Health Benefits of Dried Fruit

Health Benefits of Dried Fruit
Gold Dust Peach on the tree
A dried piece of fruit is only as good as the fruit you start with. And with 25 years drying and 45+ years growing experience, we’re pretty proud of ours. The tradition of drying fruit dates all the way back to 4000 BC in Mesopotamia. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have made these spectacular, chewy medallions with just about as many different recipes—some healthier than others! Let’s talk about how Frog Hollow’s dried fruit measures up.

Dried fruit is basically an energy-dense, compact version of its fresh counterpart. That original nutritional value is still there. Antioxidants, especially polyphenols; fiber; and potassium especially stand out. These nutrients reduce risk of heart disease, several types of cancer, diabetes, and even degenerative brain diseases.* Eating more dried fruit is associated with a greater intake of nutrients that most US adults don’t get enough of, according to a 9-year-long study. Considering only 24% of women and 14% of men in the US eat the daily amount of fruit that the National Cancer Institute recommends, dried fruit is a great option for those on the go or during off-fruit-season months.

Fresh peach next to dried peaches
Because most of the fruit’s water is lost in drying, the sugar, calories, and nutrients get concentrated into a smaller package and the nutrients to weight ratio shoots up! That’s why dried fruit is so sweet and energy-dense. In our case, we have another thing going for us. We hand-pick our fresh fruit as ripe as possible, which inevitably creates a certain percentage that is just so ripe and juicy that it can’t survive the trip to the farmer’s market. Not to worry! The ripest fruit makes the sweetest dried fruit. As water evaporates, the well-developed sugar content takes center stage. Dried fruit is a beautiful use of fruit that would not have been accepted by a grocery store, but still tastes amazing.

Just as nutrients are more concentrated in dried fruit, so is flavor. Our peaches, when dried, take on even more of a floral, syrup-y sweetness with a light acid touch. Our nectarines give rich, complex flavors akin to brown sugar and caramel. Our already candy-like plums boast even more unreal sparking tartness, a great complement to their rich sweetness. And apricots have a sweet and tangy flavor and still that wonderful fresh apricot taste.

Harvesting peaches by hand
After more than two decades of doing this, the Frog Hollow team knows that being hands-on every step of the way makes a difference. Each of our trees is cared for by hand throughout its entire life to produce the plumpest, healthiest fruit. Then it’s harvested by hand just when our team knows it’s as ripe as possible. When the fruit is ready to be dried, we hand-slice it (and in the case of peaches, also hand-peel), and then we hand-pack it on the farm without sulfur or other additives. It’s rare that other dried fruit operations bother peeling peaches, especially when they can use sulfur to prevent the peach skin from molding. But we know it not only tastes and looks great to peel them, but also better preserves the product without using any sulfur at all.

A sulfured dried apricot is plump and deep orange—very pretty, although it comes at a price. A lot of eaters have a reaction to food produced with sulfur or sulfites, so we don’t care for it (let alone that it’s not organic!). Our sulfur-free dried fruit gives deeper, golden and mahogany hues with no need to add anything additional. Many conventional dried fruit products are also dipped in sugar or syrup before being dried—or they’re candied like dried pineapple or kiwi. It’s generally agreed upon that added sugars make the end result a lot less healthy. You can tell if something has been added by reading the ingredients before you buy. With our dried fruit, on the other hand, you’ll see only two ingredients ever listed: organically grown fruit and sunshine.

There’s an old Egyptian saying, “fel meshmesh” or “when the apricot season comes,” used much like English speakers would say “once in a blue moon.” Something is “fel meshmesh” when it’s unlikely to happen because the time for it is so brief. The harvest season for stone fruit does feel fleeting and each fall when it ends comes a certain kind of mourning. It’s hard to say goodbye to the spoils of summer. Luckily, when we dry our fruit, we extend our options for healthy deliciousness into the wintertime.

Eat our dried fruit out of hand or along with a winter charcuterie. Or try some of our many recipes that incorporate it: dried fruit truffles, a Warren pear and arugula salad, or dried fruit flatbread. Dried plums are especially wonderful in a lamb stew. And as always, thank you for supporting our family farm and the regenerative practices that we hope will sustain us for many generations to come.
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