16 Jan 2019
According to a global research study (Taste Tomorrow, 2018), fruits are perceived by consumers as the best ingredients to bring both taste and healthiness to sweet goods, and fruit fillings are no exception. Fruit fillings offer similar qualities that fruits have – taste, naturalness and health. And when it comes to fruit fillings, consumers want more visible fruit and bigger pieces in each application they consume.
In addition, they are increasingly looking for products made naturally and free from certain ingredients, such as artificial flavours and colours, added sugars and genetically modified ingredients. Offering products that are clean label is becoming the standard that both customers and consumers are looking for.
So when it comes to fruit fillings, can great taste, keeping the original shape and texture of the fruits and having a clean label all be achieved, and if so how? We asked Alicia Di Filippo, our R&D expert in fruit fillings, this question.
Nothing is more disappointing than biting into a fruit-filled pastry to find only mushy fruit or mostly slurry. The overall wholeness of the fruit pieces in terms of shape, texture and structure can be defined as fruit integrity. Fruit integrity is highly valued by consumers but can be challenging to maintain when making fruit fillings. For this reason, when developing a fruit filling, it all starts with the sourcing of the fruits; however, in our Canadian climate, we do not have access to fresh fruit from the harvest all year round. When fresh fruit is not easily accessible, frozen fruits are a good alternative. Alicia goes on to explain that the next best solution is to use Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) fruits. “These fruits are quickly frozen at their peak ripeness to preserve the goodness of the fruit. Freezing quickly creates small ice crystals, which limits the damage the sharp ice crystals could do, and is important in maintaining great fruit integrity once the fruit is thawed.”
Another important factor that helps to maintain great fruit integrity is the way the fruit is processed on the production line. Minimally processing the fruit on the right equipment during the cooking process is key so that it can retain its structure within the filling. Alicia says: “The use of steam kettles that have horizontal mixing instead of the typical sweep-scraping vertical agitation helps to reduce the shear stress on the fruits and mimics a gentle folding action of cooking a small batch of filling in a pot on a stovetop.”
Alicia adds, “Also, using gravity to move the filling instead of several pumps and limiting the pipe length and elbows that it has to travel from the kettle to the bucket will reduce further damage to the delicate fruit pieces once the filling is cooked.” By selecting the right fruits and gentle processing equipment, we can avoid the disappointment of a mushy fruit filling in a sweet good and can expect crunchy apple slices or full, juicy cherries when biting into our next slice of pie.
“When it comes to clean label, fruit fillings do not need to have a complicated ingredient declaration,” explains Alicia. “High quality fruit fillings should start with the best-selected fruits and the other ingredients should only help to highlight their natural goodness.” However, working with natural ingredients presents some challenges: fruits vary from crop to crop and need to be evaluated on a yearly basis to optimize what the current harvest has to offer.
“In order to provide consistent quality, natural colours and flavours are used to enhance the bright visual appeal and fresh flavour. Natural colours come from fruits and vegetables, ingredients that look friendly on a label and harness the colouring power of nature,” explains Alicia.
So yes, when it comes to fruit fillings, great taste, integrity and clean label can be achieved!
At Puratos, we have developed an expertise over the years in being able to formulate and process our fruit fillings in line with consumers’ needs. We have invested heavily in the right equipment and engineered our production process in such a way to ensure maximum fruit integrity for our fruit filling production. Using consumer insights as well as the advice from an R&D expert in fruit fillings, Puratos has created Topfil, a delicious range of cleaner label fruit fillings that only uses the best-selected fruits.
Alicia has worked for Puratos for over 6 years focusing on the research and development of fillings and decorations for sweet goods. She has a BSc (Hons) Food Science Coop from the University of Guelph.
Feel free to reach out to one of the Puratos Sales team members if you want to find out more about our filling expertise and capabilities.