Fruitful opportunities

by Jeff Gelski
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Fruit may be used as an ingredient in products as a source of potassium.

KANSAS CITY — Recent consumer trends are creating opportunities to formulate with fruit. Coconut cream and prunes may assist in yogurt innovation. Raisins and apples may keep baked snacks fresh for a longer time. Several types of fruit, and not just bananas, may help products qualify for potassium claims.

The upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 should establish a health halo over fruit. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Feb. 19 listed vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium as shortfall nutrients, or those not consumed enough by Americans.

“In comparison to recommended amounts in the U.S.D.A. Food Patterns, the majority of the U.S. population has low intakes of key food groups that are important sources of the shortfall nutrients, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy,” the D.G.A.C. said.

In yogurts, both coconut milk and coconut cream may enhance other flavors from fruits or other added components, including items such as chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, and/or peanut butter, said Don Giampetro, vice-president of innovation and quality for iTi Tropicals, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J. While coconut cream generally is standardized to 24% fat, coconut milk has less than 20% fat, he said.

Fat in coconut cream and coconut milk has a different mouthfeel than other types of fat because the melting point is different, he said. The melting point affects how other flavors spread across the palate. Thus, coconut cream or coconut milk may enhance other flavors, such as those in a piña colada fruit preparation for a yogurt.

Coconut water, meanwhile, allows formulators to make a juice claim in a carbonated beverage, Mr. Giampetro said. Also, a juice beverage will keep a 100% juice claim and may be less acidic when coconut water is included. For example, a 100% juice product could be 60% to 70% orange juice with the rest of the juice content coming from coconut water, which is low acid.

Prunes are another potential ingredient for use in yogurt. They have been shown to provide digestive health benefits in yogurt and other products, said Tom Leahy, a spokesperson for Sunsweet Ingredients, Walnut Creek, Calif.

“A real world example is prune yogurt, which traditionally is very popular in the European markets and is finding traction in newer markets such as Japan and Thailand,” he said.

How fruit affects water in snacks is a key benefit.

“Fruit ingredients can be chosen to adjust water activity and/or pH,” said Kevin Holland, Ph.D., product developer for Tree Top, Inc., Selah, Wash. “Due to the hygroscopic nature of many fruit ingredients, they can help bind up water. Additionally, they can be used to adjust texture in some applications. It is about matching the right fruit ingredient to the application to achieve the desired outcome.”

Raisins have lower water activity than other dried vine fruits because of their intact skin and fructose-glucose content, according to the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno. The lower water activity prevents migration of moisture to or from ingredients in preparations.

Cherries, because of their low water activity, may be used in low-moisture snacks, confections and cereal, said Jeff Manning, chief marketing officer of the Cherry Marketing Institute, DeWitt, Mich. They may help bind dry ingredients in cereal, bread, cookies, cakes and energy/breakfast bars. Cherries may be used in formulations to reduce fat, lower calories or reduce salt, he said.

“Beyond the sweet-tart flavor, ruby red color, fruit content and nutrition characteristics, tart cherries can impart a wide range of highly desirable functional properties to a diverse group of food and beverage products,” Mr. Manning said.

Improving potassium intake

Potential upcoming government stances on potassium may give cause to use such fruit as bananas, apples, pomegranates, plums and coconuts as ingredients in products.

The D.G.A.C. on Feb. 19 designated potassium as a nutrient of public health concern because of its general under consumption across the U.S. population and its association with hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. The Food and Drug Administration last year proposed mandating the addition of potassium on the Nutrition Facts Panel.

Bananas contain 13% of the Daily Value of potassium as well as 20% of the D.V. of vitamin B6, 15% of the D.V. of vitamin C and 15% of the D.V. of manganese, according to Chiquita Fruit Solutions. The company offers such ingredients as frozen banana puree for use in ice cream, frozen whole peeled bananas for use in baked foods, and a blend of purees and slices for use in the yogurt industry.

“Bananas have quite a bit amount of potassium as do dried apples,” Dr. Holland said. “Using enough of either of these ingredients will allow you to achieve a ‘good source’ of potassium claim.”

Low-moisture dried apples contain 863 mg of potassium per 100 grams (the D.V. is 3,500 mg) while evaporated apples contain 685.5 mg of potassium per 100 grams, according to Tree Top.

Pomegranate juice contains 214 mg of potassium per 100 grams, according to the D.G.A.C. Pom Wonderful, Bakersfield, Calif., offers Pomx extract powder, Pomx extract liquid, 100% juice concentrate, juice concentrate powder, freeze-dried arils and IQF (individually quick frozen) arils. While Pom Wonderful offers items for sale at retail, Pom Wonderful ingredients are being used in such products as yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, chocolates, salad dressings, spreads and jellies.

Coconut water by itself qualifies as a good source of potassium, Mr. Giampetro said. When used as an ingredient, coconut water may contribute enough potassium for a product to qualify for a claim, he said.

Dried plum powder contains 1,050 mg of potassium per 100 grams, according to Sunsweet Ingredients. Fresh plum concentrate contains 802.96 mg of potassium per 100 grams, and diced dried plums contain 732 mg of potassium per 100 grams.

A half cup of dried tart cherries provides nearly 10% of the Daily Value of potassium as well as nearly 10% of the D.V. of fiber and nearly 50% of the D.V. of vitamin A, Mr. Manning said. Anthocyanins are behind the potential health-promoting properties of cherries, such as soothing arthritis symptoms and enhancing sleep, he said.

A MicroDried process from Milne Fruit Products, Prosser, Wash., allows fruit to retain its nutrients, fragrance and taste. The drying process heats the fruit to reduce the microbial load and uses a vacuum-microwave dehydration technology to finish drying. Available in whole or fragmented pieces and powders, the fruit may be used in such items as cereal, baked foods, trail mixes, granola bars and snack items.

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