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Is all dried fruit produced in the same manner?

Most vine and tree fruits, including apples, apricots, grapes, mangoes, peaches and pears, are sun-dried or dehydrated. A few, such as prunes, are dried in oven. All are dehydrated to about 2030 per cent of their normal moisture content.

Using different kinds of grapes produces varied results. Currants are dried from a tiny, seedless black grape, sultanas are dried from a sweet, seedless green grape and raisins are dried from several types of grapes, muscat being the largest and sweetest. Store all of these dried fruits in airtight containers and they will keep for up to nine months in a cool and dry place.

Currants, dates, figs, raisins and sultanas are most commonly used in recipes in their dried form. Larger dried fruits, such as apples, apricots, peaches, prunes and pears, are rehydrated by stewing gently, while other dried fruits, such as mango and pawpaw are sometimes rehydrated beforehand by soaking in cold water for at least an hour.

Some fruits are freeze dried, such as apples; some are snap dried, such as pears. These are usually certified organic products. Similar results can he achieved in your own kitchen by using an electric dehydrator.

Australian dried fruits have an excellent quality, but once opened, the packets should be resealed, refrigerated and the fruit eaten within 14 days.

Some brands of vacuum-packed sultanas and raisins have vegetable oil added. Some dried fruits are packed in oxygen barrier pouches with oxygen absorbers enclosed. Sulphur dioxide is usually added to dried fruits like apples, apricots, mangoes, pawpaw, peaches and pears to preserve the color.

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