How long does dried fruit last?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long does dried fruit last?” and will discuss the storage conditions of dried fruits.

How long does dried fruit last?

Dried fruit can last for 1 year if stored properly. The quality of preserved food degrades more rapidly in warm conditions, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, which estimates that properly kept dried fruit has a shelf life of four to twelve months.  Shelf life ranges from 4 months to 1 year. Because food quality is affected by heat, the storage temperature helps determine the length of storage; the higher the temperature, the shorter the storage time. When kept at a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, most dried fruit can keep for up to a year. It may survive up to six months at 80 degrees (1).

Every two to three weeks, check on the dry foods you’ve kept to make sure they’re still dry. Clear packaging, such as a canning jar, makes the presence of moisture on the container’s edges obvious. Get it used up as soon as it’s been wet. Discard anything that seems to be moldy.

What is dried fruit ?

Dried fruit is simple to produce, portable, and delicious. It’s a great choice for those who lead a hectic lifestyle. Most of us have a favorite dried fruit, from raisins and craisins to dried apples and banana chips. To take advantage of seasonal fruit prices at the grocery store or farmers’ market, drying your own is an excellent option. Is dehydrated fruit safe to eat for a long period, whether you purchase it or prepare your own?

If the fruit is properly preserved, drying may keep it fresh for a long period. Dehydrated fruit does not support the growth of bacteria, yeast, or mold because it lacks moisture. Dried fruit indeed has its perks, as well. 

Drying is the oldest and most popular method used in food preservation. It prevents the growth of microorganisms responsible for the spoilage of food and alleviates many moisture related deleterious reactions. In addition to enhancing the shelf-life of the product, drying also reduces bulk, minimizes packaging, storage and transportation cost. Keeping quality and hygroscopic properties of dried fruits and vegetables are influenced by their water activity. Common effects of improper storage conditions on food products are browning and development of off-flavor. This is caused by formation of insoluble compounds from the maillard reaction, lumpiness, loss of nutritive value, moisture gain, microbial growth etc. under normal as well as accelerated storage conditions (2).

There are just a few things lost from dehydrated fruit when it is dried, and those are water and nutrients. Plus, it’s light and there’s no mess to clean up while you’re munching on this one. It’s easy to reconstitute with water, juice, booze, or any other tasty beverage for a variety of dishes.

Requirements for storing

Insect damage or re-absorption of moisture from the air may lead to the deterioration of improperly kept dry goods. These issues may be avoided if proper storage is used.

Dried fruits have delayed spoilage due to their low water activity. Water activity remains an important concept in dried products, particularly for the analysis of product stability in relation to packaging and storage conditions. The water activity (aw) is defined as the vapor pressure in the food (p) divided by the vapor pressure of pure water (p0) at the same temperature. The packaging material used and the temperature of storage strongly influences the moisture recovery of the dried fruit and the increase in water activity. With the increase of water activity, microorganisms are able to grow (3).

Store dried fruit in airtight containers such as vacuum seal bags, freezer containers, or canning jars as soon as it has reached room temperature. They should be crammed into the smallest space possible without causing any damage. Cool, dark, dry conditions are ideal for keeping the sealed bottles.

How long does the packaged dry fruit last?

There is a printed expiry date on packages of dried fruit, such as raisins and prunes. Before this time, the product cannot be sold. If it is not opened, it will continue to function for a longer amount of time. Again, the colder the storage temperature, the better.

A year in the pantry without opening raisins, craisins, prunes, dried cherries, dried apricot and mangoes, and dried blueberries will keep for a long time. Banana chips, dates, and figs may all be stored in the pantry for up to three months after they’ve been purchased. Refrigeration enhances the shelf life of some products by up to two years. For as long as they’re frozen, they’ll be safe.

The shelf life of packaged dried fruits strongly depends on the packaging material used. In order to serve as packaging for dehydrated fruits and vegetables, the material must prove itself to be a good barrier against water vapor and, depending on the particular product, also against O2 and other volatiles. Plastic food packaging provides an effective barrier that ensures that food keeps its natural taste while protecting it from contamination. Innovative packaging techniques such as modified active packaging, active and intelligent packaging, the use of antimicrobials, etc. extend the shelf life of fruits to a significant amount of time. On the other hand, glass is also effective as a moisture barrier, when properly closed, is inert and impermeable, reusable and recyclable (4).

Drying out procedure

An electric dehydrator makes it easy to dry fruit at home for long-term preservation. To begin, you must wash and dry the fruit first. Remove any inedible outer layers. Make quarter- or half-inch slices of apples or other big fruits. Smaller fruits, such as berries, may either be cut in half or left whole, depending on their size. Drying time will be consistent if you make the pieces the same size.

To prevent the fruit from turning brown, mist it with lemon juice. Spread the fruit out on the dehydrator’s racks in single layers. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for time and temperature.

Microwave drying is also a possible method to be used in small scales and in combination with other methods, such as air drying. In the dehydration of sliced bananas, drying rates could be increased by a factor of 16 using microwave energy instead of hot air alone. For cranberries, microwave-vacuum drying improved the color quality and resulted in a softer product than the conventionally dried product (3).

Preparing dried fruit for long-term preservation

When a piece of fruit has a moisture level of 20% or less, it is considered dry. A leathery texture, like raisins or prunes, may be present depending on the kind of fruit.

These products are thought to be resistant to microbial spoilage because of their low water activity, acidic condition, and increased sugar content as a consequence of the drying process. However, dried fruits are susceptible products for mold contamination and growth, and consequent mycotoxin production. Numerous studies revealed high incidences or high levels of contamination of these products with mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic and carcinogenic and were found in dried fruits such as figs, apricots and raisins sold in the market (5).

It’s best to keep the dried fruit in a sealed container for a week or two before eating since the moisture will be distributed unevenly when it comes out of the dehydrator. Be sure to give the container a little shake regularly. Pieces with a lower moisture content will draw moisture from those with a higher moisture content throughout this period. Dehydrating fruit for long-term storage should be done only if there is no condensation on the container’s edges after two weeks of drying (1).

Keep an eye out for spoiled food

Dry fruit may become worse over a lengthy period, or if the seal is damaged and penetrated by moisture. It’s important to get familiar with the signs of damaged dried fruit to avoid consuming it. Mold and a bad smell are the most evident indications of deterioration. This might include browning, taste loss, or hardness over time. Consider throwing it out when in doubt.

To check out the expiry of different dried fruits, click here 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long does dried fruit last?” and discussed storage conditions of dried fruits.

References

  1. Andress, E.L and Harrison, J.A. So Easy to Preserve, 2014, 6, 989. Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia
  2. Dak, Manish, V. R. Sagar, and S. K. Jha. Shelf-life and kinetics of quality change of dried pomegranate arils in flexible packaging. Food Package Shelf Life, 2014, 2, 1-6.
  3. Miranda, Gonzalo, Angel Berna, and Antonio Mulet. Dried-Fruit storage: An analysis of package headspace atmosphere changes. Foods, 2019, 8, 56.
  4. Mahmood, Muhammad H., Muhammad Sultan, and Takahiko Miyazaki. Experimental evaluation of desiccant dehumidification and air-conditioning system for energy-efficient storage of dried fruits. Build Serv Eng Res Technol, 2020, 41, 454-465.
  5. Karaca, Hakan, Y. Sedat Velioglu, and Sebahattin Nas. Mycotoxins: contamination of dried fruits and degradation by ozone. Toxin Rev, 2010, 29, 51-59.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.