The Variegate Show
The food technologists at Degussa Fruit and Flavor Systems (Langhorne, Pa.) have the task of using their Sweet Ovations line of fruit ingredients to create frozen desserts that are out-of-this-world. The list of flavors includes citrus, tropical and berry items. These—along with chocolate, coconut, coffee, honey and nuts—are mixed and swirled into frozen desserts to create fantastic treats.
The Overloaded Banana Split, for example, starts with vanilla and banana ice cream that is swirled with Chocolate Fudge Marble and Chunky Strawberry Marble variegates and inclusions of bananas and almonds.
Each ice cream company has its own signature ice cream mixes. Mixes range from super-premiums, which have high fat levels, to low-fat and fat-free mixes. Sweetener systems include sugar systems, sorbitol or high-intensity sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose.
“The fat level affects flavor,” says Clara Glaza, project leader for ice cream. “With high fat levels you need more intense flavor.”
Degussa Fruit and Flavor Systems supplies the base that is added to the ice cream mix. The base includes flavor, color and stabilizers. Afterward, the mixture goes into the freezer and emerges the texture of soft ice cream. The variegate is then pumped in, and the fruit and other inclusions are added by a fruit feeder. Then the ice cream is frozen to 0º F.
“The quicker the freeze, the smaller the ice crystals, and the better the ice cream tastes,” says Lori Behm, product manager, frozen desserts. “Variegates must have a good melt point, because you don't want to bite into ice crystals.” Variegates, which are fluid systems, have the viscosity of thick syrup, and have their own fat and stabilizer systems.
Fruit variegates, whose main ingredient is IQF fruit, come in a variety of presentations. For example, strawberries can be whole, halved, sliced or diced. Stabilizers, colors and flavors are added, as well as sweeteners.
“We add sweetener to the fruit mix to raise the Brix,” says Glaza. “With a low Brix, the fruit is icy. A higher Brix depresses the freezing point. When we formulate, the way it freezes is similar to ice cream.” Consumers should find that the fruit is easy to bite.
Among Featured Flavor concepts for 2003 are Cran-Orange Calypso Sorbet featuring peach orange sorbet swirled with cranberry sorbet, and Melon Apple Blast, a green apple sorbet swirled with watermelon sorbet. The flavors of Hawaii say “Aloha” in Pineapple Sunrise Ice Cream, a pineapple grapefruit ice cream with a pink Grapefruit Marble and white chocolate covered Macadamia Nut Clusters. A flavor that invokes the spirit of the Bahamas is Bahamian Banana Ice Cream, with its banana and honey-flavored ice cream swirled with Chocolate Fudge Marble and Caramelized Banana Fruit Feeder. Sophisticated diners might enjoy Spiced Pear Ice Cream with its poached pear base, pear fruit feeder swirled with Spice Marble and topped with candied ginger pieces.
At the end of 2002, trends included bakery type concepts like apple pie, according to Behm. Acceptance of international concepts is adding new flavors, and mint flavors are an emerging trend. One of the most unusual concepts the company has executed is an avocado ice cream base with two variegates and tropical fruit feeders.
Sidebar: New DigsThe city of Philadelphia was the site of the recent dedication of Degussa Fruit System's new headquarters and production facility. The building consolidates the company's management, R&D, production, technical support and customer service areas under one roof, helping its customers understand all aspects of the company's single-source solutions.
The facility's 150 employees produce Fruit Systems offerings in the 150,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art production plant that produces yogurts, frozen desserts, doughnuts, flavored coffees, cottage cheese, pie and pastry fillings, milk shakes, smoothies, syrups and toppings.
The company is a leading supplier of yogurt fruit preparations in the U.S. and a major supplier of sweet and fruit ingredients to market segments such as refrigerated dairy, frozen desserts, baked goods and foodservice.