Does dried fruit actually expire?

Dried fruit is a popular snack that many people enjoy for its sweet flavor and chewy texture. Drying fruit through dehydration removes moisture, which allows it to be stored for longer periods without spoiling. But does dried fruit really last indefinitely, or does it have an expiration date?

How is dried fruit made?

Fruit is dried by removing most of the water content through evaporation. Typically, fruit is sliced and then placed into large industrial dryers that blow hot air at temperatures between 130-170°F. The high heat helps extract moisture rapidly while preserving nutrients and flavors. Drying fruit increases the concentration of natural sugars, resulting in an intensely sweet and tasty snack. Additionally, the lack of moisture makes it impossible for bacteria, yeasts and molds to grow.

Home dried fruit is made by thinly slicing fruit like apples, apricots, bananas, mango, figs, pineapple, strawberries etc. The slices are arranged in a single layer on dehydrator trays or baking sheets, then placed in an oven or food dehydrator for 6-48 hours at 95-155°F. Flipping and rotating the fruit every few hours encourages even drying. Once dried, fruit feels leathery with no moisture left.

Do dehydrated fruits ever go bad?

Yes, dried fruit can eventually expire and go bad. However, its shelf life is significantly longer compared to fresh fruit. Properly dried and stored fruit can last 6 months to 2 years past its best by date. After that, dried fruit slowly loses flavor, texture and nutrients. Expired dried fruit may not make you sick, but will taste stale, be hard to chew or even moldy.

Here are some signs that your dried fruit has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Visible mold
  • Shriveled, hard or overly tough texture
  • Rancid or bitter flavor
  • Dull, faded appearance
  • Presence of liquid or moist spots
  • Fermented smell

How to extend the shelf life of dried fruit

Proper storage is key for maximizing dried fruit’s longevity and preventing premature spoilage. Here are some tips that can help keep dried fruit fresh for longer:

  • Store in an airtight container or zipper bag after opening the original packaging. Oxygen exposure causes faster deterioration.
  • Keep dried fruit in a cool, dark place like the pantry. Heat, light and humidity will speed up spoilage.
  • Refrigerate or freeze for even longer shelf life. Refrigeration keeps dried fruit edible for up to 1 year while freezing can extend it to 2 years.
  • Inspect regularly and remove any expired or moldy fruit from contact with fresh pieces. Discard shriveled or very hard fruit.
  • Do not store dried fruit at temperatures above 80°F for more than 3 days. The heat encourages mold growth.
  • Look at best by dates on packaging and do not consume dried fruit that has passed its expiration date.

What happens if you eat expired dried fruit?

Eating spoiled, mushy dried fruit that is past its prime won’t make you sick but can cause temporary digestive upset like cramps, nausea or diarrhea. However, expired dried fruit with visible mold is not safe for consumption.

Mold growth means the food has become a potential breeding ground for harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus. Consuming moldy dried fruits puts you at risk of foodborne illness. Always discard dried fruit with any fuzz, spots or colorful growth.

Can you freeze dried fruit to extend its shelf life?

Freezing is an excellent way to prolong the shelf life of dried fruit for up to 2 years past the printed best by date. To freeze, simply store dried fruit in an airtight freezer bag or container. Squeeze out excess air before sealing to prevent freezer burn.

Most dried fruits freeze well, including:

  • Dried apple slices
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried bananas
  • Dried mango
  • Dried pineapple
  • Dried strawberries
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried blueberries
  • Dried cherries
  • Dried figs
  • Dried dates
  • Dried plums (prunes)

Some fruits that don’t freeze well include unpasteurized dried fruits and those with very high water content like peaches, nectarines, plums and grapes. Freeze dried fruit in proper portions so you only thaw what is immediately needed.

Can you refrigerate dried fruit?

Refrigeration can extend the shelf life of dried fruit to up to 1 year past its printed expiration date. To refrigerate, simply store dried fruits in an airtight container or bag in the coldest part of the fridge, which is at the back of the bottom shelf. Keeping dried fruit cold prevents growth of bacteria and molds.

Refrigerating also helps retain the flavor, color, texture and nutritional value of dried fruit. It is especially important for softer, sticky dried fruits like raisins, dates, prunes, apricots and figs. Avoid temperature fluctuations by limiting the times the refrigerator is opened. Dried fruit can be refrigerated immediately after opening the original package.

Do different types of dried fruit expire at different rates?

Yes, shelf life can vary among different types of dried fruit:

Dried Fruit Shelf Life
Apples 6-12 months
Apricots 12 months
Bananas 6-12 months
Cherries 12 months
Cranberries 6-12 months
Figs 6-12 months
Mangoes 1-2 years
Papaya 6-12 months
Pineapple 1-2 years
Plums & prunes 6-12 months
Raisins 6-12 months

Fruits like mangoes and pineapples that are more dense tend to keep longer. Berries like cranberries and cherries also maintain quality for a year or more. Soft fruits like figs and bananas stale faster. Keep in mind that proper storage and handling impacts shelf life more than anything.

How to tell if opened dried fruit has gone bad?

Here are signs that opened dried fruit has expired and should not be eaten:

  • Appearance: Dull, faded color. Wrinkled or deflated looking. White film or spots of mold.
  • Texture: Very hard, breaks apart or crumbles when bent rather than flexing. Sticky, syrupy or wet areas.
  • Smell: Fermented, sour, musty or rotten odor instead of sweet fruit scent.
  • Taste: Rancid, bitter, sour, or “off” flavor.

Loss of the bright, vibrant color and pliability indicates dried fruit has oxidized and deteriorated in quality. Changes in texture and moisture levels also signal spoilage. Off smells, flavors and visible mold are sure signs dried fruit has expired and should be discarded.

What is the white coating on some dried fruits?

Some dried fruits like apricots, plums, dates, figs, and raisins, may have a light white, filmy residue. This harmless coating is produced naturally by the fruits themselves:

  • Sugaring: Evaporation of sugars in high-sugar fruits like grapes causes sugaring, leaving a fine white powdery layer similar to frosted grapes.
  • Natural yeasts/pectin: Microscopic yeasts and pectin fibers from the fruit skin can emerge as a whitish film when dried.
  • Sulfur dioxide: Trace amounts of approved preservatives like sulfur dioxide prevent browning but leave behind a dull finish.

The white film is safe to consume and does not mean the fruit is spoiled. However, if the coating thickens, becomes spotted, or develops colorful mold, it means the dried fruit should be discarded.

What nutrients are lost when fruit is dried?

Drying fruit causes it to lose moisture but becomes more nutrient dense. Some vitamins particularly sensitive to heat and oxidation are reduced, but overall nutrient levels remain high:

  • Fiber content stays intact as the skin and pulp cell structures are preserved.
  • Potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese are well retained.
  • Some B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid are reduced by up to 30%.
  • Vitamin C levels decrease by around 50% due to oxidation.
  • Beta carotene losses range from 6-24% depending on the fruit.

To maximize nutrition, opt for hot air dried fruit rather than alternatives like freeze dried, which better preserves delicate vitamins. Consuming dried fruit within the best by date ensures you receive the most nutrients possible.


Dried fruit can remain edible for months up to a year or more past its printed expiration date. However, it will eventually degrade in quality and safety. Signs like visible mold, shriveled texture, foul smell or rancid taste indicate dried fruit has spoiled and should be discarded. Storing dried fruits properly in a cool, dark place helps extend its shelf life. For maximum freshness, refrigerate or freeze dried fruit in airtight containers. While dried fruit loses some moisture and heat-sensitive vitamins when processed, its fiber, minerals, antioxidants and sweet flavor remain concentrated.

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