Right, the category title is "Fresh Produce" but "dried" fruits and vegetables were "fresh" at some point. In the middle of winter they are fun to experiment with. Sun-dried tomatoes for example offer a whole new taste to pasta dishes over vine-ripened tomatoes.
Dried fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat. However, dried foods are denser in calories than their fresh produce counterparts. The recommended serving size for dried fruits and vegetables is half that of fresh.
Most supermarkets generally offer a good selection of the most popular dried fruits. A larger selection of items, especially dried vegetables, are often found at natural food stores. Most dried fruit is sold pre-packaged and may be found in either the fresh produce or canned food departments.
Dried fruits and vegetables are also sometimes available in the bulk foods section. Don't purchase any dried food with mold or an abnormal smell.
There are several locations on the web that offer good selections and great pricing. One of my favorites is the Nutty Guys. As a supplier of dried fruit, vegetables and nuts to some of the largest grocery chains they offer a huge selection of fresh products and at superb prices. They will ship anywhere and no order is too small.
Whether dried at home or purchased, dried fruits and vegetables should be kept in an airtight container. Refrigeration is not necessary, but some people prefer the taste of cold dried food. Dried fruit may be frozen, but this sometimes affects the texture and taste of the food.
Shelf life varies from product to product, but most items will keep, if stored properly, for a minimum of one month. Some items, such as raisins, have a significantly longer shelf life of approximately a year or more.
Generally, once a fruit or vegetable is dried, there is no additional preparation before using. Many recipes require the fruit or vegetable be sliced or diced, which is often easier when the item has been refrigerated overnight. Dried fruit and vegetables are commonly used in bread, desserts, granola, or as a topping.
If you aren't incorporating dried fruits and vegetables in your meals, give them a try.