Raspberries will be first fruit used in project to utilizemicrowave technology that will make dehydration a lot more efficient.
By Judie Steeves
erry growers may soon have a new value-added marketing option available to them. A Burnaby company has received government assistance in its effort to develop an on-site berry drying process which will not require that farmers be technologists to use it. Greg Stromotich, chief executive officer of NuWave Research Inc., says they are working to adapt existing freeze-drying-type technology for a commercial application: a mobile piece of equipment that would fit into a 40- foot container that’s eight feet by eight feet.
Fruit such as raspberries could be processed into a higher-value product that would be easy to ship, versatile in its end uses and would make good use of the lower-value components of the crop. Such dried raspberries could be used in cereals, bakery products (where there would not be the bleeding of berry colour that occurs with fresh or frozen product) and
snacks, with no loss of nutrients and with more intense flavour and colour.
“We can produce an end product that is either chewy or crispy in texture. It doesn’t have to be spongy as freeze-dried products often are, because with freeze drying, ice crystals are formed and they then dry out,” Stromotich explained.
The end product requires no
refrigeration, which simplifies both storage and shipping and it is much lighter to ship as well, and far less fragile than fresh berries.
to mobile drying system
Stromotich said the equipment will demonstrate the commercial feasibility of using waves of radiant energy to remove water and stabilize food at the farm. “This will result in new, highly-functional food products that can be sold worldwide.”
The process is complicated technology, said Stromotich, but it removes the water without heating up the product, similar to freeze-drying.
Mobile Continuous Microwave Drying could also be adapted for other fruits such as apples and grapes as well as other berries, he said.
This comes as the snack industry is trying to move away from high-sugar, high- fat snacks, in reaction to demand from consumers and parent groups, he noted, so it’s a good opportunity to create a new market for fruit snacks to replace those.
Nuwave will receive $120,000 to develop the new raspberry drying process under the Canada-B.C.
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British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall 2012 13
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