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Struggling to Use Up Dried Fruits? 5 Creative Ways to Use Dried Fruits in Cooking and Baking

Struggling to Use Up Dried Fruits? 5 Creative Ways to Use Dried Fruits in Cooking and Baking

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I often get overzealous when making dried fruits. What starts with half a pound of apricots can quickly turn into a jar-filled pantry of dried mangoes, apples, dates, and cranberries. As much as I love their texture and taste, it often takes me weeks, if not months, to clear out.

If you’re like me and don’t know what to do with your excess stock of dried fruits, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ve listed some of the best ways to use dried fruits in cooking and baking.

1 – Add to Breakfast Dishes

For a quick and delicious breakfast boost, top your oatmeal with plump raisins or sprinkle tart cranberries on your morning porridge. These dried fruits add a burst of sweetness and natural energy to fuel your day.

You can also add dried fruits as toppings to pancakes or waffles. The chewy sweetness of dried fruits plays nicely against fluffy pancakes or crispy waffles.

For French toast, try making a quick compote by simmering chopped dried fruits with a splash of water or orange juice. Spoon the warm compote over French toast and enjoy. If you’ve got leftovers, mix it with yogurt or ice cream.

2 – Mix in Salads

Looking for ways to add a touch of sweetness to your salads? Dried fruits are the way to go!

Dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, and apricots pair surprisingly well with greens like arugula, spinach, and mixed lettuce.

The chewy sweetness of dried fruits contrasts nicely with the crisp greens, creating a more flavorful and enjoyable mouthfeel.

Dried fruits also work beautifully with creamy cheeses like feta or goat cheese.

Add some greens, olives, nuts, and a dash of balsamic vinaigrette dressing to the cheese and you’ve made yourself a Mediterranean-inspired salad that complements grilled chicken and fish.

3 – Turn Into Fruit Powders

It may not seem like it, but turning dried fruit into fruit powders is much easier than you think.

Simply grind dried fruits in a blender or food processor until they turn into a fine powder, then package them in small bags or containers.

You can use a single type of dried fruit or mix different varieties to create a unique flavor profile. Just make sure the fruits are completely dehydrated before grinding them into powder.

What I’d like to do is spread dried fruits out on a baking sheet and put them in a preheated oven (set to the lowest temperature) for 15 to 30 minutes to remove residual moisture. Let them cool completely before grinding.

There are dozens of ways to use dried fruit powder. Here are some ideas:

  • Add to morning smoothies
  • Mix in buttercream or cream cheese frosting
  • Dust on pastries for decoration and flavor
  • Blend into sauces and marinades
  • Add to cakes, muffins, and sweet bread
  • Sprinkle over salads or roasted vegetables
  • Infuse into cold beverages
  • Add to frozen yogurt, sorbets, or ice cream

4 – Create Homemade Trail Mix

Instead of buying pre-packaged trail mix from the store, make your own with ingredients you likely already have at home.

Look for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and other snacks you have on hand.

Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are great options for protein and healthy fats, while pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds add a nice crunch and some extra minerals.

As for dried fruit, anything will do. You can use raisins, dates, cherries, apricots, or cranberries.

Chop them up into small, bite-sized pieces and toss in extras like pretzels, chocolate chips, or popcorn for an indulgent variety.

Mix your ingredients in a large bowl and transfer your homemade trail mix to airtight containers or portion-sized bags.

5 – Turn Dried Fruit Into Snack Bars

Roughly chop a combination of dried fruits with seeds, nuts, oats, and sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or sweetened dark chocolate.

Get creative with the textures and flavors. If you want a chewy bar, add more dates or figs. If you want it crunchy, add hemp seeds, chia seeds, or a generous scoop of crunchy nut butter.

Press the mixture into a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake at low temperature (around 300°F or 150°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the edges start to brown.

Let the bars cool completely before cutting them into squares.

Snack bars are not only healthy but also convenient. You can stash them in your gym bag, pack them in lunchboxes, or keep them in your desk drawer for a quick energy boost during busy days at work.

Plus, you’ll save money in the long run and reduce packaging waste by using reusable containers instead of single-use wrappers.

Final Thoughts

There are dozens of creative ways to use dried fruit in cooking and baking.

You can add them to breakfast dishes, turn them into protein-filled snack bars, mix them in salads, and many others.

Dried fruits have a much longer shelf life compared to fresh fruits. You can add them to almost any sweet dish and a handful of savory dishes, making them a convenient pantry staple.

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