World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Dried fruit

Article Id: WHEBN0000546099
Reproduction Date:

Title: Dried fruit  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Panjiri, Bread pudding, Rock cake, List of dried foods, Great Lent
Collection: Dried Fruit, Snack Foods
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Dried fruit

Dried fruit
Dried fruit and nuts on a platter
Origin Mediterranean, Mesopotamia
Use Preservation of fruit for sweeteners or snacks
Production Earliest: Dates and raisins
Biggest modern: Raisins
Nutrition Dried fruit have most of the nutrition value of fresh fruit

Dried fruit is fruit from which the majority of the original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia, and is prized because of its sweet taste, nutritive value, and long shelf life.

Today, dried fruit consumption is widespread. Nearly half of the dried fruits sold are raisins, followed by dates, prunes, figs, apricots, peaches, apples and pears.[1] These are referred to as "conventional" or "traditional" dried fruits: fruits that have been dried in the sun or in heated wind tunnel dryers. Many fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mango are infused with a sweetener (e.g. sucrose syrup) prior to drying. Some products sold as dried fruit, like papaya, kiwi fruit and pineapple are most often candied fruit.

Dried fruits retain most of the nutritional value of fresh fruits. The specific nutrient content of the different dried fruits reflects their fresh counterpart and the processing method.


  • History 1
  • Production 2
  • Health 3
    • Glycemic Index 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Traditional dried fruit such as raisins, figs, dates, apricots and apples have been a staple of Mediterranean diets for millennia. This is due partly to their early cultivation in the Middle Eastern region known as the Fertile Crescent, made up by parts of modern Iraq, Iran and Syria, southwest Turkey and northern Egypt. Drying or dehydration also happened to be the earliest form of food preservation: grapes, dates and figs that fell from the tree or vine would dry in the hot sun. Early hunter-gatherers observed that these fallen fruit took on an edible form, and valued them for their stability as well as their concentrated sweetness.[4]

Nineveh: Procession through groves of date palms, one of the world's first cultivated trees

The earliest recorded mention of dried fruits can be found in Mesopotamian tablets dating to about 1700 BC, which contain what are probably the oldest known written recipes. These clay slabs, written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylonia, were inscribed in cuneiform and tell of diets based on grains (barley, millet, wheat), vegetables and fruits such as dates, figs, apples, pomegranates, and grapes. These early civilizations used dates, date juice evaporated into syrup and raisins as sweeteners. They included dried fruits in their breads for which they had more than 300 recipes, from simple barley bread for the workers to very elaborate, spiced cakes with honey for the palaces and temples. Because cuneiform was very complex and only scribes who had studied for years could read it, it is unlikely that the tablets were meant for everyday cooks or chefs. Instead they were written to document the culinary art of the times. Many recipes are quite elaborate and have rare ingredients so we may assume that they represent "Mediterranean haute cuisine".

The date palm was one of the first cultivated trees. It was domesticated in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. It grew abundantly in the Fertile Crescent and it was so productive (an average date palm produces 50 kg (100 lbs) of fruit a year for 60 years or more) that dates were the cheapest of staple foods. Because they were so valuable they were well recorded in Assyrian and Babylonian monuments and temples. The villagers in Mesopotamia dried them and ate them as sweets. Whether fresh, soft-dried or hard-dried, they helped to give character to meat dishes and grain pies. They were valued by travelers for their energy and were recommended as stimulants against fatigue.

Temple of Nahkt, Egypt. Harvesting grapes, many of which would be dried into raisins.

Figs were also prized in early Mesopotamia, Israel and Egypt where their daily use was probably greater than or equal to that of dates. As well as appearing in wall paintings, many specimens have been found in Egyptian tombs as funerary offerings. In Greece and Crete, figs grew very readily and they were the staple of poor and rich alike, particularly in their dried form.

Grape cultivation first began in Armenia and the eastern regions of the Mediterranean in the 4th century BC. Here, raisins were manufactured by burying grapes in the desert sun. Very quickly, viticulture and raisin production spread across northern Africa including Morocco and Tunisia. The Phoenicians and the Egyptians popularized the production of raisins, probably due to the perfect environment for sun drying. They put them in jars for storage and allotted them to the different temples by the thousands. They also included them in their breads and their various pastries, some made with honey, some with milk and eggs.

From the Middle East, these fruits spread through Greece to Italy where they became a major part of the diet. Ancient Romans ate raisins in spectacular quantities and all levels of society, including them as a key part of their common meals, along with olives and fruits. Raisined breads were common for breakfast and were consumed with their grains, beans and cultured milks. Raisins were so valued that they transcended the food realm and became rewards for successful athletes as well as premium barter currency.

Figs in basket, Pompeii: Dried figs were very popular in ancient Rome.

Having dried fruits was a must in ancient Rome as these instructions for housekeepers around 100 BC tell: "She must keep a supply of cooked food on hand for you and the servants. She must keep many hens and have plenty of eggs. She must have a large store of dried pears, sorbs, figs, raisins, sorbs in must, preserved pears and grapes and quinces. She must also keep preserved grapes in grape-pulp and in pots buried in the ground, as well as fresh Praenestine nuts kept in the same way, and Scantian quinces in jars, and other fruits that are usually preserved, as well as wild fruits. All these she must store away diligently every year."[5]

Figs again were extremely popular in Rome. Dried figs were equated with bread and formed a major part of the winter food of country people. They were rubbed with spices such as cumin, anise and fennel seeds, or toasted sesame, wrapped in fig leaves and stored in jars.

Plums, apricots and peaches had their origins in Asia.[6] They were domesticated in China in the 3rd millennium BC and spread to the Fertile Crescent where they were also very popular, fresh and dried alike. They arrived in Greece and Italy much later and were very expensive but valued in the preparation of gourmet dishes with port or stewed with honey and spices.


California Dried Fruit Production (Dry Basis)[7]
Fruit Tons
Apricots 1,970
Dates 16,300
Figs 14,500
Peaches 1,365
Pears (bartlett) 400
Prunes 81,000
Raisins 350,000
Dried fruits less commonly produced: 1 zante currants, 2 black mulberry, 3 white mulberry, 4 physalis, 5 aronia (chokeberries), 6 sea-buckthorn, 7 raspberry, 8 kumquats, 9 white raisins (dried in the shade), 10 blueberries, 11 goji, 12 cherries, 13 cranberries, 14 sour cherries, and 15 barberries.

Today, dried fruit is produced in most regions of the world, and consumption occurs in all cultures and demographic segments. In the United States, Americans consumed an average of 2.18 lb (1 kg) (processed weight) of dried fruit in 2006. Raisins accounted for about two thirds of this.[8] California produces the largest percentage of the US and the world's dried fruit crop. It accounts for over 99% of the US crop of raisins and dried plums, 98% of dried figs, 96% of dried peaches, 92% of apricots and over 90% of dates. Most of California dried fruit production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley where the soil and climate, especially the hot, dry summers, provide ideal growing conditions. While these fruits were commonly dried in the sun in the past, now only raisins are almost entirely naturally sun-dried.[9]

Fruits can be dried whole (e.g., grapes, berries, apricot, plum), in halves, or as slices, (e.g., mango, papaya, kiwi). Alternatively they can be chopped after drying (e.g., dates), made into pastes, or concentrated juices. The residual moisture content can vary from small (3 – 8%) to substantial (16 – 18%), depending on the type of fruit. Fruits can also be dried in puree form, as leather,[10] or as a powder, by spray of drum drying. They can be freeze dried. Fresh fruit is frozen and placed in a drying chamber under vacuum. Heat is applied and water evaporates from the fruit while still frozen".[11] The fruit becomes very light and crispy and retains much of its original flavor. Dried fruit is widely used by the confectionery, baking, and sweets industries. Food manufacturing plants use dried fruits in various sauces, soups, marinades, garnishes, puddings, and food for infants and children.

As ingredients in prepared food, dried fruit juices, purées and pastes impart sensory and functional characteristics to recipes:

Dried apricot paste from Syria
  • The high fiber content provides water absorbing and water binding capabilities, tenderization and nutritional enhancement.
  • Organic acids such as sorbitol act as humectants, provide dough and batter stability, and control of water activity.
  • Fruit sugars add sweetness, humectancy, surface browning and control water activity.
  • Fruit acids, such as malic acid and tartaric acid, contribute to flavor enhancement and act as anti-microbial agents (suppress mold and bacterial growth).
  • Vitamins and minerals increase nutritional value and label appeal.
  • Phenolic compounds slow down lipid oxidation in meats. They add a natural caramel color.

The high drying and processing temperatures, the intrinsic low pH of the fruit, the low water activity (moisture content) and the presence of natural antimicrobial compounds in dried fruit make them a remarkably stable food. There is no known incident of a food-borne illness related to dried fruit.

Both golden and conventional raisins are made from the same grape. Golden raisins are treated with sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide is used as an antioxidant in some dried fruits to protect their color and flavor. For example, in golden raisins, dried peaches, apples and apricots sulfur dioxide is used to keep them from losing their light color by blocking browning reactions that darken fruit and alter their flavor. Over the years, sulfur dioxide and sulfites have been used by many populations for a variety of purposes. Sulfur dioxide was first employed as a food additive in 1664, and was later approved for such use in the United States as far back as the 1800s.

Sulfur dioxide, while harmless to healthy individuals, can induce asthma when inhaled or ingested by sensitive people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that one out of a hundred people is sulfite-sensitive (allergic), and about 5% of asthmatics are also at risk of suffering an adverse reaction. Given that about 10% of the population suffers from asthma, this figure translates to 0.5% of the whole population with potential for sulfite-sensitivity. These individuals make up the subgroup of greatest concern and are largely aware of the need to avoid sulfite-containing foods. Consequently, the FDA requires food manufactures and processors to disclose the presence of sulfiting agents in concentrations of at least 10 parts per million.[12]

In Taipei, Taiwan, a 2010 city health survey found one-third of tested dried fruit products failed health standard tests, most having excessive amounts of sodium cyclamate, some at levels 20 times higher than the legal limit.[13]


Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index of Different Dried Fruits[14]
Fruit Glycemic Index
Dates (brand or variety not specified 62
Dried Apples (brand not specified) 29
Dried Apricots (brand not specified) 30
Dried Peaches 35
Dried Plums (Sun Sweet) 29
Figs (Dessert Maid) 61
Raisins (Sun-Maid) 54

Traditional dried fruit have a low to moderate Glycemic Index (GI) – a measure of how a food affects blood sugar levels. GI measures an individual's response to eating a traditional dried fruit).[16]

See also


  1. ^ Hui, YH. Handbook of fruits and fruit processing. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford UK (2006) p. 81
  2. ^ Brothwell D, Brothwell P. Food in Antiquity: A survey of the diet of early people. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London (1998) pp. 144–147
  3. ^ Tannahill R. Food in History, Three Rivers Press, New York (1998) pp. 49–51
  4. ^ Trager J. The food Chronology: a food lover's compendium of events and anecdotes, from prehistory to the present. Henry Holt and Company Inc, New York, NY 1995
  5. ^ Cato, (M.P.) "On Agriculture". Harvard University Press, Cambridge. (1934) (W.D. Hooper, translator), retrieved 2011-12-19
  6. ^ Janick J. "History of Horticulture" (2002), retrieved 2011-12-19
  7. ^ Agricultural Statistics Board, USDA. "Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2007 Summary", July 2008, retrieved 2011-12-19
  8. ^ United States Department of Agriculture. "Fruit and Tree Nut Situation and Outlook: A Report from the Economic Research Service"
  9. ^ Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University. "Fruits", retrieved 2011-12-19
  10. ^ National Center for Home Food Preservation—"Drying Fruits and Vegetables", accessed 28 June 2009
  11. ^ "Crispy Green product info", retrieved 2011-12-19
  12. ^ Science & Research Volume IV: Food and Color AdditivesFood and Drug Administration, , retrieved 2011-12-19
  13. ^ China Post, retrieved 2011-12-19
  14. ^ Glycemic index, retrieved 2011-12-19
  15. ^ The Glycemic Index and GI Database, University of Sydney, retrieved 2011-12-19
  16. ^ Kim Y et al. "Raisins are a low to moderate glycemic index food with a corresponding low insulin index" Nutr Res 2008; 28:304–308

Further reading

  • Al-Sahib W and Marshall RJ. "The fruit of the date palm: Its possible use as the best food for the future?" J Food Science Nutr 2003; 54: 247–59
  • Carughi A. "Health Benefits of Sun-Dried Raisins".
  • Grivetti LE and Applegate EA. "From Olympia to Atlanta: Agricultural-historic perspective on diet and athletic training". J Clinical Nutr 1997; 127:S860–868
  • Hooshmand S and Arjmandi BH. "Viewpoint: Dried plum, and emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health". Ageing Res Reviews 2009; 8: 122–7

External links

  • Drying and Storing Dried Fruit
  • Drying Apples
  • California Dates Administrative Committee
  • California Fig Advisory Board
  • California Dried Plum Board
  • California Raisin Marketing Board
  • Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation
  • How to Dry Fruit Leathers National Center for Home Food Preservation
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.