Reconstituting dried fruit restores its texture and gives better results for certain recipes, such as sauces and pies. Reconstituting refers to adding moisture to the dried fruit. This reverses the dehydrated state and makes the fruit softer. The process of returning moisture to dried fruit is also called refreshing the fruit. Using the right amount of water to refresh fruit will retain its flavor and make it juicy without sogginess.
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Dried Fruit Basics
The traditional method for drying fruit is to dry it in the sun. It can also be dried in an industrial or home oven, or in a food-dehydrating appliance. Removing moisture from foods protects it from spoiling, because moisture allows microorganisms to grow. Blanching light-colored fruits by steaming them in a double boiler helps to keep them from darkening when they dry. Dried fruit retains the same nutritional value as fresh fruit, although a small loss of vitamin C can occur from blanching, according to the Washington State University website.
Dried Fruit in Baking
A recipe calling for four fresh apricots would require eight reconstituted dried half apricots. Reconstituting them will give the apricots their original size and moisture, so that the recipe will turn out correctly. Generally, 1 cup of dried fruit will make approximately 1 1/2 cups of reconstituted fruit, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. In certain recipes, it isn't necessary to reconstitute dried fruit because the recipe has enough moisture to cause the dried fruit to plump up during cooking or baking, such as a moist stuffing for turkey made with dried cranberries, or adding raisins to oatmeal cookies.
Reconstituting Dried Fruit
Reconstituting dried fruit may take from one to eight hours depending on the type of fruit, the size of the pieces and the water temperature. Using hot water speeds up the process, and smaller pieces of fruit reconstitute more quickly than large pieces. The basic method is to put the dried fruit in a container and add enough water to just cover the fruit. Using too much water can cause a loss of flavor. Keep the fruit in the refrigerator while soaking it to prevent the growth of microorganisms. If the fruit absorbs all the water before it plumps up to full size, add more water. Fruits usually need 150 percent to 200 percent more water to refresh them.
Dried Fruit Tips
To reconstitute dried fruit for use in hot cereal, cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces and simmer it in the cooking water for 1 or 2 minutes before adding the cereal. To reconstitute fruit for a recipe that calls for sugar, wait until the fruit has fully plumped up from soaking before adding the sugar. Adding sugar too soon can make the fruit tough. Reconstitute only as much dried fruit as you plan to use. Although dried fruit resists spoiling, once water is added it can spoil quickly.