Dried Fruit and Nuts

dried-fruit-peanuts-thumbConsiderable variety in both flavour, appearance and texture can be achieved in biscuits by using dried fruits and nuts. As biscuits are mostly small and thin products, the fruit and nuts have to be either small themselves or cut into small pieces.

Generally speaking, nuts do not have enough flavour to make a distinctive contribution to the acceptability of a biscuit unless they are used at high levels. As both nuts and dried fruits are rather expensive ingredients it is normal to use them in such a way that they are readily obvious to the consumer as, for example, by arranging that at least some of the nut pieces are applied to the surface of the dough piece as decoration.

The user of dried fruits and nuts must be concerned with:

1. the flavour of the product

2. the size and appearance

3. the cleanliness in terms of dust, dirt, stones and other adventitious matter

4. the level of infestation or deterioration which has developed after harvesting and in storage

The countries and areas of origin of dried fruits and nuts, and the fact that they are produced very often by unsophisticated people, may lead to many problems with quality. Insufficient care may be taken to protect the materials from dirt and dust, and the very nature of the product and climate mean that insect infestation is very prevalent. However, great advances have been made to improve the hygiene associated with drying and storage of dried fruit. It is important to realise that in order to change the practices of some of these simple farmers they must be told, shown and told again and again, for in most cases they have no idea of the stringent requirements for food in the factories and countries where their produce is sold.

There is growing concern about anaphylactic shock caused in susceptible people by nuts. The use of nuts in a product should always be declared on the packaging and if nuts are used in a biscuit factory the fact that contamination into other products may occur should be considered carefully.