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Top Eastern European Dried Fruit Recipes

How to use Dried Fruit


Drying fruit was a way of preserving it for the harsh winter months in Eastern Europe. It was either eaten out of hand or incorporated into recipes both sweet and savory, and became a taste sensation. Meat roasts are often stuffed with dried fruits, usually prunes, and other dried fruits, especially raisins, often end up mixed with grains like kasha or cracked wheat. Sometimes a combination of fresh fruit and dried fruit are used in a recipe, often with the addition of chopped nuts. Most braided yeast breads like chalka contain raisins.

Pickling is another instance of preservation becoming a taste people came to clamor for.

Here are top Eastern European dried fruit recipes, which is by no means an all-inclusive list.

1. Dried Cranberry Stuffing Recipe

Roast Loin of Pork with Dried Cranberry Stuffing
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Dried fruits and roasted meats go together like hand in glove. In Eastern Europe, where summer fruits are preserved either by canning or drying, apricots, raisins, currants, cranberries and pears, along with fresh apples find their way into stuffing for pork or fowl.

2. Eastern European Fruited Black Bread Recipe

Eastern European Fruited Black Bread
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Dried chopped dates or prunes are used in this dark sour rye bread recipe.

3. Russian Liqueur / Cordial with Dried Fruits and Nuts Recipe - Nalivka

© Reisons on Flickr.
This Russian liqueur is known as a nalivka and can be made at home with cognac, dried fruits and nuts. When a liqueur is aged, it is known as a cordial, so that's where this alcoholic beverage would fall. In Poland, these types of liqueurs / cordials are known as nalewki (nalewka is singular). As you can see, the Polish and Russian names are identical. Read more about Polish Nalewka here.

4. Polish Pear-Cranberry Custard Tart Recipe - Ciasto z Gruszkami i Zurawina

Polish Pear-Cranberry Tart
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Typically, this would be made with the small, wild cranberries that grow with abandon in Poland, but sweetened, dried cranberries work great.

5. Ukrainian Christmas Honey Cake Recipe - Medivnyk

Ukrainian Medivnyk or Christmas Honey Cake
© Flickr by Gnuf
There are as many versions of medivnyk as there are families. Some are made with sour cream, some with almonds or chocolate, and some are yeast-raised. What remains constant is the use of honey, preferably buckwheat honey. Honey pastries take a few days to ripen for flavors to be at their best. This also calls for raisins, dates and currants.

6. Polish Prunes Wrapped in Bacon Recipe - Sliwki w Boczku

Polish Prunes Wrapped in Bacon or Sliwki v Boczku
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This Polish appetizer recipe for prunes wrapped in bacon is fast, easy and delicious, and very traditional. You can make as few or as many as your heart desires since the ingredients are simply prunes and bacon. That's it! If you want to get fancy, you can soak the prunes in calvados and stuff them with finely chopped apples, but that's gilding the lily.

7. Date-Nut Quick Bread Recipe

Date-Nut Quick Bread
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This date-nut quick bread recipe is moist and keeps well. It's a great fall/winter dessert (consider it for your edible gifts repertoire) but is terrific anytime of year. Because it can be made with margarine, it would be a perfect parve dessert for Rosh Hashanah or any other Jewish holiday.

8. Lithuanian Easter Gypsy Pie Recipe - Velyku Pyragas Cigonas

Lithuanian Easter Gypsy Pie or Velyku Pyragas Cigonas
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Lithuanian Easter Gypsy Pie is a flat fruitcake that is made with a sponge cake batter and, thus, with a lighter texture than conventional fruit cakes. Only 2 tablespoons of flour are used in the batter, but lots of dried fruits -- prunes, apricots, figs, dates and raisins.

9. Polish Dried Fruit Compote - Kompot

Polish Dried Fruit Compote
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Polish dried fruit compote is a dessert of stewed fruit eaten year-round in Poland, but it is especially popular in the fall and winter, and for wigilia or Christmas Eve supper. It uses summer's bounty that has been preserved by drying, and then reconstituted with sugar, water and spices. Dried pears, apples, plums, figs, peaches, berries ad more are used in this dish.

10. Kasha with Mandarin Oranges and Raisins Recipe

Kasha with Raisins and Mandarin Oranges
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for kasha with mandarin oranges and golden raisins is so versatile. It can be a side dish, stuffing for roasted meats like veal, chicken, duck, pork or turkey, as a cold salad with vinaigrette, or a main course with the addition of grilled chicken or salmon.

11. Polish Fruitcake Recipe - Cwibak or Chleb Wigilijny

© EsJoie on Flickr
This is one fruitcake that won't end up a white elephant gift at your next Secret Santa exchange. The moist, light crumb has just the right spices. It calls for raisins, dried figs and apricots.

12. Easy Upside-Down Fruitcake Recipe

Easy Upside-Down Fruitcake Recipe
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This yellow cake that can be made with a box mix (or your own homemade recipe that yields two 9-inch layers) has all the toppings of a traditional fruitcake but nestled in a caramel-flavored topping and none of the heavy, dense cake of a traditional fruitcake.

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