Dried fruit is fruit that has been dried, either naturally or through use of a machine, such as a dehydrator. Vine fruits make up over three-quarters of the total global dried fruit volume. Prunes (also referred to as plums) and dates are other examples of popular dried fruits in the EU. Dried fruit has a long shelf life and can therefore provide a good alternate to fresh fruit, allowing out of season fruits to be available. Drying is a good way to preserve fruit in the absence of refrigeration. Dried fruit and vegetables are whole, cut, sliced, broken or powdered, but not prepared further. In addition to drying, certain preservatives may be added to maintain the equality. For instance, sulphur dioxide is added to prevent fruit discolouring. The use and content of preservatives in food is regulated by the EU (see also paragraph 10 on legislative requirements in the CBI market survey ‘The preserved fruit and vegetable market in the EU’ and chapter 5 of this Survey). Organic dried fruit is produced without sulphur which results in dark fruit and the flavour is much more characteristic. Vine fruits
Vine fruits are essentially dried grapes and comprise sultanas, raisins and currants. The sultana is a soft, juicy, amber coloured fruit with a very sweet flavour. It is largely produced from a seedless white grape and varies in shape from round to oval according to variety. The majority is produced from the Thompson seedless grape. The sultana has its own distinctive sun-drying treatment which varies depending on origin, but which differentiates it from a raisin. One method is to spray the grape with a vegetable-based drying oil, prior to sun-drying. The actual sun-drying process can also vary, depending on country of origin. One method is to sun-dry the clusters of fruit on racks in partial shade. Another method is to place the fruit in the open sun on specially shaped drying areas. Drying can take from a week to ten days until the moisture content has been reduced sufficiently (to around 16%) to produce succulent sultanas. The fruit is then washed and cleaned and given a fine coating of vegetable oil. This keeps the fruit moist and prevents the berries from sticking together. Raisins, dark brown and wrinkled with a sweet mellow flavour, are produced from unseeded or seeded, white or black grapes. The vast majority is, however, produced from the seedless white Thompson grape. A grape becomes a raisin when its moisture content has been reduced through sun-drying, to around 16%. The grape is harvested when ripened to its fullest and is picked in clusters. At this stage the methods implemented for sun-drying vary greatly in accordance with the different countries of origin. Methods used include drying the grapes on clean paper trays between the vines, or placing the grapes on special concrete drying areas. The fruit lies in the full blaze of the sun, as opposed to partial shade, for 2-3 weeks until the grape's moisture content has been reduced to around 16% into the caramel brown raisin we are familiar with. The raisins, as with sultanas, are packed into storage bins to keep the fruit moist, and are washed and oiled before export. Currants are dried, black, seedless grapes. All currants derive from the same variety of grape known as the Corinth and this is from where the word “currant” originated. The methods for sun-drying currants vary according to the climate and soil of the region, but keeping the grape in the shade for the first part of the drying period is said to produce the best quality currants.
Dried tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, and bananas are becoming a more common item in European health food stores and supermarkets, where they are sold pre-packed in cellophane bags as well as in bulk (by weight). Usually, these products are sold with sugar added for sweetness and sulphur added for color retention, although “all natural” product is preferred by the health food stores. Other major developed...
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