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Dehydrated Fruits

What is Food Preservation?
The need of the hour, food preservation, is the best and most appropriate method to restore the vitality of any food product for prolonged duration. The prime concern while preserving the food products is to prevent the nutritional value, texture and flavour from being lost.

Prevention of the food material from harmful bacteria, fungi, molds and other microbial organisms is necessary to keep the fruits and vegetables from being spoiled and retain their properties for longer time.

 

The most common processes of food preservation are: Dehydration, spray drying, freeze drying, freezing, vacuum-packing, canning, syrup preservation, sugar crystallization, food irradiation, adding preservatives or inert gases such as carbon dioxide, food irradiation, pulsed electric field processing(PEF treatment), pascalization, pasteurization, emulsification, lactic fermentation.

Various other methods which not only help to preserve fruits and vegetables and add flavor to them are pickling, salting, smoking, preserving in syrup or alcohol, curing, etc.

 

Dehydration
Dehydration has been practiced as the most effective preservation method ever since the human civilizations discovered the magic of sun. Evolving through solar radiation, dehydration has been developed through various other techniques which not only help the storage of fruits but also adds and retain their nutritional qualities.

The oldest and widely practiced method is carried on with the help of following techniques:

  • Traditional Sun Drying
  • Solar Dryers
  • Mechanical Dryers
  • Vacuum freeze drying
  • Vacuum drying
  • Osmotic dehydration
  • Dehydration through explosion puffing
  • Microwave based technique
  • Hot air dehydration processing
  • Scientific cultivation of vegetables, etc.
 
The dehydrating process involves following steps as well:
  • Grading and sorting of the fruits
  • Proper washing
  • Peeling/trimming and size reduction
  • Blanching
  • Chemical treatment
  • Dehydration and packaging in suitable air tight containers and jars.
The other equipment needed to enforce the entire process are cabinet or tray drier, stainless steel vessels, perforated baskets, vegetable cutter, peelers, slicers and handling vessels, etc.

How is the Osmotic Dehydration Carried on?
The normal and most popular dehydration process compiles of three prominent steps as following:

Osmotic Dehydration: It is a simple initiating process in which the fruits are subjected to the osmotic treatment by dipping them into an aqueous solution of sugar under specific required conditions. This leads the water of the vegetables to migrate into the sugar solution thus depriving the fruits of their water quotient. This step involves the maximum dehydration.

Vacuum/Air Drying: The remaining water is lost through this process as it inevitably the the cutting edge method to dry up the remaining water content of the fruits in less than 6 hours. This step further carries on to the final level of packaging.

Packaging: The final drying through vacuum or air enables the fruits to be wrapped up in packages to be marketed to the consumers. The safe and hygienic packaging enables the free supply of nutritious and healthy fruits in all seasons irrespective of their availability otherwise.

Fruits generally compile of more than 75% water content and thus stand the chance to be spoiled by the microbial activities easily and regular methods of storage such as freezing, pickling, salting and so on. therefore dehydration is the best way to get rid of the water and then store them without any problem for longer periods.

Dehydrated fruits generally last for more than five to seven years. And within this time period can be used in numerous ways.

 

Uses of Dehydrated Fruits
The lessened and reduced to 3-5% moisture content of the dehydrated fruits makes them a perfect stored preservative which can be munched on any later times and can also be added to enhance the flavor of numerous other recipes.

The higher sulfur quotient in the dehydrated fruits enables them to prevent the natural browning and it is only due to the same reason that thee fruits have higher sodium content as well.

Just because the dehydrated fruits do not possess sugar additives, the natural fructose levels make these fruits a great munching snack for diabetic people and also for all those who need to keep a watch on their calories.

As the dehydration process utilizes air and no high heat or solar radiations thus the fruits easily retain their food value and the lasting flavor.

Peach and strawberry flavored apple flakes, raisins and many other dehydrated fruit flakes are relished just the way they are. The taste of the crunchy fruit flakes is simply delicious.

The usage of the dried fruits ensure the nutrient balance in a fulfilling diet throughout the year without even worrying about the fact that the fruits are seasonal.

Cakes and muffins find new dimension to their fruitful flavor when mixed with apple, peach flakes in them. The dehydrated fruit flakes also absorb the extra water in the muffins and cakes making them extra crunchy.

Peaches, apples, grapes, apricots, maraschino cherries, mango chips, banana chips, etc. are few of the most prominent fruits stored and used through dehydration processes.

Recipes
Following are a few recipes which use dry and dehydrated fruits as ingredients.

Applesauce Recipe
Its really easy. All you need to do is add water to the dehydrated apple granules and simmer for 15 minutes. Add sugar and cook 2-3 more minutes. Finally add spices and lemon juice to your liking. Cook until desired thickness. the apple sauce is ready and can replace oil in baked goods, give your cakes and cookies another dimension of taste.

Peach Cobbler recipe
Add 4 cups of peach dices to boiling water. Add a cup of sugar. Cook until softened, for about 20 minutes. Combine half a cup cornstarch with half a cup cold water and add to fruit, stirring well. Add cinnamon and ginger if desired. Pour into a pan. Mix two cups of biscuit mix, half a cup margarine, half a cup sugar and one and a half cups water until cake batter consistency. Spread it on the top of peach mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve warm with whipped topping or ice-cream. And get ready for flaunting compliments.

Disadvantages of Sun-Drying

  • Traditional sun-drying of the fruits is highly time consuming.
  • Open drying provides less hygienic conditions for soaking the fruits in the sun.
  • Moreover sun drying is totally dependent on climate conditions and thus can not be processed every day.

Therefore, new and better methods evolved to dehydrate fruits should be applied such as osmotic dehydration and vacuum drying.

The most suitable method to preserve the hygiene, quality, flavor and nutrients of the fruits is dehydration as sun-drying absorbs the vitamins present in the fruits.

Caution
Drying fruits at home might not be very fruitful as it does not fetch the low moisture content required for prolonged storage.

 
 


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