Food processing aims to make food more marketable and attractive to potential consumers, often giving the processed food a longer shelf-life. Fruit can go through numerous types of processing, including canning, drying, and juicing. Some types of processed fruit are fruit preserves, canned fruit, and fruit juices. Processed fruit is generally not as healthy as fresh, raw fruit. In fact, a lot of products marketed as fruit products do not contain much fruit at all.
Washing, drying, and packaging fruit is usually not considered processing. Processing begins when the fruit is turned into something other than raw fruit by cooking or preserving it. Even if this process is as simple as cutting an apple and drying it to preserve it, that apple is no longer raw fruit. Sometimes additives, preservatives, and sugar is added to processed fruit to make it look and taste better than it normally would when a customer finally opens the product to consume it.
After fruit is washed multiple times, the processing begins. As an example, if the fruit is to be turned into fruit preserves, it is first cooked until soft. A sugary syrup and sometimes additives and preservatives are added. The fruit is then sealed into a jar, or in some cases, placed in a squeeze bottle. As another example, the fruit is dried and packaged, sometimes with sugar added depending on how sweet the fruit is naturally.
While the processed food found in grocery stores is usually processed mostly by machine, many people process their own fruit. Learning to process and can fruit at home is especially beneficial for people with fruit gardens and fruit trees that produce more than an individual or family can eat before it spoils. In addition, the processor is in charge of the preserving ingredients, ensuring no undesirable ones are added.
Some processed foods are much healthier than others; for example, a baked apple packaged with no other ingredients is healthier than deep fried apple slices. In certain cases, the healthier option is not always clear, sometimes because of marketing techniques. An example of this is juice products advertised as “made with real fruit,” which is true, but a consumer must look closer to see the fine print that says “contains 10% real fruit juice.” The remaining ingredients are filtered water and sugar, which is essentially a plain syrup. Not all processed fruit products are as misleading, however.