Freeze drying could unlock the potential of red berries and citrus fruits as decorations and inclusions in chocolate while preserving the color and nutrients of the fruit, says supplier Chaucer Foods.
The UK-based firm told ConfectioneryNews that many fruits such as strawberries and oranges were not previously suitable in chocolate confectionery due to a high water content that reduces shelf life.
Chaucer Foods claims freeze drying extracts almost all of the water content and preserves the color and nutrients of the fruit opening up fresh possibilities for manufacturers.
‘Growth sector of the future’
“Freeze dried fruit has gradually been emerging in confectionery applications in recent years,” Richard Ilsley, group sales director at Chaucer Foods told this site.
UK premium confectionery retailer Hotel Chocolat for example uses freeze dried fruit for its Raspberry Riot Slab.
“We see the use of freeze dry becoming more interesting to confectionery manufacturers. We see this as one of the growth sectors of the future,” said Richard Brewer, director of marketing for Chaucer Foods.
Real fruit claim
Fruit is typically added to chocolate as an air dried product, such as the dried apricots and raisins you see on supermarket shelves.
Ilsley said that some air dried products such as banana chips can be flavoured, fried and may contain preservatives, whereas a freeze dried version is entirely natural and allows a chocolate maker to claim they are using “real fruit”.
The company said that nutrients are also maintained after freeze drying.
The firm conducted an unpublished study in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, which found that Vitamin C content, phenolic content and antioxidant activity were all preserved after the low temperature process.
Color and feel
The company claims that freeze dried fruits maintain a fresh flavor and bright color. “It won’t feel like a fruit. It will be dry and slightly crispy,” said Brewer.
“Freeze drying concentrates the flavor so it can be even more intense,” added Isley.
“It’s a very natural type flavor,” continued Brewer. “Strawberry is strawberry – all we’ve done is taken out water - all other components are there.”
The options for freeze dried fruits in confectionery range from enrobing whole or large fruit pieces in chocolate, to using small fruit pieces as inclusions in bars or tablets, or even adding freeze-dried fruit powders in fondant creams inside chocolate.
The fruits are added much like any other inclusion such as nuts. They require no special shipping requirements and are not sensitive to moderate heat. The typical shelf-life for a freeze dried fruit is around 12 months, similar to chocolate.
The company said that strawberry was proving its most popular offering.