As the most consumed snack food in the United States, it is no surprise that fresh fruit is also the fastest growing. In the August issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Senior Editor Don Pszczola describes how the popularity of this snack led the food industry to create new ways of eating traditional fruit as well as introduce new and exotic fruits to the market. These new innovations provide flavorful snacks that are both healthy and functional.
The blueberry, a popular fruit full of antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals and chronic diseases, and also a source of fiber and vitamin C, continues to be reinvented. Rather than just staples such as blueberry pie, this fruit's use is continuing to evolve as new products show up on grocery store shelves, like blueberry infused salsas and barbeque sauces, blueberry beef jerky, blueberry flavored pet foods, and various beverages such as green teas, sports drinks and coffee flavors. According to a University of Florida study, blueberry wine may provide more potentially healthy compounds than many red and white wines.
In addition to reinventing fruits Americans already know and love, food companies are introducing new fruits from around the world. The following are just a few examples:
- Jackfruit is a tree-borne fruit from South Asia that when ripe, tastes sweet and juicy with hints of pineapple and melon flavors. Young jackfruit tastes similar to hearts of palm, artichoke or green bananas. It is low in carbohydrates while providing potassium, iron, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Chicozapote is found in Mexico, South America and South Asia. It tastes sweet and fruity with nutty undertones; it's often described as a cross between a pear and a fig. The flavor works well in a number of products, including frozen desserts, smoothies and fruit fillings.
- The Arctic raspberry and lingonberry are both grown in Scandinavia. The Arctic raspberry tastes similar to the raspberry with earthy and raisiny notes. The lingonberry, sometimes called a superfruit, tastes sweet with flavors similar to cranberry, cherry and ripe berry. Both of these Scandinavian berries could be used in beverages and fruit spreads.
Innovations in the way consumers eat fruit are not limited to the fresh variety. Whole fruit and vegetable powder is a new ingredient form that could replace liquid, drum-dried, spray-dried or freeze-dried products. The powder is made by using infrared light to evaporate water molecules in fruits and vegetables without disturbing their enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients. The low moisture content and solidity of the powder gives it a long shelf life and provides food scientists with the opportunity to both improve existing food and create new products.
Read the full Food Technology article here.
Explore further: Sailing against prevailing winds, spotting big islands: Calculating how the Pacific was settled