Fruit Dehydration

Dehydration, or drying, is a preservation process that involves the reversible removal of water from the fruit tissues, thereby extending the storage life because microorganisms and the native enzymes of fruits are deprived of the moisture necessary for their activity. However, it is not a sterilizing process, and means must be provided to preserve the low-moisture equilibrium and prevent the fruit tissue from regaining moisture until such time as deliberate reconstitution is desired. Although preservation is usually the principal reason for dehydration, other considerations are often important; for example, significant reductions in the weight and bulk of fruits for economical transport and storage.

Drying fruits is one of the oldest techniques of food preservation; Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians have used it since ancient times. Sun drying was the method applied in early times, and it still accounts for a significant part of the dried fruit consumed in the world today. However, since the latter part of the nineteenth century mechanically dehydrated fruits are produced in increasingly larger quantities.

Today the food dehydration industry is large and extends to all countries throughout the world. The following countries are highly important dried fruit producers: Australia, Argentina, Chile, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States (Table 1). In the United States more than 90% of the dried fruit output is produced in California, where apples, apricots, dates, figs, peaches, pears, prunes, and raisins represent the significant volume of dried fruits; raisins account for over 61% of the total volume (Table 2). Dried fruits, particularly apples, are also produced in Washington and Oregon. Consumption of dried fruits in the United States has remained almost constant during the past 20 years. Annual per capita consumption was 2.47 lb (1121 g) in 1977 and 2.94 lb (1335 g) in 1997 (Fig. 1). The small increase in consumption is largely attributed to the higher use of raisins. Recently the development of an increasing variety of convenience foods, such as instant beverages, breakfast cereal, healthy fruit snacks, and so on, often depend on the

Table 1. Major Dried Fruit Producing Countries

Dried Fruit

Principal Countries of Origin

Apples

Chile, Italy, Spain, U.S.

Apricots

South Africa, Turkey, U.S.

Cranberries

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