KANSAS CITY — Concentrates allow fruit to be used in more food and beverage applications, as does a process called drum-drying. Yet when adding fruit ingredients to items like beverages and baked foods, it is important to not lose nutrients in the process.
Van Drunen Farms, Momence, Ill., uses drum-drying to convert fruit, vegetables, bean and grain products into flexible formats. Drum-drying, like all dehydrating processes, removes moisture. Product, after being pureed to a liquid or slurry, is placed into a dryer made with two counter-rotating drums set at low heat. The product dries into a thin sheet, which is ground into a range of flake and powder sizes.
“Drum-dried ingredients reconstitute quickly and retain much of their original flavor, color and nutritional value at an economical price,” said Andrew Wheeler, vice-president of marketing for Van Drunen Farms and FutureCeuticals (a sister company). “Van Drunen Farms offers custom formulation in addition to a wide spectrum of fruits, vegetables and grains in drum-dried form.”
He said drum-dried fruits are less likely to brown in baking or frying applications. Potential product formats include bakery items and mixes, cereal, snack items, functional food, pre- and post-workout beverages, nutrition supplements, energy chews and bars, meal replacements and ready-to-drink applications, Mr. Wheeler said.
The Milne MicroDried dehydration process uses low-impact vacuum radiant energy for dehydration, which preserves vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables, according to Milne, Prosser, Wash. The dehydration process heats each piece to reduce the microbial levels in select fruit and vegetable varieties. Milne MicroDried offers fruit and vegetable powders, fragments and whole pieces with no added sugar, colors or preservatives. Potential applications include baked foods, beverages, dairy items and snacks.
Fresh plum concentrate has the consistency of maple syrup, making it easy to use in beverage manufacturing, said Kate Leahy, a spokesperson for Sunsweet Ingredients, a business of Sunsweet Growers, Inc., Yuba City, Calif. It has a tangy sweetness that resembles to the sweetness of tart cherries.
“Its flavor naturally pairs well with a variety of fruit flavors, but it is also neutral enough that it never overpowers,” Ms. Leahy said.
Since the sweetness of fresh plum concentrate comes from sorbitol, a polyol/sugar alcohol that is not processed by the body like sugar, it allows for sugar reduction in a beverage.
“Fresh plum concentrate can perform the same impact in sugar reduction in juice drinks as in beverages because it is also lower in sugar than similar fruit juice concentrates,” Ms. Leahy said. “The concentrate also can draw out flavors of other ingredients, making the other fruit added in a juice taste sweeter. The overall result is a great-tasting juice with less total sugars on the label.”
Dried plum puree, meanwhile, offers benefits in baked foods as well as meat and poultry items like sausages and meatballs.
“It helps bind moisture in baked goods such as brownies or cookies because of the combination of fiber, pectin and sorbitol naturally occurring within the puree,” Ms. Leahy said. “The puree also helps bind moisture in sausages and meatballs, making items taste rich even if the meat is quite lean. For beverages, dried plum puree may work in products where a pulpy texture and dark color is desired.”
Coconut water is an option when reducing sugar in juice blends, according to iTi Tropicals, Lawrenceville, N.J. Coconut water, a clear liquid collected from the interior of the coconut that should not be confused with coconut cream or milk, blends with other juices because it does not compete for color or flavor. It also contributes a smooth mouthfeel, according to the company.
Fruit provides fiber, potassium and vitamin C to the diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, which recommends two-cup-equivalents per day of fruit. More than 70% of Americans are below the recommended level.