Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dave's Kitchen - Sulfuring dried fruit


I ran across this in an old cook book and it reminded me about something my dad did with dried apples when I was a kid. It was called "Sulfuring".

It calls for placing dried fruit on racks in a wooden barrel and lighting an ounce of sulfur in the bottom and letting it burn and allowing the fumes to rise up and seep into the fruit. The barrel would be left for a full day after the sulfur burned, then the fruit was gathered and stored.

The purpose for this was to keep pests out of it while it was stored, and when my dad did it, it worked. I don't ever remember any bugs getting into the apples when we would eat the slices throughout the winter.
My mom would store the apple slices in paper bags in the cabinets. so there was plenty of opportunity for insects to get into them. We didn't store them in air tight containers like I do nowdays.

Some dried fruit is still treated with sulfur, I can sometimes taste it in dried fruit we get at the grocery store. Its a taste that once you know what it is, you will not forget it. Its not really an unpleasant taste but you will know it is there.

I checked with my Dad and he said that he has still seen "Campden Tablets" available in some places. They are "Pills" that you drop into water and they release the same SO2(sulfur dioxide) that burning sulfur powder produces.

Caution must be used when burning sulfur.  It is very toxic and can kill if enough of it is breathed.  That may be why it is not common now.
Thanks, Dave, for sharing this interesting bit of history with us.  If times got bad and air-tight containers coulnd't be found, this might once again be used more widely.  The sulfur pills sound safer than burning sulfur powder!  I wonder which they use at commercial dehydrating plants?
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  1. Funny, I just watched a video on youtube about how people cooked during WWII, concerning rations, shortages etc. A woman was drying apple slices and lit a sulfur candle. She then put a jar over the top until the flame burned out, then quickly placed her apple slices inside and shook them. She said the sulfur kept them from browning. Then she hung them in her oven to dry. Interesting- I have never heard of any of this before today. Lost arts that my generation has no idea how to do!

    1. Wow, that's interesting. I'm sure Dave will think so too. I knew commercially dried fruit was often sulphured but never knew it was done 'at home', and would never have thought of trying that. Thanks a lot for sharing that with us. There's a lot of lost arts nowdays. It only takes one generation neglecting to pass on the information for it to be gone. Teach people!


  2. I just watched that episode. It was the first episode of The BBCs "The Wartime Kitchen and Garden".