Published in The World of Food Ingredients, June 2012
Adding fruit can present significant technical challenges, particularly in dry foods such as cereals, baked goods and snacks, where any additional moisture poses a threat to the texture and shelf life of the finished product. A solution now exists to this problem, however. Taura Natural Ingredients’ tailored fruit and vegetable-based ingredient solutions eliminate moisture transfer in a whole range of dry foods, enabling companies to develop novel products that include a wide variety of fruit pieces, flakes, pastes and fillings.
Taura uses Ultra Rapid Concentration (URC) technology to concentrate fruit purées and blends to below 10% moisture in less than 60 seconds. This proprietary process relies on physical and mechanical forces to remove the water, so it’s suitable for heat-sensitive fruits. None of the fruit sugars are caramelized and the resulting concentrate retains the flavor, color and nutritional characteristics of the raw materials. This process offers a range of technical advantages, but one of its key benefits is that the resulting ingredients have extremely low levels of water activity, which can be matched to the final product. Water activity – as opposed to water content – is a measure of how tightly any water is bound within the structure of an overall ingredient matrix. It controls microbial spoilage as well as chemical and physical stability, which are all essential for a long shelf life.
A water activity of below 0.7 is dry enough to be microbiologically stable, while 0.35 is as dry as fat. Taura’s URC ingredients exhibit a water activity of between 0.65 and 0.35. In practice, this means that the resulting finished foods enjoy a shelf life of 18 months and that crunchy and crispy foods will maintain their texture – even when they include soft fruit pieces, layers or fillings.
This extremely low water activity is due to the fact that the water is bound up in fibers within the structure of the URC ingredients. Taura’s ingredients can be formulated to maximize the water binding characteristics for a range of product types and formats. These include ultra dry pastes that create soft, real fruit fillings with a water activity of just 0.35.
Moisture control is not the only technical benefit offered by URC ingredients. They’re also highly bake-stable. Fruit-based ingredients aimed at baked goods require controlled brix and water activity levels to prevent them burning or liquefying during the baking process. URC fruit pieces and pastes feature a pectin gel structure that won’t burn or boil-out, so the texture remains soft and non-sticky after cooking. It also stands up extremely well to physical processing, including pumping, extrusion and filling. For companies looking to tap into the latest trends with new fruit-based products, these technical benefits add up to a major NPD opportunity. For example, ultra dry pastes can be used to deliver a soft fruit filling in extremely challenging products such as wafers or sandwich biscuits, or as a fruit-based centre in crispy co-extruded cereal pillows. Taura’s portfolio of ingredients ranges from 100% fruit-derived material with no added sugar to indulgent flavor concepts.
The URC process can handle flavor blends, natural extracts and a range of fortification options – which means that manufacturers can respond quickly and tap into the very latest trends in healthy eating as they emerge.