There are five main types of fruit used in baking.
- Fresh -- apple, strawberries, pears, bananas, grapes, kiwi, raspberries and blackberries etc.
- Tinned -- most fruits that are available fresh are also available tinned.
- Dried -- currants, sultanas, rasins, dates, figs.
- Sugar preserved -- cherries, pineapple, orange and lemon peel.
- Frozen - A full range of fruit is now available.
Fruit is used in baking for a number of reasons .
- Flavour, colour, texture, moisture, visual appeal.
- Variety, eating qualities , keeping qualities, nutritional value.
The principal fruit associated with baking is dried fruit, Currants, Sultanas, Raisins and Candid peels.
Currants are a dried form of black seedless grapes and the name currant is derived from the word CORINTH which is a town in Greece where the grapes were originally grown.
Currants are now grown in many parts of the world. Greece, South Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands. There are many varieties and grades of currants. Various types of currant are suitable for various types of confectionery.
Average composition. Sugar 63%
Drying of Grapes for Currants.
There are three main ways in which this is carried out. (1) Sun Drying (2) Shade Drying. (3) Mechanical.
Traditionally the grapes were laid out on the vine and allowed to dry in the open air. This process would take approx. 12 days , however with more modern day approach and more awareness of food hygiene this process has given way to the more modern way of using mechanical drying aids and the use of microwaves to dry out the grape.
Shade drying was another way in which the gapes were processed. This method consists of hanging the grapes in large wooden huts or sheds, the huts being exposed to the sun but the grapes hanging in the shade, this is allowed to continue until the grapes are dried. This process takes a lot longer than the sun drying but generally produces better fruit as less of the grapes are damaged during the drying process.
Judging a Currant for Quality.
A currant of good quality should be blue black in colour, it should have a soft skin and should be fat and plump and fleshy. Shrivelled, red grapes or currants are usually acid or sour in taste and rather hard.
There is a wide range of choice for the consumer, it is important to realise that the quality of your finished product can be greatly affected by the standard of the ingredients. If you use a supermarkets value range it will most probably be of a low quality but will obviously be cheaper. The choice and decision is up to the individual but it is important to understand that there is more to buying currants than just the price.
Sultanas are obtained from a white seedless grape usually grown in Greece, Crete, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, Spain, California. Sultanas are often prepared in a similar way to that of the currant but before drying are chemically treated to kill any yeast spores which may be present and improve the golden colour of the fruit and softens the skin.
Judging for Quality
The colour should be golden, light rather than dark, fleshy and plump, soft skin and regular in size and not to small. As with currants it is important to be aware of the choices available to the baker and the effect it has on the quality of the finished product.
They are prepared from large muscatel grapes which contain quite large seeds. Traditionally branches of the vine are bound to stop the sap and the grapes are allowed to dry on the vine in the sun for about two weeks , this helps to keep in the raisins moisture, sweetness and food value, when dried the stones are removed. Sometimes classified as dark sultanas and used in a similar way.