturally dried apricots are not bright orange, but an aged organic brown colour that shows the time taken to dry and concentrate that wonderful flavour.
When choosing Dried fruit especially, the Organic label means so much more. Not only does it mean that no chemicals have been used growing the fruit. It also shows that the extra process of drying has been done without any further chemicals. This is why it is worth that small, extra cost to choose organic and not just look after the planet, but after your body as well.
So, are they good for you?
Of course, we all know the benefits of eating fruit and dried fruit in particular. There are many websites and publications extolling their virtues.They are packed with fibre and chewy goodness. But, there are some myths, about dried fruit especially, that still linger.
Dried fruit promotes tooth decay. This probably originated by the way the dried fruit can stick to your teeth while eating and coupled with the increased sugar content of the fruits. However, this does not prove to be true. In fact, they have found that raisins actually have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of the bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
Dried Fruit contains more sugar than fresh. Now this is where it can get tricky. Traditionally dried fruit is simply fresh fruit with the water taken out. Processed dried fruit is a whole different ball game. Some processed dried fruits can be up to 85% sugar while still saying they are natural. So, if you stick with natural, organic, unprocessed fruits you can guarantee a healthy snack.
If you eat too much dried fruit, it can upset your stomach. Yes, this is completely correct. Because all fruit contains fibre, which is important for regulating your system. The fibre in dried fruit is concentrated like everything else, it takes about 4kg of fresh apricots to make 1kg of dried. This means that in a 250g bag of dried apricots you have about the same fibre as a whole kilo of fresh! We know, it’s easy to eat a whole bag of dried apricots, as they are so moorish. But you wouldn’t expect to eat a whole kilo of fresh apricots in one sitting would you? And if you did, wouldn't you expect to have an upset stomach?
So what we are saying is,dried fruit can be wonderful. It’s packed with flavour. It’s very, very moreish and is nature’s original snack food.
Enjoy your dried fruit, but in moderation. Have a handful at a time and drink plenty of water with them.