Traditional recipes

Hot Cocktail Ingredient: Dried Fruit

Hot Cocktail Ingredient: Dried Fruit

The dead of winter calls for some creative ingredients in cocktails

How to use dried fruit in cocktails.

February is a tough month to be a cocktail lover. The last of the winter citrus is quickly disappearing from store shelves, and it’s a while until the new spring crop. You can certainly find fruits grown around the world, but they’re just not the same as ripe local produce.

While you could stick to all-alcohol drinks — like Manhattans, Negronis, and Martinis — we have another idea: dried fruit.

You can now buy a range of dehydrated fruits, which you can use to infuse an array of spirits, from vodka to bourbon. (The process is incredibly easy and your concoction only needs to rest for about a day.) But before you start experimenting, we suggest you try these two recipes from top bartender and advisory board member Aisha Sharpe.

Her delicious Mango Brava Daiquiri is a blast of sunshine and calls for flavoring Caña Brava Rum (co-created by advisory board members Simon Ford and Dushan Zaric) with dried mango slices. It’s so good, you may want to make it year-round.

We also recommend you fix her Beefeater Gin-based Peach Collins that includes a simple syrup flavored with, you guessed it, dried peaches. After you master these tipples, you can spend the rest of the winter working on your own formulas. Cheers!

Click here for the Mango Brava Daiquiri recipe.

This story was originally publised at The Hot List: Dried Fruit. For more stories ilke this, subscribe to for the best in all things cocktails and spirits.

The Great Depression Era Recipes

Erin Huffstetler is a writer with experience writing about easy ways to save money at home.

The Great Depression in the 1930s was a time of hardship, but it was also a time of creativity. Faced with limited funds and government-imposed food rationing, the Depression-era cook learned to work magic in the kitchen. Homemakers became proficient in making cakes without butter and eggs, and pie crusts from crackers. They made do with what was in the cupboard and used what groceries they could buy in clever ways.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruits are those from which most of the water content is removed. Raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots, peaches, apples and pears are conventional dry fruits that are either sun-dried, dried in heated wind tunnels, drums dried or freeze dried.

They are high in nutritive value and have a longer shelf life. Cashew nuts, Pistachio, walnut, almonds and dates come under naturally dry fruits. Fruits like strawberries, cranberries, cherries, blueberries and mango are also dried, but only after infusing them with a sweetener.

Dry fruits are mostly consumed directly or by using them in sauces, puddings, soups or garnishes. There are many recipes that suggest the use of dry fruits to enhance flavor. In India, a dry fruit box is exchanged during festivals.

Being a collage of different varieties, every fruit helps in providing the necessary nutrient value. Dried fruits lose most of their Vitamins during the drying process. They also help in strengthening the immune system.

Crock-Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal Warm and satisfying this oatmeal really sticks to your ribs and starts the say off on the right foot. You can really be creative and change the flavors up by adding in your favorite mix ins and toppings. Dried fruits, nuts, spices the possibilities are endless. This recipe makes a good…

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Reader Interactions

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Thank you for such an extensive recap on these ingredients. As a 2nd generation Chinese-American, this website has been such a great asset and tool that I refer to when cooking Chinese food. Thanks for all the work you guys put in to make Chinese food accessible to all!

/>Bill says

Hi Iris, thanks for your kind comment – we are doing our best to help everyone cook delicious home-cooked Chinese meals. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for what you ahve done for what I call “heritage cooking.” As I get older, I long for the dishes of my childhood in San Francisco but even Amazon doesn’t have the things I want here in Montana. Both of my children were lucky enough to live and work in CA for awhile. They love your website and we have used it again and again to enjoy the food that my grandparents and parents cooked for us. Thank you, thank you (duo jie, duo jie)!

/>Bill says

Hi Pamela, you’re welcome and “hmm say hok hei la!”

Is wakame what makes seaweed salad?

/>Bill says

Hi Janice, I believe so, though the wakame we have bought seems more of a deep green rather than the bright green seaweed you see in Japanese restaurants.

I accidentally bought the dried mini shrimp xia pi instead of the normal dried shrimp. Can I still use it for Pad Thai? Thanks

/>Bill says

Hi Anthony, yes, they will still provide you with the flavor you need, even though they will pretty much disintegrate into the dish.

Thanks for the info! I actually wanted to know more about using white almonds in soup but it doesn’t seem like it’s used in your recipes. Lol. A bit of background: Cantonese New Yorker :D

/>Bill says

Hi Tiffany, I wasn’t paying enough attention when my parents made soup when I was a kid, but I do remember the white almonds were used in some soups. I also just don’t recall many recipes that used them

Thank you so much for your ingredient lists as well as the photos, recipes etc. Very helpful when I go shopping in a nearby Asian supermarket as it is often difficult finding knowledgeable staff to help locate items. Appreciate all the work you have done on this blog.

/>Bill says

Hi Linda, thanks for sharing your comment and appreciation!

I opened a packet of zha-cai to make your godmother sauce noodles (Lao Gan Ma) which were amazing. How long will the open packet keep in the fridge? Thank you!

/>Bill says

Hi Sara, fold the flap over the zha cai packet a couple of times and put a rubber band around to seal them tightly or put them into a sealed food container. As long as you used clean utensils to take them out of the packaging, they should last a few weeks.

Thank you! This is very helpful as I am already planning to make the recipe again tomorrow! YUM!

Hello- I am planning to make Mu Shu Chicken on a weeknight. I am wondering if I can soak my mushrooms and Lilly flowers on the weekend and stick them in the fridge for use during the week. Thank You (:

/>Bill says

Hi Marcy, yes, that is perfectly fine to soak the dried mushrooms and lily flowers and keep them in the fridge until you have to use them. Store them in sealed food containers and they will keep longer -)

Truly a wonderful blog site! I love the humor. I rarely read blogs that come with recipes but yours is the exception.
We have a well-stocked store, “Pacific Rim”, here in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Now I have pictures to go along with the products I’m trying to find. Thank you so very much! The Pacific Rim staff will appreciate it as well.

/>Bill says

Hi Emerson, happy to hear you have a good source for Chinese ingredients locally. It’s really the best source for materials. Keep up the great cooking!

You wanted to know if anyone saw fresh wood ears. I have seen them in my market, Hong Kong Market in Columbia, MO in the fresh foods section! Haven’t purchased them, though…

/>Bill says

Hi Erin, since writing that comment, I have begin to regularly see fresh wood ears!

How to make ponche

Making ponche is one of the easiest things you’ll make this holiday season. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Place water, quartered guavas, diced red apples, diced pears, orange slices, piloncillo or brown sugar, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried hibiscus flowers and tamarind pod in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Mix together and make sure the piloncillo/brown sugar has completely dissolved. Serve hot in mugs with a splash of rum or brandy if desired. Make sure each cup has some fruit it in – it’s the best part!

Freeze Dried Vs. Dried Fruit:

Before we get too deep into how to bake with freeze dried fruit, let’s get into the differences between freeze dried and dried.

These are not created equal. Dried fruit is chewy (like gummy candy) and usually has added sugar, which is unnecessary with baking when you’re already adding in sugar. For this reason, dried fruit isn’t ideal for baking, unless you plan on using it as a mix-in only, like in these Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Cupcakes.

Freeze dried fruit on the other hand, is minimally processed with the only ingredient being fruit. While still a bit chewy, it can easily be ground into a fine powder, which makes it perfect for adding to recipes.

How to Prep Freeze Dried Fruit for Baking:

Freeze dried fruit is the perfect way to add a punch of fruit flavor to desserts without compromising their texture or structural integrity that can sometimes happen when using fresh fruit, purees, or jams. The best way to do this (and how I mainly use freeze dried fruit) is to use it in powder form. Here’s how it’s done:

  • In a food processor or high speed blender (I use a magic bullet) grind up your freeze dried fruit until it’s finely ground
  • From here, measure out how much the recipe calls for. Any recipe here on My Baking Bliss with ground freeze dried fruit uses the powder for the amount called for unless stated otherwise. So 1/4 cup of freeze dried strawberries would mean 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberry powder
  • Before added to something pipeable, like a frosting or pastry cream, I like to put it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any large bits that could get stuck in a pastry bag when piping

You can also use freeze dried fruit as a mix-ins in recipes. This is perfect for when that particular fruit is out of season. This is done in these Lemon Blueberry Sugar Cookies, so you can bake these up anytime, even in the dead of winter!

Where to Buy Freeze Dried Fruit:

  • Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s is my go to when buying freeze dried fruit. They have a wide variety of options all at an affordable price
  • Target: If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, Target is another great option. Their Simply Balanced and Good & Gather brands offers many different kinds of fruit, most under $3 or $4. You can usually find them in the candy and nuts isle, near the raisins.
  • Amazon: You can also find freeze dried fruit on Amazon in tons of flavors. Just note that most options on Amazon are in bulk or more expensive than Trader Joe’s or Amazon

What Kinds of Freeze Dried Fruit Are Recommended for Baking?

  • Freeze dried fruit comes in a variety of different kinds. The majority of my recipes featuring freeze dried fruit use berries. Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are common options.
  • Other types of fruit that I’ve used before include mangoes, bananas, and apples. For the biggest variety, Trader Joes has everything from berries to mangoes. I’ve even seen pineapples and oranges!

Recipes Using Freeze Dried Fruit:

There’s so many options here on the blog for baking with freeze dried fruit. Check them out below!

  • Lemon Blueberry Sugar Cookies
  • Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Strawberry Pistachio Cut Out Cookies
  • PB & Jelly Fudge
  • Chocolate Raspberry Eclairs
  • Caramel Apple Cider Fudge
  • Chocolate Strawberry Whoopie Pies
  • Strawberry Mango Cupcakes
  • Brown Butter Caramel Apple Rice Krispie Treats
  • Strawberry Lemon Cake Donuts
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. See the full disclosure policy for details

What Are Dried Lily Buds?

Called huang hua in Chinese, which translates to "yellow flower," lily buds are typically yellow-gold in color. They are picked before they open and are about 3 to 5 inches long. When they are dried, however, they take on a light brown hue and are generally 2 to 3 inches long with the texture and shape of a crinkled straw. More often than not, dried lily buds are used in cooking for their unique aroma, which is somewhat fruity and flowery. They have to be rehydrated before being added to recipes and generally have a chewy but slightly crunchy texture. Dried lily buds are very inexpensive.

. That’s Great With Sweets

Chili powder is especially handy to keep around for baking, since it won’t throw off your liquid and acid proportions the way chili paste will. I love adding ground ancho chilies to my standard brownie recipe, along with fragrant cinnamon. When I bake with cocoa powder, I reach for a rare but delicious Peruvian pepper called aji panca, which adds a buoyant blueberry note to icebox cookies.

There’s a lot more to spicy sweets than chocolate (see also: mango, spice cake, and tequila or rum), but the two do go especially well together. Which makes sense, considering they’re both Latin American fruits. For more chocolate-and-chili-pairing advice, consult our complete guide.

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