Dried and True: Sweetened dried cranberries

by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
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Naturally tart meets naturally sweet, and the result — fruit-sweetened dried cranberries — appeals well to rising consumer interest in fruit-based ingredients. In July, Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group (ITG), Lakeville-Middleboro, MA, introduced the latest edition of its sweetened dried cranberries (SDCs), now made with pineapple syrup, rather than sugar. The new version offers the same processing advantages as the company’s regular Soft & Moist SDCs, while removing the need to call out sugar as an ingredient.

“This latest addition to our ingredient portfolio is based on consumer demand for ingredients with all-fruit appeal,” said Marion Burton, marketing manager.

SWEET NEED. Sweetening makes cranberries palatable. Harvested from the bogs in which they grow, raw cranberries contain little sugar. The fruit’s characteristic pucker comes from its naturally high content of astringent tannins, plus malic and citric acids along with quinic acid, unique to cranberries among all other fruits. In fact, cranberry juice must be sweetened to make it drinkable.

Cranberries are available for commercial use as frozen raw whole berries, concentrates, purees and powders. SDCs, however, are the most adaptable form for bakery and snack formulations. They retain their shape, color and flavor after baking even in processintensive products such as bagels and cookies and don’t bleed into dough or crumb.

Ocean Spray prepares SDCs using a patented process that produces a variety of cranberry products with moisture levels to meet customers’ needs. Fruit is the most recent addition to sweetener choices for these adaptable ingredients. When making SDCs for use in low-moisture foods such as RTE breakfast cereals, glycerin is used in addition to sugar. (Ocean Spray’s consumer brand for SDCs is Craisins.)

POMEGRANATE, TOO. This year, Ocean Spray ITG launched another flavor in its BerryFusions Fruits line: pomegranate. Described as having a “contemporary and distinct taste” pomegranate joins strawberry, raspberry, cherry, blueberry and mango styles.

“We’ve seen demand for different flavors grow as consumers have become more receptive to new and different tastes,” said Kristen Borsari, director of marketing. “Our existing flavors cater to traditional tastes, but the more exotic pomegranate was a logical choice … combining tradition and heritage with innovation and a forward-thinking approach.”

Because of their porous, spongelike structure, cranberries are a natural vehicle for delivering flavor, and the acid present in the cranberry brings out other flavors. The patented SDC process also enables infusion of flavors. The resulting BerryFusions pieces provide an alternative to the named fruit or other fruit imitators. The pieces deliver taste, texture and distinctive points of color, without the processing challenges associated with raw or other dried fruits. Presoaking is not required, and the pieces do not absorb moisture over time. They retain their piece identity, will not bleed and are stable in pricing and supply.

Ocean Spray ITG is part of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., a grower-owned cooperative comprising more than 600 cranberry and citrus growers across America and Canada. The new fruit-sweetened SDCs and pomegranate BerryFusions, along with other industrial cranberry ingredients, are described at the company’s new Web site, www.oceansprayitg.com.


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