May 17, 2019 6:11 am Leave your thoughts
Looking for dried fruit? We’ve got a wonderful array of it at Naturally Good Food. Our shelves are stocked with amazing apricots, perfect prunes, fragrant figs, delicious dates, and raisins, currants and sultanas that are plump with summer sunshine and natural sugars. We specialize in organic varieties of dried fruit and provide these in pack sizes ranging from snack-size up to bulk boxes.
Increasingly, customers are contacting us to ask why some of our dried fruit is coated in vegetable oil or rice flour. We thought we’d use this blog to explain.
Organic and natural
Our organic dried fruit is dried naturally, by the sun, without the use of sulphur dioxide as a preservative or drying agent. Mostly, the fruit comes from the sun-drenched hills and fields of Turkey – with the notable exception of our organic currants, which are grown in the traditional currant-producing region of Vostizza in Greece.
We receive our dried fruit in boxes, from three wholesalers: Infinity Foods, Community Foods and Queenswood Natural Foods. We then pack it down, under our Soil Association licence, for customers looking for smaller pack sizes.
This isn’t always a simple task. A 12.5kg box of raisins, transported across several countries and stored in a very cool warehouse, will often have the contents stuck together in an almost unbreakable lump by the time it reaches us.
At Naturally Good Food we’re skilled in dealing with these ‘lumps’: we know just how to handle them so as to gently separate the fruit. And working hands-on with the fruit like this makes it clear why it needs to be coated. Without a coating of some kind, the natural sugars and juices in the fruit would mean that it simply couldn’t be separated at all, but would be stuck together in one solid mass.
What kinds of coating are used?
It’s for this reason that the producers lightly coat the fruit in either oil or flour before it’s packaged. Flour is the usual choice for cut (chopped) fruit. This type of fruit – being cut – is naturally more prone to leaking moisture than the whole fruit, which retains its harder, drier outer skin. Thus our chopped dates, chopped figs and chopped apricots are coated in rice flour, to keep the pieces separate and usable. These fruits are generally destined for use as an ingredient, usually in baking. The very thin coating of flour is unnoticeable once the fruit is mixed and baked with the other ingredients.
Other dried fruit is intended to be eaten ‘raw’, just as it is, and for this, our customers don’t want a floury coating. This kind of fruit is therefore coated in vegetable oil – usually sunflower oil. For some particularly sticky types of fruit, such as cranberries and blueberries, the oil coating will be more obvious than, say, for raisins and sultanas. The only way to keep the very sticky fruit from clumping together completely is to ‘cut’ it with a reasonable amount of oil.
Is the oil or flour organic?
If the product is certified organic, then any oil or flour used will also be organic.
Is the oil or flour gluten-free?
Rice flour is gluten-free, as is vegetable oil. You’ll be unlikely to find dried fruit officially labelled ‘gluten-free’, as it won’t have been tested for gluten. But it will not contain any gluten-containing ingredients.
Can I get dried fruit without a coating?
We are not able to source dried fruit without a coating. But we do believe that the coatings used on our organic fruit are the best solution. The alternatives are fairly weird and wonderful (a quick google search, for instance, brings up an application for a patent to coat dried fruit with microcrystalline cellulose, perhaps derived from wood pulp, along with a discussion of other methods of preventing fruit from sticking together, including injecting it with inulin or honey, coating it with sugar or syrup or covering it in an ‘edible humectant-containing gel’). Yummy. Or maybe not.
Agglomeration, clumping or blocking – call it what you will. We can’t work with solid lumps, but we can work with a tiny amount of organic flour or vegetable oil. It’s the only way we can get these amazing dried fruits out to our customers.
Click here to see all our dried fruits.apricots, blueberries, bulk dried fruit, chopped apricots, chopped dates, chopped figs, coated, cranberries, currants, dates, dried fruit, figs, gluten-free dried fruit, organic currants, organic dried fruit, prunes, raisins, rice flour, sultanas, vegetable oil
This post was written by Yzanne