4 Ways to Use Dried Fruit (That Aren't Trail Mix)

Dried fruit is almost synonymous with trail mix in many people's eyes, and for good reason. These little bits of chewy and delicious sweetness are the perfect complement to the salty crunch of nuts and seeds. Their portability for a camping trip or long hike and long shelf life makes them the ideal trail mix additive, but there are plenty of things you can do with dried fruit even when you aren't planning to hit the trail anytime soon.

1. Salads That Make the Main Course Jealous

Dried fruits are an excellent addition to salads, especially salad recipes that rely on some savoury elements like goat cheese, feta, or tangy vinaigrette. These ingredients are delicious, but without something to balance them out, they can be a little overwhelming and create a one-note experience. A handful of dried cranberries or dried cherries can add that perfect hint of sweetness to make each bite perfect. Give it a try in one of these great recipes.

  • Frisée and Apple Salad with Dried Cherries- This recipe combines the bitter taste of apple cider vinegar with the sweetness of both fresh apples and dried cherries. The addition of chopped walnuts adds a satisfying crunch (and a healthy dose of protein). 
  • Honey Dijon Apple Bacon Cranberry Salad- The combo of bacon, honey Dijon, apples, and dried cranberries might sound unexpected, but the flavours mix together to create a hearty meal that can stand on its own or be served as a side. 
  • Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots- This vegetarian option is definitely worthy of main course status. With the addition of quinoa, it will fill you up, and the tang of lemon juice and feta mixed with the sweetness of apricots will make a lasting impression. 

2. Fill Your House with Great Aromas

Dried fruits aren't just for eating. They can also make an excellent base for a fragrant potpourri that will fill your home with wonderful scents without the price (and sometimes unsavoury additives) of candles or sprays. Some recipes mix citrus fruits like dried lemons and oranges with nutmeg and cloves. Others combine cranberries, oranges, vanilla, and ginger. As an added bonus, these mixes look as good as they smell, and the beautiful colours of the fruit can make for an amazing centrepiece. They are also easily put into jars or bags to create a beautiful and thoughtful handmade gift.

3. Start Jamming

Did you know you can make jams from dried fruits? You do now! Think of all the possibilities: apricot jam, sour cherry jam, fig jam. You can also get creative and start mixing flavours together to create your own unique jam. This example uses dried apples, peaches, figs, a lemon, and cinnamon sticks. Feel free to experiment, and once you find the perfect blend, you've got a holiday gift (and a breakfast spread) that no one else can replicate!

4. Make a Compote to Top Them All

Dried fruits are great for making compotes, and the recipe couldn't be easier. Simply simmer the fruit with water, sugar, and cinnamon. When the fruit softens and the compote thickens, you're ready to eat! Here's one blend, but this, too, can be adapted to your individual tastes or whatever you have on hand. Once you're finished, you'll have a topping for waffles or ice cream or an amazing filling for tarts and turnovers. You might even find yourself eating it by the spoonful. We won't tell!

While dried fruits are an excellent trail mix addition, that doesn't begin to touch upon their full versatility. Since they last a long time, keeping dried fruits in your cupboard is a great way to make sure that you have the ingredients you need for some delicious recipes. It's time to get cooking!