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dried fruit

Fruit from which the majority of the moisture has been dehydrated. The final moisture content of dried fruit usually ranges from 15 to 25 percent. Drying fruit greatly concentrates both sweetness and flavor, and the taste is much changed, as from grape to raisin or from plum to prune. Fruit can be dried in the sun or by machine. Machine-drying usually takes no more than 24 hours. Sun-drying can take three to four times as long, causing additional loss of nutrients through heat and time. Vitamins A and C are the most susceptible to depletion during the drying process, but a wealth of other vitamins and minerals remains in great force. Before drying, fruits are often sprayed with sulfur dioxide gas, which helps preserve the fruit's natural color and nutrients. Though decried by some, clinical research has shown no negative effects from sulfur intake. Imported dried fruit, however, is fumigated with chemical pesticides, which have been proven toxic to humans. Dried fruit is available year-round and comes in five basic designations: extra fancy, fancy, extra choice, choice and standard. These grades are based on size, color, condition and moisture content. Most dried fruit can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, for up to a year. Though dried fruits can be stored longer and take less space, they contain 4 to 5 times the calories by weight of fresh fruit. Dried fruit can be used as is or reconstituted in water. It may be eaten out of hand or put to a variety of uses such as in baked goods, fruit compotes, stuffings, conserves and so on. See also prunes; raisins.