Dried Fruits Pack A Lot Of Flavor And Nutrition

By Amy Denney

December 7, 2007 4 min read

TASTY TREATS

Dried fruits pack a lot of flavor and nutrition

By Amy Denney

Copley News Service

Drying is a great way to preserve fruit while it's in season, and it's a wonderful way to enjoy some of your favorite fruits year round.

Foods that have been completely dried have the longest life since organisms that make food spoil require moisture to survive. Fruit can be dried in the sun and in an oven, but dehydrators produce the highest quality product.

Dried fruits are high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat, according to 5 a Day for Better Health. However, dried foods are more dense in calories than their fresh counterparts, which is why the recommended serving size for dried fruits and vegetables is half that of fresh.

For drying at home, peel and slice food into 1/8 to 1/2 inch slices. The higher the water content, the larger the slice should be because the more it will shrink in drying. Dipping fruits into citrus juices (orange, lemon, or pineapple) helps avoid color changes.

If you choose to purchase dried fruit at the supermarket, you should find a good selection of the most popular fruits. A larger selection of items, especially dried vegetables, is often found at natural food stores.

Whether dried at home or purchased, dried fruits and vegetables should be kept in an airtight container. Dried fruit may be frozen, but this sometimes affects the texture and taste of the food.

Shelf life varies from product to product, but most items will keep, if stored properly, for a minimum of one month. Some items, such as raisins, have a significantly longer shelf life of a year or more.

Many recipes require the fruit or vegetable be sliced or diced, which is often easier when the item has been refrigerated overnight. The most practical and common fruit to dry: ripe apples, berries, cherries, peaches, apricots and pears.

BLUEBERRY-CRANBERRY MUFFINS

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/3 cup fat-free sour cream

4 tablespoons sugar

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

8 ounces dried cranberries

Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 F.

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt; stir to mix.

In medium bowl, combine milk, oil, eggs and sour cream; beat with wire whisk until blended. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well all at once. Stir until just moistened.

In medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons sugar and blueberries; toss to coat. Stir gently into batter with cranberries just until distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until light golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool on wire rack 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Nutritional analysis per muffin: 7 g fat, 6 g protein, 63 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 34 mg cholesterol, 113 mg sodium.

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