This page covers dehydrated fruit; how it's made and the many uses for it. Dehydrated fruit, not only a long storage food when properly processed, also provides a wonderful boost to the variety of your food storage plan. It can also give an added dimension to your everyday cooking.
The dehydrated fruit products we offer are grown primarily in the dry portions of Washington State with some fruit coming from Oregon and Idaho. Together, this area provides more than half the apples grown in the United States, supplying apples, apple juice, cider and dehydrated apples and other apple products to all 50 states and a growing international market. This part of the country grows superior fruit because of it's hot days, cool nights and low humidity. The latest agricultural techniques combined with careful irrigation produce the most luscious apples in the world. The fruit is picked at it's optimum ripeness then quickly and carefully processed to preserve it's quality for you, the consumer.
The process of turning fresh fruit into the finished, dehydrated product is interesting. First, the fresh, ripe fruit is hand sorted. It's important to get the apples at just the correct ripeness. They must be firm enough to peel and cut without crumbling. Special equipment is used to reduce any bruising during movement and processing of the apples. Before processing, the apples are thoroughly washed and rinsed. From the wash they go to the automatic peelers and coring machines. They are then cut into the different sizes for either the apple slices or apple flakes. The cut apples are now coated with 900 to 1,500 parts per million (ppm) sulfur dioxide or sodium sulfite, anti-browning agents. Then it's off to the fruit dryers. The first drier is a 350 foot long gas fired drier. The apples take 45 minutes to pass through this 158 degree F (70 degree C) drier. After passing through this drier the moisture content has dropped to 24%. Now, the apple pieces travel for 45 minutes through a second drier where the moisture is further reduced to 3%. Finally, to finish the processing, strawberry or peach juices and other flavorings are added. Processed at relatively low temperatures, the nutritional value in the fruit remains relatively intact.
Typically, dehydrated fruit has a moisture content of about 25% and has a flexible, rubbery feel. Our dehydrated fruit's water composition has been reduced to a moisture content of 3.5%. Not pliable at this moisture level, our apple pieces break smartly in half when pressure is applied. Dried to this reduced moisture level, our dehydrated fruit will store for a long period of time when stored cool and properly packaged in a low oxygen atmosphere. Fruits dehydrated to this degree are also lighter and therefore cost less to ship, saving you money. Adding 5 lbs. of water to 1 lb of product reconstitutes your fruit to near fresh conditions.
The following comments come from Cheryl, our cannery boss. For many years she has used dehydrated products extensively in her cooking. She uses the strawberry and peach apple flakes in pancakes and says they go wonderfully in muffins - she just throws a handful in. It pulls some of the moisture out of the muffins which reconstitutes the flakes a bit and gives the muffins a wonderful, crunchy flavor. Sometimes she adds the peach flavored apple flakes to quick oats which makes a morning cereal as good as Quaker's Peaches and Cream.
Dehydrated fruits have sulfur in them to prevent the natural browning. Because of this they have a slightly higher sodium content than fresh fruit.
Because these fruits have no added sugar, the sweetness of the natural fructose in dehydrated fruits make a great snack for people who must watch their refined sugar intake.
Drying fruits at home, you can't get the low moisture content required for long term storage.
Golden raisins don't have any added sulfur, they are completely dry and are actually dehydrated grapes.
Fruit Galaxy's ingredients include low moisture peaches, apples, grapes, apricots, maraschino cherries and is much like fruit cocktail when it's reconstituted. As the Fruit Galaxy chunks are so much thicker, it's better to reconstitute them over night in the refrigerator.
These products are not freeze dried. The dehydration process uses air but doesn't use high heat, permitting the fruit to retain it's food value and flavor.
It doesn't take ten minutes to reconstitute the apple flakes in hot water. The apple slices take a little longer because they are thicker.
All these dehydrated fruits go well in trail mixes. Grade school groups that tour our cannery sample different foods at the end of the tour. They always eat a lot of the different fruits. The kids thrive on the peach and strawberry flavored apple flakes, eating them just as they are.
The Apple Sauce is prepared from food grade ingredients under sanitary conditions and is a free flowing mix of apple granules. Soft after a rehydration period of 5 to 10 minutes, reconstituted applesauce is granular but not lumpy. In the making of apple sauce, sulfur dioxide is used at 1,000 ppm. Many people use the dehydrated apple sauce for baby food. If you are going to cook a lot with it, you may be better off reconstituting it and putting it in the refrigerator. It goes a long way. You want it to be really moist rather than on the dry side, especially if you are going to bake with it. It's really good in oatmeal as well as by itself.
Applesauce has an amazing ability to replace oil in baked goods, giving your cakes and cookies the same amount of moistness as if you used oil. This exciting ability gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' Replacing cooking oil with applesauce truly makes low-fat desserts without losing any of the richness. In cake and muffin recipes, substitute oil with applesauce one to one. In cookies, use 1/2 part apple sauce for every part of oil called for. You can even add our applesauce powder with your other dry ingredients. In cakes, put in half as much powder as the oil you are replacing then add an equal amount of water when adding your wet ingredients. Or you can reconstitute your applesauce beforehand and add it reconstituted. We think you'll like this low-fat fat-replacer and encourage you to give it a try.
We hope this month's newsletter has given you some ideas about how dehydrated fruits can be used to enhance your family's meals. Please try Cheryl's tried and true recipes that follow. We're confident you'll like them.
Instructions: Cover 1 1/2 cups dried apple slices with 3 cups water and simmer until tender. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tbs. cornstarch, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and add to apples. Cook until thickened. Add 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice or flavor, 1/2 tsp yellow food coloring (optional). Pour into 9X13 pan. Mix 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup oatmeal (or try using our nutty granola), 1/2 cup flour, 1-2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup margarine. Mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped topping or ice cream while still warm.