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  • Jocette Lee

Cuma//joo mah: Pestil



In my middle school cafeteria, there was nothing more desirable or tradeable than a plastic-wrapped fruit roll-up or fruit-by-the-foot. It felt so exhilarating to tear open the package, peel back the wrapper and uncover the insulin-spiking, sticky, fruit-flavored snack. While these snacks of the 90s felt new, colorful, and cool, dried fruit or fruit leather-based snacks date back to ancient cultures in the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia (1).


Armenia, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Morrocco, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, and other modern-day countries located primarily in Central Asia and the Middle East, perfected recipes for dried fruit as a way to preserve and process fresh fruits for year-long availability. There are even ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets dating to about 1,700 BC, which detail the process of drying and preserving fruits like grapes, dates, figs, and pomegranates (2). The fruits were often added to bread, rice and other dishes to add sweetness and flavor.


In Turkey, fruit leather is known as pestil or bastık, and it is commonly available all over Turkey (in Armenian pestil is called pastel and in Greek it is called pastilos). The fruit is pulverized, turned into pulp, and then spread into a thin layer so the water can easily evaporate. Once dried, the pestil is rolled, packaged, and sold at health food stores, gourmet nuts stores, or the weekly market. For obvious reasons, the sweet flavor is a hit with kids but it also delivers vitamins and minerals in seasons where fresh fruit is not available. Reference the picture below to see how pestil is rolled and sold at the market.



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References:

  1. "Dried fruit." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_fruit

  2. "The History Of Dried Fruit." http://sunburstoranges.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-history-of-dried-fruit.html