Questions and Answers on Canned Deciduous Fruit:
1. What is canned fruit?
The fact that some kinds of fruit only ripen at certain times of the year creates a problem for the producer and consumer. To safeguard the fruit against decay it is sealed in airtight containers and then cooked during the canning process. In this manner the micro-organisms are destroyed with the result that the canned fruit can be stored for long periods without refrigeration or freezing. The main advantage of canned fruit is that different kinds of fruit such as peaches, pears and apricots, are available throughout the year to the housewife and to everyone enjoying delicious canned fruit. Canned fruit contains no pits, stalks or peels and is ready for use as soon as the container is opened. It can be used in meals as a hors d’oeuvre, to complement the main dish or with the dessert. A beautiful recipe book with a number of practical recipes for canned fruit is obtainable from the Association.
2. How nutritious is canned fruit?
Most of the foods we consume today are prepare in one way or another to enhance the flavour or to safeguard it against decay. Fruit can be dried, frozen or canned. Canned fruit is packed in airtight containers, the syrup is added and then a cooking process follows to preserve the fruit. Very little of the nutritional value is lost. In this regard it is interesting to know that fresh vegetables and fruit also lose a certain amount of nutrients during storage.
3. For what length of time may canned fruit be stored?
Canned deciduous fruit is at its best a few months after canning, so it is recommended that it should be consumed soon after purchase for maximum enjoyment. However, the cans my be stored for several months or even years if necessary. Under normal conditions preserved deciduous fruit e.g. apricots, peaches, pears and fruit salad will keep for three to five years. If canned fruit is stored for long periods a harmless gas can be formed due to a reaction between the acid in the fruit and the metal of the can. After an extended storage time a change in the colour and flavour of the product my set in causing the product to appear less attractive to the consumer. The product is, however, still quite suitable for use. For a longer shelf life it is important to keep canned deciduous fruit in a cool dry place to prevent the can from rusting.
4. May products in dented cans be used?
During the canning process a vacuum develops between the product and the lid of the can. The vacuum indicates to us that the canned product is still in a good condition. Should a can be damaged so that leakage occurs then the container is no longer airtight and the contents runs the risk of being infected. Canned deciduous fruit in cans which are rusted or damaged along the seams, must be treated with the utmost caution and must rather not be used.
5. Does canned fruit contain preservatives?
Canned fruit contain no preservatives and is canned in sugar syrup or natural fruit juice. The medium used for canning is clearly indicated on the label.
6. What other advantages do canned fruit hold?
Canned fruit keeps for a reasonably long period if it is stored in a cool, dry place and is a great help in a state of emergency when no water or electricity is available or when fresh products are contaminated. Today a wide selection of canned fruit as well as fruit mixtures such as fruit cocktail and fruit salad is available. Canned peaches and pears are also available in halves, slices or dices.
7. Is canned fruit inspected?
All canned fruit, shortly after it is processed, is subjected to inspection by government inspectors on the factory premises. There exists a series of quality requirements to which a can of canned fruit must conform. Amongst other factors the quality of the fruit, the fruit mass in the container, the strength of the syrup and the possible existence of micro-biological decay, are observed. Products which do not conform to these strict specifications are reject and may not be marketed. In addition, each factory also has its own internal quality control where continuous supervision is carried out to monitor the quality of canned products. South African canned fruit is regarded as amongst the best in the world.
8. How is the quality of canned fruit indicated?
The quality of canned fruit is identified by the grade designation which appears on the label. Fancy Grade indicates the best quality, followed by Choice Grade, Standard Grade and Sub-standard Grade. In the case of yellow cling peaches, Fancy Grade halves may not be trimmed while slight trimming is permitted in the case of Choice Grade halves. The grade designation, therefore, only has a bearing on the appearance of the fruit, while there is no difference in the nutritious value and the mass of the contents of cans of the same size. There are also various can sizes available to suit each family and every pocket. Do look around when next you visit your supermarket and you will be pleasantly surprised at the large selection and variety of canned fruit at you disposal.