Out for the day? Think there will be few restaurants and hunger is a concern? Simply fill a baggie with mixed dried fruits, and add some nuts and shredded coconut, if you wish. It won’t spoil, it’s light to carry, it’s an energy booster, it tastes good, it’s good for you and its’ relatively cheap. You are good to go!
Fruit is dried by removing most of its water content by sun drying or dehydrating. Today, pears, dates, apples, prunes, peaches, figs and apricots are considered traditional dried fruits as opposed to many fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mangos which are dried by infusing with a sweetener. Sulfur dioxide is sometimes added to the fruit to improve its shelf life and color. If you’re allergic to it, you can usually find unsulfured, dried fruit in health food stores.
The earliest occurrence of dried fruit was in Mesopotamia about 1700 BCE. It soon spread to Greece and Italy where the people became very fond of it. Plums, peaches and apricots, however, have their origins in Asia recorded back near 3000 BCE.
Apricots are beautiful little, cheerfully bright orange morsels rich in body-loving beta-carotene. A little peach-like, a little plum-like, yet velvety, a bit musky, tart yet smooth while sweet, they lend themselves beautifully to being brandies or liqueurs.
These early Middle Eastern, European treasures were first produced heavily by Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain and Greece with California, France, South Africa, Chile and Argentina rapidly challenging this. In all, there are over ten varieties of apricots. Their trees can live as long and as 100 years, but the apricot fruit perishes rapidly.
Historically, apricots were first heard of 4,000 years ago in China, then recorded in the Persian, now Iranian, culture soon afterward. Because they dry so well, they traveled well to new regions. This rapidly made them a staple of the Egyptian diet, and once they spread in popularity westward to the United Kingdom, it was only a matter of time before they reached the New World. Apricots attracted the attention of Thomas Jefferson by 1778, and he made sure apricot trees were part of his Monticello agricultural scene.
Apricots are rich in vitamin A, B6, C, beta-carotene, niacin, potassium and iron. Continue reading →