Nuts and dried fruit: properties, methods, benefits

Nuts and dried fruit: properties, methods, benefits

There is a lot of information on nuts and dried fruit on the web, but many have gaps and others have quite a few inaccuracies. So we decided to have a chat in person with the managers of our Quality Department, Francesca Buccella and Francesca Nanni. Here we open up the doors to the world of wellness and go behind the scenes at  Nuturally to answer all your questions and queries!

What's the difference between nuts and dried fruit?

Nuts are characterised by the texture of the pericarp (fruit wall) that becomes extremely hard when mature. This is the shell that encloses the edible kernel. Dried fruit, by contrast, is characterized by a fleshy pericarp of which the pulpy part is consumed. A common feature of both types is that they have low water content, even if the nuts are already naturally so, while dried fruit becomes so following the drying treatments it is subjected to.

A list of nuts and dried fruit: what are the categories?

We will be very precise! Tree Nuts

Legumes

Dried fruit - some examples

Many of the fruits of the first two categories, in addition to being consumed as they are, are roasted dry or in oil and, in some cases, even lightly salted. Other products that are generally associated with the nuts sector as traditionally consumed in a similar way are seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) and cereals (corn) that are eaten as snacks, or some legumes (chickpeas, lupines).

What are the main benefits of nuts and dried fruit?

Both nuts and dried fruit are sources of fibre and essential minerals, which differ according to fruit. In general, nuts are lipid-rich, predominantly in unsaturated fatty acids, which contribute to maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. Many belonging to this category have high levels of Vitamin E, which is well-known for contributing to protecting cells from oxidative stress.

In the case of dried fruit it's more difficult to identify specific nutrients because it's a truly diversified category. However, generally speaking, it is a good reserve of readily available simple sugars. The drying process removes much of the water from the fruit, thus concentrating the nutrients into a much smaller volume. Dried fruit is then an excellent energy reserve for when our body intensifies its demands for energy. Sweet and invigorating, it makes for the perfect natural snack.

How are nuts processed?

Nuts are sold either in-shell or shelled, after light drying to remove any excess moisture and increase shelf life. The fruit drying process requires a much greater reduction in water content, which - aided by the concentration of soluble constituents such as sugar - prevents fermentation. For drying, solar heat or heat generated by hot air ovens can be used. Another technique involves osmotic dehydration, where fresh fruit is immersed in a sugar solution to induce extraction of water content from the product alongside the partial addition of sugar. It's also possible to fry, roast or salt the nuts to desired aroma and taste.

What quality-control methods does Nuturally use?

Nuturally is a brand of the Euro Company, an organization that has been working, packaging and marketing nuts and dried fruit for over twenty years. As a company operating in the food sector, it has taken upon itself the ethical and moral responsibility of providing the consumer with healthy and non-harmful products for health.

The company uses the HACCP methodology and the Codex Alimentarius and the experience of a multidisciplinary team of quality-control professionals to take practical steps towards compliance with legal regulations introduced to safeguard consumer health. Suppliers are carefully evaluated and qualified to guarantee the best raw materials.

The product is constantly checked , from arrival at the company to packaging and shipping, to avoid pests and contamination with other products, both allergenic and non-allergenic.

The company's internal laboratory scrutinizes each raw material when it comes into the plant to confirm it has appropriate organoleptic, chemical-physical and microbiological product characteristics as determined by the specific analysis plans. Only once the product passes these checks is it made available for subsequent steps of the production process.

The packaging staff is kept constantly updated and trained so that to ensure adequate attention is paid to product hygiene and health.

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