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 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.
In the United States, Americans consumed an average of 1 kg (2.18 lb) (processed weight) per year. Raisins accounted for about two thirds of this.
California produces the largest percentage of the US and the world’s dried fruit crop.
The earliest recorded mention of dried fruits can be found in Mesopotamian tablets dating to about 1500 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.
The technique of drying fruit was likely discovered by accident. It is conceivable that our ancestors came upon fallen fruit, which had dried in the sun, and discovered its sweetness after tasting it.
Dried fruit was prized because of its sweet taste, nutritive value, and long shelf life.
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums (prunes), apricots (kuraga), peaches, and persimmons (gotgam). It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have naturally low moisture contents.
Traditional dried fruit have been a staple of Mediterranean diets for millennia.
One of the greatest military leaders in history, Carthaginian general Hannibal catches the Romans off guard during the Second Punic War by crossing the Alps with troops fuelled by none other than raisins!
Christopher Columbus and many other famous sea voyagers discover the longevity of raisins and brought them aboard their ships.
The word “raisin” is from the Latin word racemus which means a cluster of grapes or berries.
To make 450 g (1 lb) of raisins, over 1.8 kg (4 lb) of fresh grapes are required.
Dried figs were popular in Rome. They were equated with bread and formed a major part of the winter food of country people. Dried figs were rubbed with spices such as cumin, anise and
fennel seeds, or toasted sesame, wrapped in fig leaves and stored in jars.
Prunes are dried plums. They come from specific plum varieties that are intended to be dried rather than consumed as fresh fruit. It was once customary in parts of Europe to call plums “fresh prunes” while Americans use “prune” for the dried version. California is responsible for the majority of the world’s prunes.
Date palm is probably the most ancient cultivated tree in the world. It has been cultivated in North Africa and the Middle East for at least 5000 years.
The date fruit is more than 50 percent sugar by weight.
By adding breadcrumbs, spirits, and eggs to the raisins and other dried fruits in “frumenty,” the traditional English Christmas pudding is born. Farther south, Spain perfects the making of dry and sweet wines from raisins.