Fresh is not always best. Here’s why some foods are better bought dried.
Fresh mangos, kiwi fruits, and grapes may not travel well, but you can easily pack their dried versions for a midday snack, and not have to worry about them turning into a sticky mush. There are also plenty of healthy veggie snacks.
VITAMIN AND MINERAL CONTENT
A cup of dried food may contain more calories and sugar than a cup of fresh produce. However, depending on the drying method, the dehydration process may concentrate minerals and vitamins.
While foods that are gently dried tend to lose volatile vitamins A and C content, even when treated with lemon juice or sulphur dioxide to preserve colour and nutrients, a Valencian study found that others that were freeze-dried seemed to retain their healthy compounds and antioxidant properties better.
For instance, according to the US Department of Agriculture, a cup of fresh strawberries has 84.7mg of vitamin C. A cup of freeze-dried strawberries has 216mg of vitamin C and higher levels of iron.
Fibre keeps you feeling full and helps lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other health issues, but most of us don’t get enough of it. Dried fruits are a good source of ﬁbre. Dried apricots, for instance, give you 7.3g of ﬁbre per 100g; fresh ones offer 2g of ﬁbre per 100g.
SHELF LIFE AND CONVENIENCE
Fresh herbs live a few days in your fridge. Dried ones have a much longer shelf life in your pantry and don’t take up valuable fridge space. Herbs that are better dried than fresh include bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. In a pinch, even dried chilli, mushrooms, and candied ginger can be great substitutes for their fresh versions.
If you’ve ever felt the thrill of having all the ingredients you need for a recipe in the kitchen, you’ll know how handy stocking dried fruits and herbs can be.
Sure, a recipe may have called for fresh ingredients, but sometimes, certain ones, like cherries, are a little harder to track down off-season, and even herbs like fresh sage and dill aren’t always stocked in supermarkets.
The resulting dish may not taste exactly the same, but it’s hard to beat instant gratiﬁcation!