Heartland Nuts

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Dried fruit and nuts are a popular combination and make a healthy snack to serve. Dried fruit and nuts are also a popular alternative to the fruitcake as a non-perishable holiday gift. Typical combinations of dried fruit and nuts include berries such as cranberry, citrus fruits such as oranges, and a variety of nuts from cashews to walnuts. Trail mixes will often contain dried fruit and nuts along with other key ingredients such as granola, whole grain cereal, and even chocolate chips.

Because dried fruit and nuts are both a healthy and palatable combination and a convenient, non-perishable food item, they can be packed and shipped, make a great snack for day trips and camping, and are great for parties. Dried fruit and nuts can be bought in grocery and health food stores, but you can also make mixes at home.

While investing in a food dehydrator is the best way to make dried fruit for mixing with nuts, first timers can use a conventional oven. Fruits dried in an oven take a long time, turn dark, and usually come out more brittle than with an electric dehydrator, but oven drying is a viable alternative if you can't invest in new equipment. Select fruit such as cranberries, apricots, oranges, blueberries, or whatever your preference and keep in mind that without the juices, dried fruit will taste differently than fresh. So a fruit you may not like fresh may taste good dried.

Oven drying fruit takes several hours and the oven temperature should be maintained between 140 and 150 degrees. If necessary, peel fruit, remove stems, and slice no thicker than ¼ inch. Cranberries, blueberries, cherries, and other small fruits can be left whole. An electric food dehydrator is quicker, produces better results, and is simply more convenient. Besides mixing dried fruit and nuts, you can also incorporate dried fruit into other meals by adding to salads, plain rice, and yogurt. For trail mix, combine dried fruit and nuts of your choice with chocolate chips, granola cereal, marshmallows, or other bite-sized favorites.

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