Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is a terrific snack, but cooks also use it in everything from muffins to stews. Drying has the obvious advantage of letting us enjoy our favorite fruit when it's out of season, but it also serves to concentrate the fruit's flavor and sugar. Since high concentrations of sugar ward off bacteria, dried fruit can last up to a year without refrigeration.


If you live in a hot, dry climate, you can dry fruit just by leaving it out in the sun for a few days. Otherwise, you can use an oven or dehydrator. Sulfur dioxide is sometimes added to the fruit to improve its shelf life and color. If you're allergic to it, you can usually find unsulfured dried fruit at health food stores or you can remove some of the sulfur by boiling treated dried fruit for a minute or so, then draining off the liquid.


Varieties:


ajwa date
ajwa date
These dark skinned dates are grown around Medina, Saudi Arabia. They were said to have been a favorite of the prophet Mohammad.
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barhi date (fresh)
barhi date (fresh)
These yellow dates can be peeled and eaten fresh or dried.
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Chinese date (dried)
Chinese date (dried)
When fresh, these fruits are crisp like apples and have a mild, sweet flavor. In the United States, they're most often available dried. Chinese are different than middle eastern palm dates.
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currants
currants
These dried Zante grapes look like tiny raisins. Don't confuse them with the fresh sour berry that also called a currant.
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date
date
These are rich in flavor, nutrients, and calories. Medjool dates are richer and meatier than the other Deglet Noor dates. Other varieties include Khalas, sukkary, barhi, rutab, ajwa and kimia. If you plan to chop them, look for cooking dates, date pieces, or pressed dates--they're a lot cheaper than the exquisite dessert dates that are intended to be eaten whole. Don't confuse dates with fresh dates, which are hard to find in supermarkets.
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deglet noor date
deglet noor date
These honey sweet translucent dates are enjoyed in North Africa. They originated in Algeria.
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dried apple
dried apple
These are popular additions to trail mixes. They're often treated with sulfur to improve their color and shelf life.
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dried apricot
dried apricot
Turkish dried apricots are lighter in color and milder in flavor than other varieties. They're often treated with sulfur to improve their color and shelf life.
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dried apricot paste
dried apricot paste
People in the Middle East usually make a drink out of this fruit leather by putting it into boiling water. During Ramadan, it's often served before and after the day-long fast. Look for it in Middle Eastern markets.
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dried banana
dried banana
These usually come in two forms: long spears, which are very sweet and best for cooking, and chips, which are fried in oil, crunchy, and best suited for trail mixes.
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dried cantaloupe
dried cantaloupe
These are very sweet and have an intense cantaloupe flavor.
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dried carrots
dried carrots
These are used to make muffins and cakes.
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dried cherry
dried cherry
These are large and sweet, and they can serve as a refreshing alternative to raisins in many recipes.
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dried citrus peel
dried citrus peel
Begin with orange, lemon, tangerine, or grapefruit peels, scrape off and discard as much of the bitter white pith as possible, and dry what's left in the sun until hard
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dried cranberries
dried cranberries
With their flashy color and tangy flavor, dried cranberries are a good alternative to raisins in many recipes. Craisins is a well-known brand.
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dried fig
dried fig
These are a great source of fiber and calcium. Varieties include the Black Mission fig, which is a good choice for eating out of hand, and the Calimyrna = Turkish = Smyrna fig, which is best for cooking. If your figs become too dry, you can rehydrate them with water. Don't eat the stems.
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Dried Fruit
Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a terrific snack, but cooks also use it in everything from muffins to stews. Drying has the obvious advantage of letting us enjoy our favorite fruit when it's out of season, but it also serves to concentrate the fruit's flavor and sugar. Since high concentrations of sugar ward off bacteria, dried fruit can last up to a year without refrigeration. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you can dry fruit just by leaving it out in the sun for a few days. If not, you can use an oven or dehydrator. Sulfur dioxide is sometimes added to the fruit to improve its shelf life and color. If you're allergic to it, you can usually find unsulfured dried fruit at health food stores. In a pinch, you can remove some of the sulfur by boiling treated dried fruit for a minute or so, then draining off the liquid.
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dried mango
dried mango
These are sometimes coated with sugar.
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dried mulberries
dried mulberries
These are the size of large raisins, and they taste like very dry figs. Look for them in Middle Eastern markets.
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dried nectarines
dried nectarines
These are similar to dried peaches, but often a bit more expensive. They're often treated with sulfur.
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dried papaya
dried papaya
These are sometimes coated with sugar.
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dried peach
dried peach
These are similar to dried apricots, only larger and milder. They're often treated with sulfur.
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dried pear
dried pear
These don't have the cloying sweetness of some dried fruits. They're often gassed with sulfur dioxide in the drying process in order to improve their color and shelf life.
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dried persimmon
dried persimmon
These often have a white, sugary residue, which is edible.
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dried pineapple
dried pineapple
These are sometimes coated with sugar.
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dried strawberries
dried strawberries
These are sweet and chewy, and they're great in trail mixes or granola.
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golden raisin
golden raisin
These are more tart than ordinary raisins.
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grated coconut
grated coconut
Bags of grated coconuts are usually stored among the baking supplies in larger markets. Varieties include dried or desiccated coconut, flaked, angel flake, moist, sweetened and unsweetened, toasted and untoasted, and macaroon coconut. To make your own: To grate, peel off the brown skin, then grate the white flesh with a grater, food processor, or vegetable peeler. To toast, spread unsweetened grated coconut on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until coconut is golden (about 5 minutes).
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halawi date
halawi date
These amber-colored sweet chewy dates are grown extensively in Iraq.
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khalas date
khalas date
This date originated in Saudi Arabia.
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kimia date
kimia date
These dark dates are grown widely in southern Iran. They are moist and soft.
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kokum
kokum
This Indian souring agent is made from dried mangosteen peels. It's often used in fish dishes. Look for it in Indian markets.
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litchi nut
litchi nut
These are sun-dried litchis. The outer shells are brown and the meat inside looks like a large raisin. Look for them in Asian markets.
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medjool date
medjool date
These large sweet dates a very popular. If picked early they are called rutab dates. They originated in Tafilalt, Morocco but are enjoyed around the world.
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muscat raisins
muscat raisins
These are large and very sweet.
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prune
prune
In a marketing makeover, producers are starting to call these dried plums instead of prunes. Whatever you call them, they're sweet and just loaded with dietary fiber, iron, and other nutrients. You can eat them whole, chop them into sauces and stews, or make a compote out of them.
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raisins
raisins
The common raisins we see on supermarket shelves are usually dried Thompson seedless grapes. Golden raisins are amber in color and somewhat tart--many cooks prefer them over ordinary raisins for baking and cooking. Muscat raisins are dark and very sweet, and they work well in fruitcakes. Currants are about one-quarter the size of ordinary raisins, and are typically used in baked goods. Store raisins in the refrigerator after you open the package.
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sour prunes
sour prunes
Look for these in Middle Eastern markets.
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sukkary date
sukkary date
Sukkary dates are golden yellow, dry, soft and sweet. They are commonly grown in Saudi Arabia.
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sun-dried tomatoes
sun-dried tomatoes
Dried tomatoes have a richer, more concentrated flavor than ordinary tomatoes. They're great for snacking, or tossing in salads or sauces or on pizzas. Dried tomatoes usually come either dry or packed in oil. If they're hard and dry, steep them in boiling water for about five minutes before using them.
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