It’s not always easy to improve the nutritional profiles of many snacks and baked foods. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into bakery formulations, for instance, requires some adjustment of operating methods. For example, bean powders should be pre-pasted and dried fruits soaked, or rehydrated, before addition to the dough. If put in dry, both types of ingredients absorb water and prevent the dough from reaching optimum absorption.

“In the case of bean powders, pre-pasting will help adjust for correct flow and texture, as well as aid in minimizing competition from other ingredients for water or from having too much opportunity to hydrate,” said Mark Floerke, bakery applications specialist, ADM, Decatur, IL. There is also the question of when to add bean powders. Depending on the product being made, these powders may need to be added late in the process, or they can be creamed with the fat to coat the particles and form an absorption barrier.

Raisins need to be soaked for 10 to 15 minutes before adding them to the mix, recommended Larry Blagg, senior vice-president of marketing, California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, CA. “Additionally, it is always good to add whole raisins near the very end of the dough preparation process, usually two or three minutes before the end of mixing and at low speed,” he said. This procedure prevents raisins from being torn apart, which could discolor the crumb of the finished product.

Dried fruits do save prep time, requiring no peeling, cutting or additional heating, according to Nirmal Sinha, PhD, vice-president, R&D, Graceland Fruit, Inc., Frankfort, MI. He recommended soaking them in a 1:1 ratio of fruit to water for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature before adding them to batters or doughs. “In our view, they do not require any change in processing conditions, but we advise the formulators to test our products in their formulation to determine any specific processing and handling requirements,” he said.

Ocean Spray’s sweetened dried cranberries (SDCs), however, do not require pre-soaking, nor do they absorb moisture over time, said Kristen Girard, principal food scientist, Ocean Spray ITG, Lakeview-Middleboro, MA. “SDCs are highly process tolerant and retain piece identity without color bleed. To formulate with SDCs, manufacturers need only mix into the dough, as with other fruits commonly used in bakery.”

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