Dried fruits have been popular since ancient times. When King David was crowned, raisins were served at the royal feast. And in the 16th-Century French court of Francis I, women presented their admirers with baskets of dried prunes.
The first men to land on the moon ate dried peaches for dessert.
Fruits are dried to reduce their moisture content and to condense the sugar enough to prevent the formation of mold.
In ancient Rome, grapes were dried by dropping them in ashes to remove some of the natural moisture, then dried further in the sun.
Nowadays, most fruits are ripened on the tree or vine, then dried in trays exposed to the sun.
America began selling dried fruits on a large scale in the mid-19th Century and packing houses were soon opened.
Various lands have their favorite fruit mixtures. Cold dried-fruit soup is popular throughout Scandinavia. In Portugal, almond-stuffed dried figs are a big favorite. In Turkey, cooks use currants in preparing mussels. The English have long been fond of dried fruits in cakes and puddings.
Dried apricots, raisins and prunes are especially good in soups, as in the following recipe. DRIED FRUIT SOUP
8 cups cold water
1 cup dried apricots