In any discussion involving fruits and vegetables, there is some good news and some not-so-good news. Let’s start with the latter—not just to get it out of the way but rather to keep it in mind when developing useful strategies for incorporating fruits and vegetables as an ingredient in both traditional and nontraditional formulations.
To put it simply, consumers are not eating enough foods from this category. In fact, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that all U.S. states fall short of national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables (those being two or more fruit servings and three or more vegetable servings each day.) Moreover, surveys indicate that on average, only 14% of American adults and 9.5% of American adolescents meet that recommendation.“Eating a diet that includes a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables provides a wide range of valuable nutrients important to health,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, President and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables to improve health of Americans. “Based on this-state-by-state data, every single state has a great deal of room for improvement.” She added, “When you remember that all product forms count—fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% fruit and vegetable juice, it really is easy to add more fruits and vegetables throughout the day.”
The color of fruits and veggies eaten can be as important as the quantity, noted a new report by the Nutrilite Health Institute, Buena Park, Calif., a global leader in plant-based nutrition science. Eight in 10 Americans are missing out on the health benefits of a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, noted the recently released America’s Phytonutrient Report, which looked at consumption in five color categories, specifically green, red, white, blue/purple, and yellow/orange. The health benefits of phytonutrients are believed to come from the compounds that give these foods their vibrant colors. The report found that Americans have a “phytonutrient” gap in every color category. For example, 88% of Americans are not eating enough blue/purple fruits and vegetables, while 79% are not getting enough orange/yellow and 78% not enough red.
So what’s the good news? Well, as an ingredient, fruits and vegetables offer a variety of benefits, including color, flavor, texture, sweetness, and potential health value ranging from fiber to antioxidants. For the formulator, interested in taking advantage of these benefits, there are a variety of opportunities out there to incorporate fruits and vegetables in applications, some not even traditionally associated with these foods.
When using fruits and vegetables, formulators can take an approach which strongly promotes their color, linking it to the potential health value of the specific food. Like those classic sea adventure movies, food products today are unfurling their colors as a way of showcasing their antioxidant benefits. Produce, such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and carrots are being developed that are purple-colored—their availability to the mainstream market will not only make anthocyanins more readily accessible but can provide a distinctive coloring that consumers might find appealing, especially children. Health and nutrition experts have increasingly pointed out that “color coding” the diet with foods rich in certain colors can be a cue for good health. The Cherry Marketing Institute launched a marketing campaign, “Eat Red, Choose Cherries,” as a way of cultivating recognition in the food industry that red is a cue for healthy eating. And the blueberry folks, of course, have adopted various strategies that have made use of the distinctive color of their fruit.
Another approach that formulators can take is a more subtle incorporation of fruits and vegetables. By utilizing the benefits of fruits and vegetables in already-popular applications— whether it’s a pizza sauce or a hamburger or a snack—formulators can help children, as well as adults, get more servings of fruits and vegetables into their diet. This approach has sometimes been called “Stealth Health” and it certainly creates some interesting opportunities for expanding the use of fruits and vegetables.
And let’s not forget that fruits and vegetables may be used as a source for natural colors, flavors, or even sweeteners. Although these subsequent ingredients are not necessarily designed to increase the number of servings from that category, they do demonstrate the versatility of fruits and vegetables in the art of formulating. Furthermore, their use in these areas may even help provide a reminder of the importance of fruits and vegetables, creating a possible stimulus for increasing the consumption of these foods, in general.
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For future formulators, fruits and vegetables may increasingly form the basis for products ranging from nutraceuticals to “beauty foods.” For example, a food additive, derived from phytochemicals found in tropical fruits or vegetables, reportedly has the ability to emulate insulin and may prove effective in the treatment of diabetes. In Japan, formulators are developing fruits snacks consisting of dried mangoes, pineapples, papaya, and cranberries that are coated with collagen—these products are targeting younger women who are conscious of their skin health.
This article will look at some of the different ways that fruits and vegetables are being served up as ingredients, the kinds of benefits they offer, and how they can help shape emerging product concepts. Hopefully, their use will provide food formulators with the necessary fruitful strategies for addressing nutrition and functionality issues.
Mapping Out Fruits and Vegetables
At its 2009 Innovation Roadshow, David Michael & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. (phone 215-632-3100, www.dmflavors.com), showcased the important role that fruits and vegetables are playing in emerging trends from around the world, and the number of ways that these ingredients may be utilized in product development.
In her presentation, “Roadmap to the Roadshow,” Erin O’Donnell, the company’s Marketing Manager, provided an overview of the prototype products being highlighted and the trends that influenced their development. Interestingly, of the 27 exhibits shown, more than one-third involved the use of fruits and vegetables, indicating their nutritional, flavor, and functionality value, as well as their timeliness as an ingredient in an environment strongly shaped by the economy and health considerations.
The company demonstrated how fruit snacks can be infused with nontraditional flavors to make them more exciting for children. Prototype Bar-B-Que-Flavored Peach Chips and Bacon-Flavored Apple Shoestrings are said to present a healthier alternative to salty fried snacks and can be consumed by themselves or served with or even on sandwiches and other foods. The fruit is infused with the flavor and dried, but unlike other dried fruit snacks, there is no topical coating. Other flavor possibilities might include spicy smoked sausage, salsa, taco, ranch, and sour cream and onion delivered in peaches, pears, carrots, and snap peas.
In recent years, some gummy fruit manufacturers have added real fruit juice to their products. Other applications, however, can also make use of the subtle addition of fruits and vegetables. For example, how about adding fruit flavors to a tomato-based sauce for a healthier version of a kid’s favorite? David Michael featured a Mandarin Peach Tomato Sauce and a Pineapple Cranberry Tomato Sauce for pasta applications. Each serving reportedly provides a third of the daily intake of vitamins A and C for kids, as well as eight percent of the daily value of dietary fiber. The sauce is also low in calories and contains no added sugar. Foods such as pizza, hamburgers, dipping sauces, and prepared entrees can take advantage of the addition of real fruits and vegetables in their formulation.
According to O’Donnell, “consumers are adopting exotic flavors from around the world. For the past few years, the emphasis has been on Latin America. While this still holds true, we expect to see more attention on Asian flavors coming forward.” One example is yuzu, a sour Japanese citrus fruit that has a flavor described as a cross between delicate sweet mandarin orange and crisp sour lemon. The rind is most often used to flavor fish, vegetables, noodles, and other savory dishes, as well as in ponzu, a sauce made with rice vinegar and served with rice, sashimi, and tempura. Yuzu can also be utilized in sweet goods, such as cakes, desserts, jams, and spreads. The company showcased yuzu flavor in a confectionery product, Yuzu Mint White Chocolate Truffle, and a Japanese-style mayonnaise dip, Yuzu Koshu, suitable for vegetables.
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Authentic Chinese fruit flavors, Honey Sweet Date (Jujube) and Sea Buckthorn, were highlighted in jelly candies containing 10% real fruit juice from the source. Native to China, the sweet date, or jujube, has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. It can be eaten throughout different stages of ripening, based on preference—from yellow-green to red fruit with a crisp texture (similar to that of an apple) to a darker red, shriveled, and drier condition. Jujubes can be eaten fresh, candied, or dried, and may be used in sweet and savory formulations. The flavor and texture of jujubes works particularly well in cakes, cereals, syrups, beverages, fruit snacks, and confections. Sea buckthorn, a shrub that produces yellow/orange berries, is native to China, Russia, Mongolia, and Northern Europe. While its use has spanned centuries, China began experimenting with sea buckthorn on a commercial basis in the 1980s, developing several sports drinks using the berry, which is said to be higher in vitamin C than such fruits as strawberries, oranges, and kiwi. Potential uses for sea buckthorn include bagged teas, juices, and other beverages, as well as confections and jams.
With Peruvian cuisine becoming a hot new food trend, David Michael offered a taste of Peru by showcasing an ice cream made with the flavor of lucuma, a sweet fruit of an evergreen tree. The fruit has a yellow-orange pulp, and is gentle in flavor with notes of sweet brown and maple. The lucuma is a favorite flavoring for ice cream in Peru—in fact, neopolitan ice cream is often sold in a vanilla/strawberry/lucuma variety. At the show, the lucuma flavor was featured in a molded lucuma ice cream novelty with chocolate and a cookie base. The flavor may also work well in yogurt, pies, cakes, and smoothies.
Exotic fruit flavors, of course, are not limited to South America or Asia. Australian Blood Lime—a relatively new hybrid of Red Finger Lime and Rangpur Lime—has potential in markets outside of Australia. Its sweet and tangy flavor is suitable for use in cocktails, sauces, desserts, savory dishes, and other products. At the show, the flavor was highlighted in a carbonated beverage and hard candy.
Called “the fruit of the gods” by the ancient Greeks, persimmon trees are native to China, Japan, Burma, the Himalayas, and Northern India. Today, this fruit grows in areas ranging from the Mediterranean to Australia to California. Resembling a tomato, persimmons are best eaten when they are fully ripe. Their slightly astringent flavor and gel-like texture can be applied to a number of applications, including puddings, salads, jams, pies, vinegar, and breads. Because of their growing popularity, David Michael developed a line of persimmon flavors which it featured in a fat-free potato-based non-dairy beverage.
According to the National Apple Association, the average U.S. consumer eats a total of 46 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products in one year. On average, about 60% of the U.S. apple crop is marketed for fresh consumption. That means that nearly 40% of the crop is processed into such traditional products as apple cider (sweet, hard, or sparkling); apple cider vinegar; apple juice/apple juice concentrate; applesauce; and apple slices.
As an ingredient, apples are quite versatile, as they marry well not only with sweeter ingredients, but also with savory ones. Today, apples not only go into pies but can be used in salads, stir-fry, casseroles, sweet and savory dipping sauces, and a variety of other emerging applications.
“No longer considered just a one-use ingredient, apples can play a versatile role, creating sweet and savory dishes that offer a healthier alternative to other ingredients,” said Todd Michael, Food Service Sales Manager for Knouse Foods Coop, Inc., Peach Glen, Pa (phone 717-677-8181, www.knousefoodservice.com), an established grower cooperative and food processor for apples and a variety of apple-related products.
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The company demonstrated this versatility with a prototype Green Summer Salsa, featured at the 2009 IFT Food Expo. In this “a bit unexpected” formulation, apples add some sweetness to the heat of chili peppers and the savory flavors of other ingredients. Other prototype ideas developed by the company include Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apple Butter Glaze, Apple Chicken and Wild Rice Salad, Apple Coconut Crisp, and Maple Sausage, Apple, and Sweet Onion Brunch Tart.
The use of an apple in a formulation frequently depends on its variety. For example, Gala (crispy, juicy, and very sweet) is suitable for use in applesauce; Granny Smith (green flesh, very tart flavor) is best for baking and pies; Rome (mildly tart) is primarily used for cooking; and Red and Golden Delicious works well in salads. And new varieties are being created as well. University of Minnesota apple breeders spent more than 10 years developing the SweeTango apple which recently became available in stores. This apple, said to be a cross between Honeycrisp™ and Zestar™ varieties, is said to provide a satisfying crunch with a flavor described as juicy and sweet with hints of spices.
Thirsting for Coconut Water
Coconut water is a translucent, free-flowing liquid found inside coconuts—the fruit of the coconut palm, botanically known as cocos nucifera. (It should not be confused with coconut milk, the sweet, milky-white cooking base taken from the flesh of a fully developed coconut.) This liquid endosperm of green coconuts has been used, especially in the tropics, as a refreshing beverage for replacing electrolytes lost from exercise and illness.
Known as “a natural isotonic sports drink,” the water is rich in essential electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, sugars, and growth factors. It also has no added sugars, fat, or cholesterol. Because of its chemical composition, it can provide effective hydration and mineral replenishment.
As such, coconut water offers growing potential as a natural energy or sports drink for the mainstream market—a point not going unnoticed by major beverage companies. Both Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are reportedly investing in coconut water companies with new products expected to be appearing soon in the marketplace.
In addition to its use as a standalone beverage, it may find value as a food ingredient as well. ITI Tropicals, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J. (phone 609- 987-0550, www.iTitropicals.com), recently launched coconut water concentrate for the juice industry. While the standard for coconut water is 5o Brix, the new product is reportedly a 60o Brix concentrate that can be diluted from 6.436 solids to 0.424 solids per gallon. It may be used in conjunction with sweeteners such as stevia, and its gentle flavor and color makes blending with juices easier.
The company is able to provide samples and present seminars and demonstrations to educate customers about the benefits of coconut water, and can help develop product formulations using the concentrate. Some examples of beverages might include coconut water and acai blend, coconut water and pomegranate smoothie, and pineapple coconut water. With a stable and consistent supply source of fresh coconuts, iTi can ensure customer demand for the long term.
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A standardized composition of freeze-dried coconut water solids is offered by Sabinsa Corp., Piscataway, N.J. (phone 732-777-1111, www.sabinsa.com). This ingredient, marketed under the name Cococin™, is promoted as a nutrient for use in nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy products, milk products, snack foods, chewing gum, instant tea, coffee, soups, and a variety of other formulations. In 2008, the company received GRAS status for its freeze-dried coconut water solids.
The McCormick Flavor Forecast 2008 highlighted the pairing of coriander and coconut water as one of the emerging flavor trends to watch out for. The minty, citrus flavor of coriander balances the slightly sweet taste of coconut water. Together, they can enhance the flavor or a variety of dishes, such as sorbet, chilled soups, or Asian-inspired entrees.
Baobab is the fruit of a tree species (Adansonia digitata) found in Africa, especially South Africa, and Madagascar. (Interestingly, the distinctive tree looks like it’s upside down.) Baobab fruit, shaped like a thin watermelon, has a hard coconut-like shell, inside which are seeds and a tangytasting fruit pulp. This pulp is best known for its high vitamin C content and antioxidant potential, but is also promoted for its calcium, potassium, thiamine, and nicotinic acid. In addition, it has been shown to stimulate intestinal microflora, making it a potential prebiotic ingredient.
Although it has a long history of use (ancient Egyptians reportedly knew about its health potential), the fruit is not as familiar throughout the rest of the world. According to PhytoTrade Africa, a non-profit trade association representing baobab producers in Africa, the fruit pulp— processed into a powdered form—can be used in product formulations to provide flavor enhancement, viscosity and texture modification, and nutritional fortification. Potential applications might include smoothies and other beverages, snack bars, breakfast cereals, fruit fillings, jams, sauces, dairy desserts, and other products.
In its notice letter to the Food and Drug Administration, PhytoTrade proposed the use of baobab dried fruit pulp (BDFP) as an ingredient in blended fruit drinks at a level of up to 10% and in fruit cereal bars at up to 15%. The organization described the ingredient as a free-flowing, coarsely milled powder derived from the fruit of the baobob tree; its color as off-white to cream; and its flavor as tart and acidic. It contains approximately 79% carbohydrates, 14% moisture, 6% ash, 2% protein, and 0.5% total fat, in addition to concentrations of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Based on the information submitted, FDA responded in July 2009, stating that it “has no questions at this time regarding PhytoTrade’s conclusion that BDFP is GRAS under the intended conditions of use.” As a result of the non-objection letter, products containing the ingredient may appear in the U.S. market as early as 2010. Similar approval has also been granted in the European Union a year earlier.
Ingredient companies are making available samples of baobab extracts. For example, Nutraceuticals International LLC, Elmwood Park, N.J. (phone 201-796-4041, www.nutraintl.com), offers Baobab Fruit Powder, which has a high pectin content useful for binding and thickening, and Baobab Fruit Extract, which provides the flavor of baobab but without the pectin. P.L. Thomas & Co., Morristown, N.J. (phone 973-984-0900, www.plthomas.com), which sources, markets, and sells ingredients for the food, beverage, and health/wellness areas, includes a baobab pulp in its extensive portfolio. The novel botanical extract is high in vitamin C (at least 150 mg/100g), B-vitamins, calcium, amino acids, and fiber.
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Blueberries may be used by product developers to garnish indulgent treats as a way to grant permission to the reluctant, according to U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC), Folsom, Calif. (phone 800-824-6395, www.blueberry.org). This “exoneration via blueberries” is due to the antioxidant-rich, good-for-you image that blueberries have.
The organization maintains that “whereas sin used to sell such luxuries as chocolate truffles, these days even sin doesn’t have the panache of antioxidants.” Because consumers identify blueberries as beneficial to their health, they seek them out, especially if they’re contained in products traditionally viewed as indulgent. The blueberry presence can lend healthier attributes to such products as confections, desserts, baked goods, and other indulgent treats.
And since we’re in the throes of the holidays, this is the time when consumers celebrate by eating—and frequently overeating—indulgent foods. The healthier value of blueberries can be incorporated into a variety of these products. In fact, USHBC offers a booklet, “Ring in the Blue,” which provides food product formulators with starter concepts and formula ideas for the use of blueberries in holiday foods. Imagine a Pumpkin Blueberry Pie for Thanksgiving, or Blueberry Cottage Cheese Latkes for Hanukkah. Blueberries can also help to make reformulated products more attractive for holiday celebration. For example, blueberries can provide gluten-free formulations with a homey and old-fashioned quality; they may be used in low-fat salad dressings and sauces; and can be paired with whole grains in bakery and dessert products.
In addition to their health appeal, blueberries offer a variety of functionality benefits, starting, of course, with their rich color. They may be used to add a sweet-tartness to sauces, dressings, relishes, marinades, and barbecue sauces. They can help add texture to muffins, yogurt, cereals, chunky fruit jams, and snack bars. And they can flavor products ranging from fruit-based smoothie cakes to probiotic fruit juice shots.
So make this one a Blue Christmas.
Taking a Back Door Approach
In an interview with Chris Stepan, Corporate Chef for Vegetable Juices Inc., Chicago, Ill. (phone 708-924-9500, www.vegetablejuices.com), he discussed several ways to improve fruit and vegetable servings in foods. “Americans of all ages need to eat more fruits and vegetables. One easy way to help is by using the right type of ingredient,” he observed.
A pureed vegetable or fruit by itself would be considered one portion or serving size, Stepan said. “ACT Advanced Concentrate Technology or nonthermal processing creates concentrates that, based on the Brix levels, can multiply that by five. Both purees and concentrates can be utilized to increase vegetable portions within formulations, enhancing flavor and improving the sweetness profile.”
In a muffin, for example, nonthermally concentrated vegetables or fruits can be used at 13% in a formulation, at the same level as honey, Stepan noted. The nonthermal concentrates can help cut down on the glycemic index, provide a sweetening property, and add more fruit and vegetable portions to the formulation.
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“Butternut squash puree works well in baked goods, such as cookies,” Stepan continued. “It retains water well to help the cookies remain moist, and the flavor is neutral with light floral notes. Even when used in low concentrations within a baking environment such as a cookie, the vegetable portion can be increased from zero to a third of a serving.”
According to the chef, “one way to incorporate stealth health into a popular market segment is through an innovative beverage. It’s the perfect environment for a half-and-half blend of vegetable and fruit juices that possess their own natural sweeteners. Because the concentrates are so purified, this half-and-half blend together can contribute a serving of each from the fruit and vegetable group.”
He added, “Ordinarily a consumer wouldn’t drink a glass of beet juice. Yet it’s a good match for pomegranate, currently a popular beverage flavor. Nonthermally processed beet juice has a light flavor that stays in the background. In addition, the beet juice lends its own special mix of antioxidants to those of the pomegranate to create a healthy beverage.”
Nonthermally processed vegetables benefit from a special filtration process that helps control the flavor notes that can be customized according to client specifications, said Stepan. “For example, a carrot can have very earthy tones. One customer might want to retain that earthy flavor for a soup or vegetable dip application. Another might want it removed for a beverage application. Nonthermal processing can do that, leaving behind all the essence of a carrot, butternut squash, or beet—all of the substances contained in the original vegetable, but with a much lighter, more floral flavor note.”
Vegetable Juices Inc. uses processes designed to preserve the intense flavor notes and nutritional value of the raw material, whether the ingredient is a juice, concentrate, diced, puree, or a custom flavor blend. One of the company’s newer products is Soft Frozen Purees of herbs and vegetables, gently frozen for quick easy use. The purees are produced using a proprietary freezing technology that makes them scoopable at a frozen temperature and lets them thaw four times as fast as hard-frozen products. The line consists of garlic, onion, lemongrass, roasted red pepper, carrot, and ginger purees. Their fresh look and flavor make them suitable for use in soups, sauces, marinades, salsas, and other applications.
Delivering Ultra-High Fruit Content
A new formulation for snack and confectionery applications delivers up to 700 g of real fruit per 100 g of finished product with no added sugars. It was eveloped by Taura Natural Ingredients, Winchester, Va. (phone 540-723-8691, www.tauraurc.com), utilizingits Ultra Rapid Concentration (URC) technology.
According to Peter Dehasque, the company’s CEO, the ingredient provides the highest fruit content available on the market today. Made from all-natural fruits, the formulation contains a high level of fruit puree with no added sugars or preservatives. He noted that its ultra-high fruit content and functionality is enabling the development of new fruit-based product concepts in such areas as nutritional snacks, baked goods, cereals, chocolate, and confections. The ingredient was launched at the 2009 Food Ingredients Europe exhibition.
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The company, specializing in functional fruit ingredients, uses URC technology to manufacture a range of pieces, flakes, and pastes in a bake-stable, low-water- activity format. The process concentrates fruit purees to less than 10% moisture in 60 seconds. The fast process time ensures that the ingredients retain their natural flavor, color, and nutrition in a range of applications.
The company claims that it has been successful in applying its technology to traditionally difficult to work with fruit, such as strawberries, cherries, and raspberries, as well as an increasing range of exotic fruits including acai, pomegranate, and kiwi. The company also created fruit and vegetable combinations that deliver a serving of fruit and one-half serving of vegetables. A success with vegetable products is opening the door to a range of innovative savory snack developments, said Amy Wright, Taura’s Global Marketing Manager.
Plumming New Phosphate Alternatives
Many meat products include the addition of alkaline phosphates as a method of retaining moisture and extending shelf life. However, phosphates can exhibit unacceptable off-flavors, including a “soapy” flavor note. Recent research suggests that dried plum ingredients are suitable as an alternative to alkaline phosphates and can help enhance underutilized animal proteins—a consideration made especially important in today’s economy.
According to the California Dried Plum Board (CDPB), Sacramento, Calif. (phone 800-729-5992,www.cdpb.org), an initial experiment successfully replaced alkaline phosphates in vacuum tumbled boneless/skinless chicken breasts using dried plum powder and dried plum fiber. Follow-up evaluations using fresh plum juice concentrate to replace phosphates yielded similar results. Moisture binding was within acceptable targets before and after cooking with superior sensory characteristics vs control chicken breasts.
These results encouraged the CDPB to award a research contract to the University of Arkansas to evaluate the ability of dried plum ingredients to replace phosphates in chicken. The year-long study will expand the body of existing knowledge supporting dried plums’ efficacy as a meat ingredient.
In addition to replacing phosphates, California dried plums can deliver a number of functionality benefits. These include reduction of purge and warmed-over flavor, antimicrobial properties, natural caramelization, moisture binding and tenderizing capabilities, extension of shelf life, and salt reduction.
At the 2010 World Wide Food Expo, CDPB demonstrated how dried plums can make underutilized meat cuts and lesser grades more profitable while providing high-value taste and texture. Chef Rick Perez, culinary consultant to CDPB, used the ingredient to replace phosphates in the creation of chicken tenders in two flavor versions—lightly seasoned and parmesan-garlic seasoned. Also on the menu were Cajun lifter steaks and Asian pork loin steaks.
Perez joined Chefs Michael Formichella and Steven Shipley for an onstage demonstration of Asian pork loin and Korean beef BBQ, both marinated with dried lum ingredients. The presentation focused on applying underutilized meat cuts to emerging ethnic flavors.
California dried plums, available in a variety of forms, can be incorporated into most meat products.
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‘Next-Generation’ Sweetened Dried Cranberry Launched
In 2009 Ocean Spray Cranberries Ingredient Technology Group, Lakeville/Middleboro, Mass. (phone 508-946-1000, www.oceansprayitg.com), launched a new health marketing campaign for its cranberry ingredient portfolio. The campaign, “One Berry, Whole Body,” is said to promote a holistic view of the role of the North American cranberry in improving well-being. See the 2009 October Ingredients section for more information about this program and the health benefits that cranberries can offer.
A new sweetened dried cranberry, Choice SDC, was recently introduced by the company. The ingredient is described as a low-cost option that can help food manufacturers improve the taste, texture, appearance, and nutritional profile of baked goods, cereals, bars, and trail mixes without impacting processing. Like the other SDC versions, this ingredient is said to contain the health benefits associated with the cranberry, including high levels of bacteria-repelling proanthocyanidins and antioxidants, as well as the antiinflammatory flavonoid quercetin.
“Choice represents an evolution in the sweetened dried fruit category,” said Kristen Borsari, the company’s Global Senior Marketing Manager. “We now offer SDCs at varying cuts, moisture contents, and degrees of sweetness, to fit a wide range of applications. Our original SDC offered a tart flavor profile in a low-moisture ingredient suitable for specific applications. The Soft & Moist dried cranberry expanded the range into a variety of functional food applications, adding value to trail mixes, baked goods, and confectionery. Choice represents a move towards the next generation of SDC, delivering a competitive edge while providing all of the advantages of sweetened dried cranberries.”
From Freezer to Formulation
The Controlled Moisture ™ vegetable line from Gilroy Foods and Flavors, a business of ConAgra, Omaha, Neb (phone 800-921-7502, www.gilroyfoodsandflavors.com), has two new additions.
A line of peppers and onions, Kitchen Cuts, feature random, shorter strips that offer a rustic, hand-cut appearance. They may be used as an alternative to identically cut produce in a variety of applications, including wraps, sandwiches, egg dishes, salads, and pizza. With less water than Individually Quick Frozen and fresh, they are said to perform better and can reduce preparation time. Varieties include Yellow Onions, Red Onions, Fire Roasted Yellow Onions, Fire Roasted Red Onions, Fire-Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Fire Roasted Green Bell Peppers, and Fire-Roasted Peppers and Onions. They are available separately, blended, and seasoned.
Controlled Moisture Spinach offers significantly less water than IQF or fresh so that dishes will not become soggy. The free-flowing, frozen-dice format does not clump, making it easy to portion and serve. Since it is ready-to-eat, there’s no need for thawing or heating—it can go right from the freezer to formulation. Potential applications include dips, spreads, egg dishes, calzones, pizzas, and other products.
Developing Fruit and Veggie Wraps
A variety of flavorful fruit and vegetable wraps have been developed by scientists at USDA’s Agriculture Research Service Western Regional Center in Albany, Calif., and the founder of Origami Foods LLC, Stockton, Calif. Made from fruit and vegetable purees and other natural ingredients, the colorful, paper-thin sheets, may be used in the creation of appetizers, entrees, desserts, and other products.
The wraps contain 75-90% fruit or vegetables, and are low in calories and fat. They come in a variety of flavors including mango, strawberry, tomato-basil, carrot-ginger, red bell pepper, and many others. The wraps and a related product— meltable sheets that form flavorful glazes—are said to be strong yet pliable, making them easy to work with. These new products may help introduce children to the many flavors of fruits and vegetables, encouraging them to eat more daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
The new developments were discussed in the August 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
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Shades of the Future
According to a new European Community directive on food additives, which becomes mandatory January 20, 2010, foods which contain certain artificial colorings (including orange yellow, quinoline yellow, and azorubine) will have to be labeled with the warning “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
In response to the new legislation, Germany-based Symise (phone +49 0 40/46 96 770 25, www.symrise.com) has adapted its portfolio of colorants so that manufacturers can comply with labeling requirements while selecting the exact shade they want. SymColor® colorant foods are derived from natural raw materials such as grapes, hibiscus, tomatoes, beets, and other plants. These products do not need to be labeled with an E-number. Also included in the portfolio are SymColor natural colorings, which as the name implies, come from components found in nature.
Suntava LLC, Afton, Minn. (phone 651- 998-0723, www.suntava.com), recently launched a natural colorant derived from a non-genetically modified purple corn hybrid. The product, which contains a high level of antioxidants, provides an alternative to Red Dye #40, as well as some yellow food dyes. It is said to have very good stability in both heat and light. Applications include beverages, confections, dairy products, fruit preparations, and other products.
D.D. Williamson & Co., Louisville, Ky. (phone 502-895-2438, www.ddwilliamson.com), introduced a blue color naturally derived from anthocyanins in vegetable juice. This light- and heat-stable coloring functions best at pH 5.5-8.0, and is used in royal icings, butter cream frostings, colored sugars, and chewing gum.
Wild Flavors Inc., Erlanger, Ky. (phone 859-342-3526, www.wildflavors.com), developed a natural acid-stable blue color additive that is derived completely from fresh fruit. The color is said to have a pH range of 2.5-8.0; is heat-, light- and acid stable in a broad range of food and beverage applications; and offers a brilliant blue color. It is also easy to blend with other natural colors for a variety of color choices.
And Roha Food Colors USA recently added HerbaBrown™, a natural brown color derived from fruit extracts to its Natracol™ natural color product line. The new addition is designed for use in low pH applications such as beverages, candies, teas, fruit pectins, jellies, yogurt, marinades, and salad dressings. An alternative to class IV caramel colors, it provides a deep brown color with a neutral taste.
Serving Up Fruits and Vegetables
Many of the formulations incorporating fruits and vegetables are designed for children, but also have potential for adults who are not getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables. Here are just a few more examples of interesting prototype products developed by ingredient suppliers.
A nutrient fortified fruit bar prototype, Eatable Fruitable, provides two servings of fruits in a kid-friendly form. The bar, developed by Watson Inc., West Haven, Conn. (phone 203-932-3000, www.watson-inc.com), contains pear puree, pear concentrate, and strawberry concentrate, as well as a nutritional premix of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and botanicals to give kids an energy boost.
A drink prototype from Wild Flavors Inc., Erlanger, Ky. (phone 859-342-3600, www.wildflavors.com), imparts two servings of fruits and vegetables per eight ounces. Acai Mixed Fruit Super Veggie Drink consists of 90% juice (apple, acai, spinach, and concord grape juices, with banana and pear puree) and has a natural purple color.
A blend of high antioxidant fruits from SunSweet Growers Inc., Yuba City, Calif. (phone 800-417-2253, www.sunsweet.com), combines dried forms of cherries, plums, wild blueberries, and cranberries in a convenient 5-oz package. The product, Sunsweet Antioxidant Blend, provides a healthy snack choice and can be incorporated into muffins, added into salads, stirred into hot oatmeal, or used with other ingredients such as nuts.
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An innovative use for pomegranate arils has been developed by Stiebs Pomegranate Products, Madera, Calif. (phone 559-661- 0031, www.stiebs.com). The arils, the fruit’s red kernels containing the juice and seed, are infused with fruit juice concentrate to achieve a moisture content of 12%, similar to that of raisins. The shelf-stable product may be used in such applications as cookies, breads, energy bars, and snack mixes.
And expect to see more of these formulations in the 2010 May Ingredients section which will be focusing on stealth health for kids and the different kinds of ingredients formulators are using to make foods for kids more nutritional without turning them off. Because of their many benefits, fruits and vegetables will certainly play an important part in this approach.
So you see—even though there is bad news regarding daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, there are many opportunities to try to rectify that problem. And, more than ever, formulators have reason to take advantage of the properties of fruits and vegetables.
Next month’s Ingredients section will take a census on the senses, looking at how taste modifiers impact sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and other taste sensations in the formulation.
Research Ripe for Picking
With consumers not getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables, researchers are looking for ways to enhance produce to make them more desirable to consumers, as well as enhance their potential as an ingredient. Imagine, for example, a new apple variety used in a bakery product. Or a purple tomato used in salsa. Or juice products made with blends of fruits and vegetables that offer improved quality or taste.
Here are a few examples of recent research developments that can have implications for future product development:
• A research project, RosBREED, aims to combine emerging DNA sequence and research findings to improve the quality of apples, peaches, cherries, and strawberries— key species in the botanical family Rosaceae. The project, led by Michigan State University scientists, recently received a $14.4 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative.
“This is a watershed year for Rosaceae with the peach, apple, and strawberry genomes being sequenced,” said Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station scientist Amy Iezzoni, head of the project. “Yet a huge gap exists because this DNA-based information is rarely applied to improve plant breeding for the development of new fruit cultivars. These crops provide vital contributions to human health and well-being.”
The project involves scientists from 11 U.S. institutions, including several universities such as Michigan State, Washington State University, and University of Minnesota; USDA laboratories; and six international partners from the Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, France, and the United Kingdom. Through their cooperative efforts, they hope to produce fruit that have crisper textures, more flavor and aroma, and are resistant to pests and disease.
• Scientists from Texas AgriLife Research have completed the mapping of the melon genome, opening up new possibilities for sweeter or more nutritious fruit. Specific genes have been identified for higher sugar content, disease resistance, and even drought tolerance. The results of their study are published in the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences.
• USDA’s Agricultural Research Service scientists are making progress in determining the genes that control pit formation in plums. (See the July 2009 Ingredients section.) Pitless fruit varieties would offer a premium product that could increase the consumption of these nutritious foods as well as help food processors save money spent on their removal.
• HortResearch, a New Zealand-based science company in fruit research, has developed a number of new fruit cultivars. It also compiled an extensive compound database— a valuable research tool for creating innovative fruit-derived products with novel flavors and health functionality. Utilizing knowledge in phytochemicals, food chemistry, nutrigenomics, and molecular biology, the company is delivering scientific breakthroughs to meet emerging markets. It formed a strategic collaboration with Blue Pacific Flavors, City of Industry, Calif. (phone 626- 934-0099, www.bluepacificflavors.com) that could further new developments in the area of fruit-based flavors and ingredients.
by Donald E. Pszczola,
Senior Associate Editor