What is Dried Fruit?

Dried fruit is a fruit in which the vast majority of the water has been removed. The drying fruit can be accomplished through a variety of techniques, such as sun drying or through the use of specialized equipment such as dehydrators or dryers.  Dried fruits are portable and last longer than fresh fruits. In addition to that, they are also very convenient meaning that you can store them in your bag and carry them with you as long as you want without worrying that they will get crushed or spoiling. The idea of drying fruits is believed to have originated in the middle east and the Mediterranean thousands of years ago. Today this technique is widely used across the world to preserve fruits.

Is dried food healthy?

YES, dried fruits are healthy. Most people usually think that dried fruits are not nutritious like fresh fruits, but that is not true. Dried fruits contain all essential minerals and nutrients that fresh fruits have. The only difference between the two is fresh fruit contain water content while dried fruits have very little water content. Multiple studies have revealed that dried fruits are packed with vitamin, fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals that can enhance your overall body health and wellness. Many dried fruits are high in high-quality fiber that helps to prevent obesity and heart-related diseases. They are also packed with antioxidants such as phenol that has been clinically proven to help lower the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.

Most common methods of drying/dehydrating fruit at home

Nowadays, most people prefer to consume dried fruits because they are highly nutritious, very delicious, easy to prepare, and also easy to carry. Dehydrating is also a preservation technique because it helps to remove moisture from the fruits, thus preventing molds, yeast, and bacteria from attacking and spoiling the fruit. When drying fruit at home, three things are required. They include low heat to allow the moisture to evaporate, low humidity to let moisture to leave the fruit to the air, and proper circulation of air to accelerate the drying process. In this section, we are going to discuss the most common methods of drying/dehydrating foods at home.

1. Sun drying

Drying fruit in the sun is not only safe but also an economical way to perverse fruit. Sun drying is one of the oldest fruit drying techniques, and it still used to date by many people across the globe. To use this technique to dry fruit, you need to plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and a steady breeze. Fruits have high acid and sugar content, which make sun drying an ideal drying method. To successfully dry fruit in the sun, you need good air flow and warm temperatures (minimum of 85 degrees). The high temperature will help extract moisture content from the fruit while good airflow will help to disperse the moisture to the surrounding air. Low humidity is also crucial for successful drying. Experts recommend that humidity level should not exceed 60%.

There is no doubt that sun drying is a slow process of drying fruits because it is dependent on whether which is highly unpredictable. Achieving an ideal mixture of proper air flow, humidity, and the temperature is always very difficult, making this process unreliable and time-consuming.

2. Dehydrators

A dehydrator is a device that helps to remove moisture from the fruits to prolong its lifespan. The use of dehydrators to dry fruits is widely used because it is efficient, reliable, and predictable. Most pundits say the dehydrators produce the best quality of dried fruits compared to other drying methods because they help to dry fruits evenly, thus them to retain their nutritional content. The drying process can take 8-24 hours depending on the thickness soft the slices, amount of water content available on the fruit, humidity, temperature, and altitude. Dehydrators are very easy to sue. All that you need to do is wash the fruit, cut it into small pieces, place them in a tray, then put them in the dehydrator to dry. Once the drying process is complete, allow the fruit to cool then touch it your fingers to feel if it is dry. If you are satisfied that the fruit is dry, remove them, place them in packed jars then store them in a cool, dry place.

3. Oven Drying

Another way to dry your fruit is by using an oven. However, this process is usually slower than using a dehydrator because the oven doesn’t have a built-in fan to aid in air circulation, which is a crucial component that speeds the drying process. In addition to that, they also use more energy to dry fruits when compared to dehydrators. However, drying fruits using an oven is better than using other conventional methods such as sun drying. It is also a simple and straightforward process. All that you need to do is place the fruits in baking sheets then place them on the oven, set the required temperature then give it time for the fruit to dry. The time taken for the fruit to dry will depend on its moisture content, size of the slices, among many other factors. Once they have thoroughly dried and cooled down, remove them from the oven for storage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, drying fruits is highly recommended and can make them last for long. Contrary to what many people think, dried fruits are not harmful to your health. Dried fruits are very beneficial and have essential nutrients and minerals that can help enhance your overall health and wellness. However, if you want to get the nutritional value of dried fruits, then you need to ensure that the fruit is well dried. As discussed above, there are many methods that you can use to dehydrate your fruit at home. We recommend that you use a dehydrator, which is simple, straightforward, and reliable.

Related Reference

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins
Winter Squash on a shelf

Cool Storage

Perhaps, the better and most cost-effective way to keep winter squash and pumpkins is cool storage.  For cool storage to be effective the fruit must be consistently stored above freezing and the germination temperature.  Please note, Not all squash store equally well.  With that said, I have stored some varieties a winter squash so long that we have had to eat them just to make room for the New Year’s harvest.

For best results:

  • cure in warm area squash or pumpkins for a week to 10 days,
  • clean off dirt with a damp soft cloth,
  • with a second clean soft cloth wash with 1 cup vinegar to one gallon of water, and allow the skin to dry completely before storage.
  • Store in a cool (40-550 F), dry place to prevent shrivel, lose weight, and to postpone spoilage as long as possible.
  • Position the fruit so that the fruit is not touching one another and so that air can flow freely around the fruit.
  • I recommend placing as many of the fruit where they can be easily seen, for easy inspection for signs for an impending loss. The sweetness and quality of squash or pumpkins often improve, if cured for 2 to 4 weeks, or more in storage.

Where to Store Squash and Pumpkins

where to store your squash is a little less important provided the required temperatures can be maintained. Some of the more common places are root cellars, pantries, basements. Just about any place with a cool constant temperature within the ranges required will do. However, it’s best if it’s a place that’s convenient and semi-protected. You don’t want your squash to be damaged by kids playing or by having to crawl over them to get to something important which might beast stored above are behind them. Perhaps, my favorite throughout the years has been the root cellar I grew up with them in Oregon and I’ve long appreciated their value for storing vegetables of all types including winter squash for long periods of time to do the harshest weather during winter. I have, in places like Virginia and Minnesota, used the basement of the home in which I lived. Pantries can be a little more problematic for a couple of reasons. First, having sufficient space to store all the pumpkins and squash growing volumes at my gardens produce. Second, my pantries are usually attached to the house and tend not to read to retain a constant cool temperature.

Is your storage location too warm?

The best way to tell if your storage location is too warm, other than a thermometer, is that when you break open the squash, if you see seeds that have sprouted, then your storage area is too warm the seeds are germinating.