Posts Tagged ‘dried fruit’

Dehydrated vs. Freeze Dried Fruit: What You Need To Know

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Swell Dried Apples

Both freeze dried and dehydrated fruits are popular because it extends the life of fruit while allowing for all kinds of interesting applications that would simply not be possible with fresh fruit. However, freeze dried and dehydrated fruit are not created equal! While both start with fresh fruit, the process involved is very different. WiseGeek outlines the processes:

Dehydration involves putting the fruit in a warm environment which causes the water to be removed from the fruit over time. Traditionally this is done by laying cut fruit in the sun or on a warm surface. A more modern technique involves the use of equipment designed to remove the water from the fruit. Crucially no chemicals are added to the fruit nor is it necessary to add sugar. When you take the water out of fruits, the natural sugars become concentrated and the dried fruit will be sweeter than usual. Dehydrated fruits usually have a somewhat pliable texture.

Freeze drying is a more complicated procedure. First the fruit is frozen and put into a vacuum that will gradually extract the water content. Heat is applied such that the frozen fruit thaws quickly while the vacuum extracts the water. Freeze dried fruit retains the taste of fresh fruit but with a crispy texture.

Using unique procedures such as a swell drying process, Ingredient Hotline can provide crispy fruit that is not freeze dried, but instead completely natural: no added oil, acrylamide, fat, salt, sugar or other chemicals.  Contact us if you’d like to learn more about this unique product that allows for new and innovative applications using dried fruit.

Natural Food Expo East 2010 (Boston, MA)

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The show floor is open!

I do enjoy a good trade show and the Natural Expo was one of them (the All Candy and Snack Expo is another).   The Expo East was smaller than ExpoWest but there were a number of interesting things to see and try.

For Expo East, the three top trends that I noticed in the food category were:

1. Gluten-free

There has been a phenomenal rise in gluten-free offerings in recent years.    It would be interesting to compare it with the actual rate of people being diagnosed with gluten-related conditions.   Are gluten-free products healthier?     Alternative, more complex grains to wheat certainly are!   Quinoa, amaranth (or kiwicha) are high in protein and have a wonderful, nutty taste when roasted.     Other flours such as rice, mesquite, oats, tapioca and even coconut flour are great options too.    However, these types of flours are often combined with gums such as xanthan and even pectin to achieve that chewy, moist texture characteristic of wheat breads.

2. Agave Sweeteners

Stevia was the popular topic last year.  However, it is still not officially approved in Canada as an ingredient and it has an unplesant cloying sweetness that lingers even when you don’t want it to.    Should it be considered natural when it has already been bleached and refined?

Best agave packaging with an Agave Cookbook author

Enter Agave,  a by-product of tequila processing.

The taste of agave is more pleasant than stevia and it is also now available in a powder form (Brand Aga-Fit).   Agave is available in many different colours  (clear, dark brown, amber, golden), which can be confusing.     A number of companies claim that blue agave is superior over other types.  But controversy looms in the high content of fructose in the syrup.

3. Fruits everywhere!

Similar to the IFT in Chicago – fruits in many different forms were everywhere!

In the juice category, coconut water was very popular.    I tried each one and there were major differences in flavour.    Coconut water ( at least the coconut water I grew up with)  need to come from young coconuts to get that fresh, clean tasting juice or water as they call it.    If it matures beyond 6 months, that is when the flesh starts to mature and the water develops an unpleasant taste.   The “Zico” and “Taste Nirvana Real Coconut water” brand were the least favourite of mine.    They tasted like juice coming from mature coconuts – mature enough to grate or they could be from concentrate.

Both O.N.E. and Vita Coco were true to the natural source.     I added Naked coconut water in the comparison even if it was not at the show – it also gets top marks from me.     These brands are all unsweetened and unflavoured.

The best combination that I’ve tried of the flavour varieties was the coconut-lychee combination.    This combination was very nostalgic for me.  We use to eat this at  my grandmother’s house for the local fiesta, when they ordered this huge steel vat of sherbet made of young coconut water with the coconut meat, sugar and lychee fruits.  It was a wonderful treat in such hot weather.

Dried fruits have come a long way from the typical syrup infused and sun or air-dried form such as the prune or the raisin.    The drying process has evolved to try to retain colour vibrancy, taste and vitamins.   There come in several forms, shapes, textures and sizes.     Freeze-dried fruits are crispy but to the point where the texture almost feels artificial.   The cost of freeze-dried fruits are also very high.    Swell-dried fruits or “Puffed fruits” combines the air dried fruit with changes in atmospheric pressure to “puff up” the dried fruit.  The effect is a very crispy fruit chip that retains a lot of the flavour and colour without the “freeze-dried” texture or cost.   YogaVive featured their apple chips at the show, their fruits are processed in China.    Please refer to the Ingredient Hotline, Inc. website for the ABCAR-DIC process.  The technology has been applied to several different types of fruits and vegetables with much success.

More exotic fruits from South America and Asia are expected to turn up in the coming shows.  There are still a number of fruits not yet commercialized but are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients.

Penta Water - Patented water??

Patented water?   Hmm, not too sure of that.     It tastes the same as bottled water, wonder if it has the same freezing point.   It was explained to me that their filtration process alters the size of the water molecules, thus making it easier to absorb into the body.     I am still preplexed how a filtration process, which is suppose to be a physical process – how it can possibly cause changes at the atomic level?!

Boston Clam Chowder with Oyster Crackers

A fitting end to a great day of walking the show floor – a hot bowl of authentic Boston clam chowder soup with a side of oyster crackers.