Decadent recipes for dried fruit
Do you feel like 'Christmas has begun' when the fragrance of spiced fruit issues from bubbling saucepans? We certainly do!
Not that long ago, a matter of a few decades, when planes weren't
used to bring tropical fare to supermarkets throughout the year, dried fruit
was a valuable source of vitamins and minerals during the cold season. This winter, let's avoid those so-called
'fresh' fruits that have been flown halfway round the world and welcome dried
tropical fruits instead - delicious, healthy, slow food packed with
For all these recipes, pick Fairtrade-certified dried fruit if it's available and you can afford the extra cost. You may want to investigate Turkish or other foreign food shops for loose dried fruit: it's usually much cheaper and lighter on packaging.
Dried fruit salad (delicious any time of the day!)
Mmm, serve this cold with plain or soy yoghurt for breakfast, or warm as a nourishing treat after a hearty dinner. For something special when guests come over, it's perfect spooned over a caramel pudding or plain cheesecake with a big dollop of whipped cream. Once cooked, your fruit salad will keep in the fridge for about a week.
600g mixture of your favourite dried fruits, from ready-to-eat packs
3 tbsp clear honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod or ¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 tbsp lemon juice
Put your chosen dried fruit pieces into a large saucepan with the honey, vanilla seeds or extract and 750ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until slightly syrupy - about ten minutes should do it. Take the saucepan off the hob and carefully stir in the tea bag. Leave to infuse for another ten minutes. Put the tea bag into your food recycling and tip the mixture into a glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Pour over the lemon juice and stir well.
Dried fruit chutney (great gift or save for the Christmas cheeseboard)
The smell of this cooking is intensely wonderful! Save this recipe for a dark and gloomy evening - it will cheer you up no end. Can be kept open in the fridge up to a week ahead of festivities, or preserved in sterilised, tightly sealed jars for up to a year.
1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds
200g dried apricots, roughly chopped
250ml apple cider vinegar
50g dried figs, roughly chopped
50g prunes, roughly chopped
50ml dark molasses
Salt and pepper
Heat a deep saucepan over a medium hob and pour in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is warmed through, add the onion/shallot, coriander, ginger and stir for about a minute until you start to smell the amazing fragrance. Put in the rest of your ingredients with about 400ml cold water and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, adding more water if too thick, until the fruit is soft and the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Let cool before storing or preserving.
Macerated dried fruit (soooo useful!)
This is easy! Simply combine your dried fruit with a complimentary liqueur in a jar and leave to soak at least overnight - preferably a week so the liqueur takes on the flavour of the fruit and vice versa.
The macerated fruit is useful in all kinds of rich winter recipes and keeps in the fridge for up to three months. Try these for a Christmassy treat:
· Mix with maple syrup and pour over Scotch pancakes
· Spoon over vanilla ice cream
· Mix into a basic sponge cake batter
· Add some of the infused liqueur into your mulled wine
· Use the liqueur to set light to your Christmas pudding
· Pour over ice for a stiffener for a stressed cook on Christmas Day!