AlmondsAlmonds seem to possess their own history, having had numerous estimable qualities ascribed to them throughout the ages. Almonds have been associated with hope, good fortune, and celebration; credited in Biblical passages and in Greek mythology; and used in trade in the Levant. Today the U.S. is the largest single producer of almonds, and produced about 1.3 billion pounds (shelled weight) in 2009.
Almonds are widely promoted for their health benefits, including their high nutritional value and low cholesterol content. The most popular and widely consumed nut, almonds are sold separately and are used in trail mixes, confections, and packaged foods such as cereals. Almonds are also used as an ingredient in the cuisines of many different cultures. Red River sources its almonds in the U.S.
BrazilsSixteenth century Spanish explorers of the South American continent termed Brazil nuts “Almonds of the Andes.” The nuts are gathered wild in the Amazon rain forest in Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. Brazil nuts are actually seeds that grow 10-25 in a coconut-size pod. Because of its height and canopy, the brazil nut tree is critical to the ecology of the Amazon rain forest. A Brazil nut tree could live to be 500-1000 years old! Most U.S. imports are from Bolivia, not Brazil!
Brazil nuts are nutrient rich with a texture similar to coconut. They are used in baking and confections as well as in nut mixes. Red River has a steady and growing market for Brazil nuts, we can provide organic brazil nuts.
CashewsCashews are the world’s premier nut and Red River’s major import. Red River is the largest cashew importer in the U.S. We source our cashews from Vietnam, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Africa. We maintain an agent in Vietnam and employ a representative in India to enable us to source the finest cashews in those countries, and we have long established and very cordial relations with our Brazilian cashew suppliers.
For years, consumer demand was on the increase in the U.S. with nation-wide discount stores offering cashews in large volumes at attractive prices. Since cashew imports peaked in 2004 at 288 million lbs, demand has been relatively flat, but imports have remained in the range of 240-250 million lbs and account for about two-thirds of all shelled tree nuts imported into the U.S.
While most cashews are sold in the U.S. as a snack food, their superior quality in comparison to other nuts also makes cashews an excellent ingredient in dishes. Indeed, cashews are part of the recipe for traditional cuisines in many other countries. The use of cashews as an ingredient has great potential in the U.S. and would complement their popularity as a snack food.
We do offer organic cashews.
Filberts, BlanchedFilberts, or hazelnuts, are used extensively in confections and are also used in bakery products. Filbert production is concentrated in Turkey along the southern coast of the Black Sea. Turkey accounts for about seventy percent of world production and the Turkish government maintains highly modern and efficient processing factories to accommodate its crops. While the U.S. does not import large quantities of filberts, Red River is the single largest importer, buying almost exclusively in Turkey. U.S. commercial filbert production is concentrated in Oregon.
Red River offers organic as well as non-organic filberts.
Filberts, Natural/UnblanchedFilberts, or hazelnuts, are used extensively in confections and are also used in bakery products. Filbert production is concentrated in Turkey along the southern coast of the Black Sea. Turkey accounts for about seventy percent of world production and the Turkish government maintains highly modern and efficient processing factories to accommodate its crops. While the U.S. does not import large quantities of filberts, Red River is the single largest importer, buying almost exclusively in Turkey. U.S. commercial filbert production is concentrated in Oregon.
Red River offers organic as well as non-organic filberts.
MacadamiasMacadamia nuts have been rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S. for use in confections and as a snack food. First discovered in 1857 in eastern Australia along the Queensland coast, macadamias were so named in honor of a Dr. John Macadam, a colleague of the Australian botanist who made the actual discovery. Australia is the leading producer of macadamia nuts, but macadamias are also grown in large quantities in Hawaii, South Africa, and Guatemala. Production has been notably increasing in South Africa and that country has made great strides in the international macadamia market. Red River purchases most of its macadamias from South Africa and buys some from Central America.
PinenutsPine nuts, also widely known as “pignolias” from their Mediterranean origins, are widely used in baking, particularly in ethnic dishes. There are two principal types of pine nuts harvested and sold commercially in the international market: the Chinese or Korean pine nut (Pinus koraiensis) and the Mediterranean or Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). The Mediterranean pignolia is the most common, produced primarily in Spain but also in Portugal and Italy. The pignolia kernel is longer and narrower than the Chinese pine nut, which has a more triangular shape. Chinese pine nuts are by far the dominant type consumed in the U.S., accounting for over 95 percent of all U.S. pine nut imports.
Red River operates a pine nut processing factory in Dalian, China, and is the largest U.S. importer of Chinese pine nuts. We can supply organic as well as non-organic pine nuts from China.
PistachiosLike other nuts and fruits of Middle Eastern origin, pistachios have a history of their own. Pistachios are cited in the Bible (Genesis) and supposedly were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba. Originating in the region of what is now Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan, pistachio cultivation gradually spread to Mediterranean Europe. Pistachios were introduced into California in the late 1800s. Pistachios (Pistacia Vera) belong to the cashew (Anacardiaceae) family, which includes mango, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The leading pistachio producers are Iran, Turkey, the United States, Syria, and China.
Pistachios are a “multiple use” product, found as ingredients in dishes and salads, used in baked items, and added to deserts, as well as being savored as a separate snack item. Red River can source pistachios from California and the Mediterranean/Asia Minor region.
WalnutsThe U.S. is the world’s largest producer of commercial walnuts. U.S. production is concentrated in California’s Central Valley and was estimated at 830 million lbs (in-shell) in 2009. Other major producers include China, Iran, and Turkey.
There are about sixty species of walnut, but the English walnut, sometimes called the “Persian” or “Carpathian” walnut, is the walnut of commerce. The Latin term for this species is Juglans regia, reflecting the walnut’s initial association with royalty. Although the origin of the walnut has been traced to Persia, Asia Minor, and eastern Europe, we identify it as the English walnut because English merchants carried the nut across the globe.
Walnuts have countless uses in bakery items, confectionaries, desserts, pastes, and sauces as components of local cuisines. Red River procures its walnuts from California.
Apple RingsDried apple rings are used as ingredients in dried fruit and trail mixes, are further processed for use in cereals, and are packaged separately for a variety of individual applications. Dried apple rings can be rehydrated for uses in deserts and in baked products. Like other dried fruit, apple rings are sulfated to preserve color and to ensure a long shelf life. Red River sources most of its apple rings from China.
Banana ChipsBanana chips are increasingly popular as a snack food, whether in trail mixes, fruit chip mixes, or packaged separately. The Philippines is the principal source of Red River’s banana chips. There are approximately eighty different types of bananas grown in the Philippines, but our banana chips are produced mainly from the Saba variety, the leading banana cultivar in the country. The bananas are harvested when the skin is green, then washed and peeled. The fruit is sliced and fried in fresh coconut oil. After being sorted by size, the chips are soaked in a glucose solution with honey syrup and fried a second time. We purchase chips with banana flavoring added.
BlueberriesBlueberries are one of the few fruits native to North America. The five-pointed star on the fruit caused some Native Americans to refer to it as “star berry.” In fact, the Native Americans of what is now New England taught the early colonists how to harvest blueberries and dry them under the summer sun for winter consumption. With production in thirty-five states, the U.S. grows the great majority of the world’s blueberries. Appropriately, in 1999 the U.S. Congress declared July “National Blueberry Month.”
Of course…Red River buys its dried blueberries in the U.S.
CantaloupeCantaloupes are so named for a former papal villa (“Cantalupo”) near Rome. Supposedly, seeds from Armenia were introduced into the papal gardens there during the sixteenth century. Botanically speaking, cantaloupes are members of the Curcurbitaceae family, which includes squashes, gourds, watermelons, pumpkins, and cucumbers.
Like dried mango, papaya, and pineapple, dried cantaloupe is washed, sulfated, boiled, and dried in ovens. Dried cantaloupe has a lively sweet and tangy taste. It is used as a separate snack item and makes an attractive addition to fruit salads and compotes. Most dried cantaloupe product is available in spears, chunks, and dices. We source dried cantaloupe from Thailand.
CherriesLike peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds, cherries have one stony seed and belong to the family Rosaceae and genus Prunus. Cherries are native to the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. In the U.S., California, Washington, Oregon, and Michigan grow the most cherries. Michigan grows the majority of the tart cherry variety, while the Northwest primarily grows sweet cherries. Traverse City, Michigan, claims to be the “Cherry Capital of the World,” and in 1987 baked the world’s largest cherry pie: 28,400 pounds. However, in 1992 the town of Oliver, British Colombia, Canada, topped that with a pie of 39,700 pounds. As with blueberries, the U.S. has a “National Cherry Month”—February.
Red River doesn’t offer cherry pies. We do offer the best in dried cherries. Like other dried fruits, dried cherries are sulfated for color and flavor retention. We source our dried cherries right here in the U.S.
CoconutOur exclusive source for desiccated coconut (i.e., coconut which is dehydrated by drying) is The Philippines. We can provide coconut in a variety of preparations: flakes, chips, shreds, or granulates. Our product is sulfated, although we can provide a non-sulfated product available for special orders. Ordinarily, we fill orders for unsweetened coconut, but we can easily source sweetened and/or toasted coconut products as well. Coconut has a multitude of uses in baking and confectionaries.
Note: Don’t be confused between “coconut” and “copra”! Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Actually, copra is sun-dried coconut meat from which coconut oils are extracted. Desiccated coconut is oven-dried coconut
CurrantsThe term “currant” is derived from Corinth, a city in southern Greece about fifty miles west of Athens, because of the raisins produced from the small seedless grapes grown in the region around the city. “Currant” made its way into the English language as early as the mid-sixteenth century. Currants are native to the northern hemisphere and have been grown for centuries in North America, Russia, and Asia. Currants grow on shrubs (not vines). Commercial cultivation of currants was banned in the U.S. until 2003 because of fears the plant could act as a host for a disease damaging to timber.
Currants are used as an ingredient in bakery products and as a snack food. We purchase currants only in the U.S.
DatesDates are fruits of the date palm tree. The term “date” is derived from both Hebrew and Latin words for “finger” because of the fruit’s oblong shape. The world’s date production is concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa. Pakistan is also a major producer, and dates are produced in California. Dates are believed to have been cultivated in the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamian regions as early as 4000 B.C. From there, date cultivation spread both east to Pakistan and the Indus Valley and north/west to the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa. With the advance of Arab culture, dates were introduced into Spain. References to the date palm and dates are plentiful in the major religions originating in the Middle East, particularly in Islam.
Dates are used extensively in baked products, salads and dishes, and confectionaries. In the retail market they are also packaged separately. Red River sources pitted dates from Pakistan, but we can also obtain dates from California. We can provide dates as wholes or cut to customer specifications.
Dried ApricotsDried apricots are one of Red River’s most popular offerings. In the retail market, they are sold as a separately packaged item and are included in trail mixes. Dried apricots are used as an ingredient in many bakery products.
We source all our dried apricots from Turkey’s Malatya Province. Turkey is the world’s leading apricot producer and Malatya is the center of Turkey’s dried apricot industry, renown for producing high quality, sweet tasting apricots. We maintain an office in Malatya, staffed with our local representative who ensures our product’s quality from buying to processing and packaging. Our apricots are sulfated to preserve color, but we can also provide non-sulfated, organic dried apricots. Non-sulfated and organic apricots take on a deep, rich brown color.
FigsFigs are intertwined with the culture and history of the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe. There are references to the fig tree in Biblical passages, descriptions in Greek and Roman mythology and writings, and evidence today of Arab fig cultivation in the Iberian Peninsula. The fig tree is thought to have been indigenous to southern Arabia and from there spread northward to what are today Syria, Turkey, Iran, and adjoining Middle Eastern countries. From the Middle East, figs were introduced into Greece and from there into Italy. The sweep of Arab culture into North Africa and southern Europe advanced fig cultivation in the Mediterranean to an even greater degree, especially in Portugal and Spain. During the age of European exploration, figs were introduced to the West Indies and ultimately to California where today they grow in the Central Valley.
Figs are packaged separately and used extensively in baking. We purchase most of our figs from Turkey because of the large, tasty fruits produced in that country. Turkey’s fig production is centered in the Izmir and Aydin regions in the western part of the country.
GingerGinger is the tuberous root of a small, tropical plant resembling an iris. Originating primarily in India, ginger was one of Asia’s attractions to Europeans engaged in the spice trade. To the Chinese, ginger is considered a “yang,” a hot food balancing the “ying” of the milder, cooler foods, thus establishing a kind of culinary harmony. Ginger has had multiple applications, including use as a medicinal herb and as a flavoring for soft drinks (ginger ale) and bakery products. By far most ginger production is in Asia, though there is substantial production in Africa and some in the West Indies. India and China are the two major producers.
Red River sources nearly all its ginger from Thailand. Ginger is sulfated and may be preserved with a sugar coating. We can make ginger available in wholes, slices, dices, and spears.
Goji BerriesThis increasingly popular berry fruit in the west is native to Asia, primarily China. It has numerous other names, but is most commonly called “Wolfberry.” The fruit itself is an elliptically shaped orange-red berry one to two centimeters in length. Most commercially-produced Goji Berries are grown on plantations in north-central and western China, in Ningxia and Xinjiang Provinces. Goji berries have been used in China for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Today dehydrated berries are sold separately and included in various mixes. Red River sources Goji berries, as you might expect, from China.
Golden BerriesThe golden berry is indigenous to South America, primarily Peru, but also grows elsewhere in South America and in Africa. As a species, it is Physalis Peruvian, as you might expect.
In Peru, the berry can be known as the Incan Berry and in South Africa as the Cape Gooseberry, where it was cultivated in the region of the Cape of Good Hope. Like other dried berries, the golden berry has multiple uses. It can be a separate snack; mixed with cereals; prepared as a jam; or used as an ingredient in salads, sauces, and desserts. Red River sources its golden berries from Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.
KiwiKiwifruit is native to China, but is now grown commercially in a number of countries, including New Zealand, where missionaries out of China introduced the fruit in the early part of the twentieth century. In fact, in the 1960s, New Zealand exporters named the fruit “Kiwifruit” for the flightless bird which is that country’s national symbol. Its prior nomenclature had included Chinese gooseberry, melonette, and starfruit. The term “Kiwifruit” was commercially adopted as a trade name as recently as 1974.
We supply dried kiwifruit slices from China.
MangoThe mango is native to southern Asia, especially India and Myanmar. However, today mangoes are grown the world over in countries with tropical climates. The mango tree is a member of the family Anacardiaceae and thus related to cashews and pistachios... and to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Dried mango is available in wholes, slices, spears, and dices. Most mango products we sell are sulfated to preserve color, but we can also source natural dried or organic mango. We purchase nearly all our dried mango from Thailand.
PapayaPapayas are thought to have originated in southern Mexico and Central America, but are now found in tropical climates throughout the world. Brazil and Mexico are the leading producers and there is substantial production in Nigeria, India, and Indonesia. First identified as “tree melons” by Europeans, papayas are called by numerous other names, including paw paws (Australia and the West Indies), melon zapote (in some Spanish speaking countries), and mamaeos (Brazil).
Dried papaya is in demand for trail mixes and for separate packaging. We primarily supply papaya which has been sulfated to preserve its natural color, but we can also supply natural dried non-sulfated papaya. Papaya can be prepared as slices, dices, and spears. Like many of our other dried fruit products, Red River sources its dried papaya from Thailand.
PeachesChina is considered the original home of the peach because of literary references dating back five or more centuries B.C. Chinese wayfarers might have brought the peach seed to Persia via Kashmir and the silk trading routes. Greeks and/or Romans likely introduced the peach into Mediterranean Europe from Persia, from which it takes its scientific name, Prunus persica.
Dried peaches are another addition to Red River’s long list of dried fruit offerings. Like other dried fruit, peaches are sulfated for color retention and preservation, but can be offered in their natural state as well. The fruit may be sun-dried or oven-dried. We source our dried peaches from California.
PearsDried pears are used primarily as a snack item…You can often see them in fruit trays. Fresh pears are simply peeled, cored, and sliced to varying thicknesses. Most are then tunnel-dried (though some may be sun-dried) and sulfated to preserve color. You can even dry pears in your oven at home! We source our dried pears here in the U.S.
PineappleWhile we might associate the pineapple with Hawaii, this fruit is actually native to southern Brazil and Paraguay. Indians spread the fruit northward in South America and to Central America and the West Indies. Columbus discovered the pineapple on the island of Guadeloupe, naming the fruit “The Pine of the Indies” because of its outer resemblance to a pine cone. Columbus introduced the pineapple to Spain and Europe, from where it was spread around the world by merchant sailors. The English added the word “apple” to associate it with the commonly enjoyed apple. Because of its scarcity and desirability in Europe, the pineapple was a principal offering to house guests by those hosts who could obtain the fruit, and so became a symbol of hospitality.
Dried pineapple is always in demand for trail mixes and for separate packaging. Similar to the treatment given other dried fruit products, pineapple is sulfated to preserve its natural color. Dried pineapple is also available in its natural form. Pineapple can be presented in numerous ways, including wholes, slices, dices, and chunks. Red River sources nearly all its dried pineapple from Thailand.
PrunesPrunes, of course, are dried plums. And that is the name change officially accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 at the request by the California Prune Board (now Dried Plum Board) in a move to appeal to younger consumers. Drying plums to make prunes is thought to have originated near the Caspian Sea and Caucuses region of present day Russia. The distribution of plum trees spread westward and reached the U.S. in California in the mid-1800s. Today California is the world’s largest producer of dried prunes. And, yes, there is a “National Dried Plum Month” in the U.S.—January.
We source our prunes—or dried plums—in the U.S. and in Chile
RaisinsRaisins are in steady demand and are especially popular with the health food industry, choice bakeries, and packers of trail mixes. Red River sources nearly all its raisins from Chile, primarily the “Chilean Flame” red grape variety. These raisins are a large, flavorful, and moist product and an especially attractive ingredient in trail mixes. The Chilean flame raisin is available in jumbo and medium sizes. Smaller raisins of other varieties are used in the bakery and confectionary industries.
StrawberriesBotanically speaking, the strawberry is really not a “berry.” The strawberry plant is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family, along with such fruits as blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and peaches. Dried strawberries are prepared by immersing whole, fresh strawberries in a sugar solution and then drying to the desired moisture content. Like other dried fruits, dried strawberries have multiple applications. They are used in jellies, jams, and a variety of deserts; in trail mixes; in cereals; in bakery products; and, of course, sold separately as a snack item. Red River obtains its dried strawberries from California.
PepitasPepitas are the kernels from hulled pumpkin seeds and are offered primarily by Chinese and Mexican producers. They are sold separately as a snack food or in trail mixes. In Mexico, pumpkin seeds have been a staple since at least 5000 B.C., and are now produced commercially in the Yucatan. Chinese pepitas, larger than those produced in Mexico, are produced mainly in Yunnan Province in the southwestern part of the country. Red River sources pepitas from China.
Sunflower SeedsUnlike so many food products introduced into America from other parts of the world, the sunflower is considered a new world crop discovered by the Europeans who first came to America. Lewis and Clark observed Indians consuming sunflower seeds as a source of energy. From the Americas the sunflower was introduced to the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Russia, and China. Today sunflowers are cultivated worldwide with increasing production in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Sunflower seeds are used extensively in bakery products and as an addition to salads. They are also a source of vegetable cooking oil. As a popular American snack, sunflower seeds are associated with baseball, the national pastime, from Little League to the Major Leagues. (You can see the hulls post-game on nearly any baseball field!)
In addition to human consumption, sunflower seeds are used for bird and pet food. The smallest sized kernels constitute this market.
Red River Foods sources edible sunflower seeds from China.
Apple ChipsApple Chips are what the name implies: thin slices of apples which have been dehydrated by baking until crispy. They may also be vacuum fried. Apple chips may be plain or spiced with flavoring such as cinnamon. Apple Chips are a snack by themselves or a feature of fruit chip mixes. We source our apple chips in Vietnam, China, and Tawian.
Chili BitsChili rice bits are another example of an Asian snack food which has surged in popularity in the U.S. They are made from rice cracker mix with spicy additives and are presented in an elongated (about one inch) shape, of orange-reddish color. They can be included as part of rice cracker mixes or purchased separately. Red River imports chili rice bits from Taiwan.
EdamameThe term “Edamame” simply means soybeans. It is a Japanese term, but can be applied to Chinese and Korean soybeans as well. The preparation of Edamame begins with soybeans harvested when they are not fully ripe, before they would naturally harden in the pod. Edamame can be quick frozen after the pod and the soybeans are boiled or steamed and, in most instances, flavored with salt. Edamame can also be prepared by roasting, dehydrating, and salting the soybean only. And this is how we offer Edamame. The result is a low calorie, high fiber snack food. We import from China.
Green BeansGreen bean chips are sold separately or included in vegetable mixes. String green beans are vacuum fried. This method of preparation removes moisture, requires less fat than regular frying methods, and helps retain natural color and flavor. The chips, which are really not chips as we think of potato chips, but lengths of the string bean, are then lightly salted. We purchase all our green bean chips from Vietnam and China.
OkraOkra may have originated in the Ethiopian highlands, but the term “okra” itself is likely of West African origin. While little is certain about its initial distribution, okra was likely introduced to Arabia and from there to the Mediterranean. Today okra is grown in tropical and temperate regions throughout the world. In the U.S., okra is commonly grown in the south and northward into the mid-Atlantic. The Okra pod or capsule follows yellow to white flowers and may grow up to seven inches long, containing numerous seeds. Outside the U.S., okra may be known as “Lady’s Fingers.” We offer okra from Vietnam and China.
Peanut SnaxPeanut Snax, especially popular on the West Coast of the U.S., is an all-natural coated peanut product. Produced in Asia, peanut snax is made from jumbo Virginia-type peanuts and is offered with various naturally flavored coatings, such as sesame seed, original, and Cajun. Red River is a major U.S. importer of this increasingly sought-after product. We source our peanut snax from China…which now is the single largest peanut producer.
PeasThe term “pea” is of Latin derivation, and originally appeared in English as “pease,” as in “pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold…” Fried green peas are a very popular veggie snack item…but did you know that in botanical terms, peas are actually a fruit? No matter; they can be consumed separately, as an ingredient with salads, or as an ingredient in dried vegetable mixes. Some even claim fried green peas are a great substitute for peanuts. Like other veggie snack items, our green peas are vacuum fried.
Malaysia is our primary source for fried green garden peas.
Rice CrackersRice cracker mix and other Asian snack foods are relatively new to the U.S. market, but demand is on the increase. As the name implies, rice crackers are derived from rice which is ground, puffed, or otherwise processed and then formed into various shapes, baked or roasted, and flavored. These products are as tasty as they are novel and attractive. We import rice cracker mixes from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Sun-Dried TomatoesThe origin of the tomato has been traced to the Andes Mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador in South America, where it first grew as a small cherry-size fruit. The tomato we know today was developed in Mexico as a “tomatil,” from whence it was introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers. The tomato was not really accepted in North America until the late 1800s when ketchup was introduced. In fact, until the early 1800s, many in North America thought the tomato poisonous! Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, even though the U.S. Supreme Court, in an 1893 decision involving tariffs, declared it a vegetable based on its use.
Sun-dried tomatoes are highly valued for their flavor and are used as ingredients in many types of sauce and salad dishes. We purchase our sun-dried tomatoes primarily in Turkey, where great care is taken in their preparation. Once the fresh tomatoes have been washed and sized, they are cut in half. The halves are cured with sulfur dioxide and set out in the drying yard, cut side up. During drying the sulfur dioxide evaporates, having preserved color and taste and having prevented spoilage. After the tomatoes have been dried to the optimum moisture level, usually after five or six days, they are placed in cold storage. Depending on the customer requirements, we can provide halved, sliced, diced, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes. It takes approximately twenty pounds of fresh tomatoes to make one pound of sun-dried tomatoes.