Nutrition Values Of Sun Drying Of Fruits And Vegetables
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To preserve vegetables and fruits in olden days, they were dried in the sun. With technology, one can preserve them by using dehydrators or oven as well. The main advantage of drying is it removes moisture from the food and preserves it longer since the micro-organisms present in them can not grow. Dried food occupies less storage space and adds required flavor to the food. One need not wait for the right season in order to savor the desired flavor in the food. It can stay in good condition longer and can be carried easily during travel.
The vegetables or fruits intended for drying should be ripe and fresh. If not they will lack the color and flavor. These should not be over ripe since they will become mushy or fibrous. The thumb rule is that imperfect food should not be dried.
Sun dried vegetables have many uses like direct consumption as chips, reconstitution for cooked side dish, additive in soup, casseroles, stuffing or stews and made in powdered from as well. And, sun dried fruits have a chewy texture and are ideal for snack. Pieces of dried fruits can be added in to breads, muffins, cakes and cookies. They can also be used in making sauce, cobblers or pies or added as topping to cooked cereal, gelatin salads, or ice creams when reconstituted.
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates and energy. They also provide us the bulk from their indigestible fibers. Typically, when sun drying fruits and vegetables, majority of the nutrients is preserved. In fact, due to the drying process, the nutrients get concentrated in the fruits and vegetables.
Blanching may cause a small proportion of Vitamin C to get lost due to leaching. However, this is not the case with sun drying and the Vitamin C content of the fruits and vegetables is retained.
The sun dried fruit and vegetable should be stored in air-tight containers for a max of six month to a year. Such foods should be consumed at the earliest in order to minimize loss of nutrient. One should consume more amount of dried food as compared to its fresh version for the same nutritional intake. Consumption of four dried halves of apricot is equivalent to consuming two fresh apricots.
The calories and fibers are concentrated in dried foods in smaller masses. If one does not re-hydrate the food and consumes more, the calorie and fiber intake will also be more. In order to offset higher calorie consumption, while enhancing fiber intake with dry foods, one should prefer fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
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