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Dried Fruits: Creative Uses and Recipes

Updated on September 19, 2011

We are so accustomed in this country to beautiful dried fruits that we tend to take it for granted and frequently overlook how its imaginative and creative uses can enhance our cooking. Dried fruits may be added to many dishes, providing us with an excellent opportunity to gain the extra nutrients which fruit brings to our daily fare.

As you will see when looking through the ideas and recipes in this collection, the concentrated flavor and sweetness of dried fruits can be incorporated in a variety of dishes - everything from salads to hot desserts. And it is still the best way to combine luxury with virtue for breakfast!

Granola with Dried Fruit.
Granola with Dried Fruit.

Granola with Dried Fruits

  • 1 ounce (30 g) butter
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup wholegrain rolled oats
  • 1 cup rolled barley flakes
  • 1 cup rice and triticale flakes
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

To Serve:

  • ½ cup chopped dried apricot
  • ½ cup chopped dried peach
  • ½ cup chopped dried apple
  • ½ cup sultanas
  • Yogurt, Dried Fruit Compote (see recipe below), or milk
  1. Place butter and honey in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter melts and honey thins to a pouring consistency.
  2. Combine oats, flakes, nuts and cinnamon in a large bowl, pour butter mixture over and stir to coat well. Spread onto a baking-paper-lined baking tray and bake at 300° F (150° C) for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. The mixture will be slightly sticky, but will become crisp as it cools. Store granola in a cool, dark place in an airtight container and use within 2 months.
  3. To serve, combine granola with dried fruit and serve with yogurt, Dried Fruit Compote, or milk. Serves 10-14.

This is a basic recipe which can be used for many dried fruit combinations. It can be flavored with alcohol, to accompany a creamy dessert such as Rice Pudding with Toffee Crust (see recipe below), or orange-blossom water to accompany vanilla ice cream, or a drop of vanilla extract to serve with mascarpone of yogurt. Or simply leave plain to serve for breakfast.

Dried Fruit Compote

  • 1 cup dried fruit of your choice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 lime and 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime and 2 oranges

Combine dried fruit, cinnamon stick and zest in a bowl. Bring lime and orange juice to a simmer, pour juice over fruit mixture, cover and stand overnight. Add flavoring, as desired, to taste. Serves 4.

Suggested dried fruit combinations with flavor variations:

  • Pear and apple with Calvados.
  • Peach and apricot with orange-blossom water.
  • Apple, apricot and prune with vanilla extract.
  • Fig, apricot and hazelnuts with Armagnac.
  • Cranberry and cherry with Cointreau.
  • Tropical fruits, such as mango, pawpaw and papaya with Vodka.

Brilliant to serve with cold meats, cheese, grilled sausages, pork or lamb.

Dried Fruit Chutney

  • ½ cup sultanas
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricot
  • ½ cup finely chopped dried peach
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried pear
  • 3 dried dates, seeded and chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¾ inch (2 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 7 fl oz (200 ml) malt vinegar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Combine dried fruit in a bowl, cover with water, cover and stand overnight.
  2. Drain fruit, transfer to a saucepan, add remaining ingredients and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45-50 minutes until mixture thickens and liquid evaporates. Remove bay leaf and season to taste.
  3. Spoon chutney into hot sterilized jars and seal while hot. When cool, store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1½ cups.

This bread is wonderful with cheese.

Rosemary Flatbread with Raisins and Dried Apple

  • 2 sachets dried yeast
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup dried apple pieces
  • ¼ cup raisins or seeded muscatels
  • Olive oil, extra, for brushing
  1. Combine yeast, powdered milk and 1 cup of flour in a large bowl and whisk in 1 cup lukewarm water until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Process remaining flour, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ tablespoon of rosemary leaves in a food processor until well combined.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, combine yeast mixture and olive oil, then gradually stir in flour mixture to form a soft sticky dough (you may not need all the flour). Turn dough out on a floured surface, sprinkle fruit over and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding more flour to surface if required, to form a smooth elastic dough and to distribute the fruit.
  4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with a plastic bag and rest in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled in size. Divide dough into 4 portions and press each into a ½ inch (1.5 cm)-thick oblong. Place on 2 oiled baking trays allowing 2 inches (5 cm) between pieces of dough. Cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap and stand a further 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  5. Brush dough with extra olive oil and sprinkle remaining rosemary leaves over. Bake at 400° F (200° C) for 15 minutes until golden brown and base is crisp and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 flat-breads.

Carrot Salad with Lime-plumped Raisins

  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil
  • Grated rind of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • Radicchio leaves (optional), to serve
  1. Place raisins in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and stand for 5 minutes. Drain raisins and reserve liquid. Combine raisins and lime juice and stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat vegetable oil and mustard seeds in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat, drain seeds on absorbent paper and cool.
  3. Drain raisins and reserve lime juice. Combine 1 tablespoon reserved raisin liquid, reserved lime juice, almond oil, grated rind and balsamic vinegar in a screw-top jar, shake well and season to taste. Combine raisins, mustard seeds, carrot and dressing, toss well, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Serve salad in radicchio-leaf cups, if desired. Serves 6-8.

Indian-Style Lamb with Dried Figs.
Indian-Style Lamb with Dried Figs.

Indian-Style Lamb with Dried Figs

  • 12 lamb shanks, trimmed
  • 1 ¾ cups dried figs, halved
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup coriander leaves
  • Dried Fruit Chutney, rice, potato or naan and vegetables, to serve


  • 3 ¼ cups Greek-style yogurt
  • 9 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ¼ inch (3 cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 10 coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 whole cloves
  1. For marinade, combine yogurt, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne and paprika and mix well.
  2. Dry-roast cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer spices to a spice or coffee grinder, add cinnamon stick, peppercorns, nutmeg and cloves to a fine powder (or pound in a mortar and pestle). Add spices to yogurt mixture and mix well.
  3. With the point of a sharp knife, make 6 deep cuts in each lamb shank. Place shanks in a large shallow dish and coat well with yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Remove lamb from refrigerator, bring to room temperature and place in a large flameproof casserole. Spoon marinade over, cover base of casserole with water and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid or foil and bake at 350° F (180° C) for 50 minutes, basting occasionally and adding extra water if pan is dry.
    Stir in figs and almonds, cover and bake a further 50 minutes, continuing to baste. Remove from oven, place shanks on a wire rack over a baking dish and coat with some of the sauce. Return to oven for 10 minutes until sauce forms a golden crust on lamb.
  5. To serve, spoon remaining sauce onto warm serving plates, top with lamb, spoon figs around and scatter with coriander leaves. Serve with Dried Fruit Chutney, rice, potatoes or naan and vegetables, if desired. Serves 6.

Rice Pudding with Toffee Crust

  • 2 pints (1 litre) milk
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • Lemon peel from half a lemon, pith removed with a sharp knife
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup thick cream
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricot
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup caster sugar, extra, for toffee crust
  1. Combine milk, sugar, rice, lemon peel and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until liquid has been absorbed, rice is cooked through and mixture is thick and creamy. Remove and discard lemon peel and cinnamon stick.
  2. Combine egg yolks and cream and, using a wooden spoon, stir into rice for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Stir in Amaretto and dried fruit and mix well.
  3. Spoon mixture into six individual ¾-cup-capacity moulds or a 2 pint (1 litre) capacity serving dish and smooth surface evenly. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  4. Sprinkle surface of puddings with a thin layer of sugar, place under a very hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes until sugar caramelises and forms a crisp crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Fresh Curd Cheese, Chocolate and Muscatel Tarts

  • 3 ½ ounces (100 g) soft unsalted butter, chopped
  • ¼ cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • Icing sugar and cocoa, to serve


  • 3 eggs
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) pouring cream
  • 2/3 cup fresh ricotta
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ½ cup seeded muscatels or raisins soaked in 2 tablespoons muscant overnight
  • 2 ounces (60 g) semi-sweet couverture chocolate, chopped
  1. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in egg. Fold in flour, then gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface to form a smooth ball. Flatten dough slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours.
  2. Roll dough out thinly on a lightly floured surface, line six 4 inch (10 cm) individual flan tins with removable bases and place on a baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. For the filling, combine eggs, cream, ricotta, sugar and zest in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Place drained muscatels and chocolate evenly in pastry cases, pour egg mixture over and bake at 350° F (180° C) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300° F (150° C) and bake a further 15 minutes, or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Serve tarts at room temperature dusted with icing sugar and cocoa. Serves 6.


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    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 9 years ago

      I always eat the dried fruit before they have a chance to be made into anything! :P However I love the sound of the carrot salad - enough to try it out soon!

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      thnaks for sharing nice recipes