Raisins are created by removing the majority of the fruits’ water content through sun drying, or through the use of dehydrators. Other popular “traditional” dried fruits include prunes, dates, apricots, figs, apples, pears and peaches. Many fruits are infused with a sweetener, often corn syrup, (prior to drying) such as, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, mango and strawberries. Dried fruit, like pineapple, papaya and kiwi most often sourced from canned fruit.
How are these dried fruits able to retain their fresheners and color?
The fruit’s acids contribute to flavor quality and act as anti-microbial agents that suppress mold and bacterial growth.
As for color retention, sulfur dioxide is added as an antioxidant. Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with a pungent, irritating smell, that is released naturally by volcanic activity. Prior to the development of chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur dioxide was used as a refrigerant in home refrigerators. It was first approved in the United States as a food additive as far back as the 1800s. Sulfur dioxide is used to prevent golden raisin, dried peaches, apples and apricots from darkening, losing their light color which can alter their flavor.
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires foods containing more than 10 parts per million of sulfites must list this information on the food label, because certain asthmatic individuals may be sensitive to this chemical compound. Dried raisins contain between 500 and 2,000 parts per million. Wine, a beverage thought to be high in sulfites contains between 20 and 350 parts per million.
Sulphur dioxide is one of the top two air pollutants in urban areas, a corrosive gas, a primary cause of respiration problems, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, blood toxication, developmetal toxication, gastro-intestinal and liver disease, neurological disturbances, irritable bowel syndrom, behavior disturbances, skin rashes, asthma, folic acid deficiency, as well as a nose and ear irritant.
Pesticides in Raisins
Did you know that grapes can have more than 50 pesticides? Conventional grapes are sprayed multiple times during different stages of growth. The thin skin does not offer much protection from these pesticides used as conventional vineyards. Raisins, not surprisingly, also have high pesticide residue tests. According to many studies, pesticides can cause many types of cancer in humans.
To be sure you are avoiding sulfites and pesticides in raisins, choose organic brands. Organic dried fruits won’t last as long but freezing fruit will extend its shelf life.