Fruit products can be costly, due to their inconsistency in quality and supply. Although dehydrated fruit products have an extended shelflife, some products do not hold up well under harsh processing.

IMAGIC[r] Imitation Sweet, Flavored Textured Vegetable Proteins or Sweet Analogs are reliable substitutes for dehydrated fruit pieces. Using naturally flavored textured plant proteins (TPP), food technologists at Legacy Foods (Hutchinson, Kan.) were able to mimic the taste and appearance of the sweet and fruity flavors of freeze-dried fruits, with the added benefits of soy protein.

Manufacturers are exploring ways to add soy proteins to their applications because the USDA now allows a health claim suggesting a reduced risk of heart disease for products containing 6.25g of soy protein per serving.

IMAGIC Sweet Analogs have a minimum of 22% protein and less than 1% fat. In addition, the sweet analogs are 100% vegetarian and contain no cholesterol. Allowing for variability in applications, the analogs contain 9%-14% dietary fiber, and also are a rich source of naturally occurring soy isoflavones. Research shows isoflavones to be beneficial in reducing the incidence of breast and prostate cancers.

Unlike with soy isolates, concentrates or even other TPPs, the sweet analogs add more dimension to soy-added applications as they beneficially alter flavor, appearance and texture. “It is a method of introducing soy proteins into a bakery application that is more interesting than just adding soy-based flour,” says Brinda Govindarajan, Legacy Foods' director of R&D.

Moisture retention is another value-added attribute that textured soy proteins bring to the table. “IMAGIC textured soy proteins hold moisture in the product and prevent staling,” explains Govindarajan. “This contributes to an extended shelflife.” The sweetened textured proteins also can be sprinkled as a topping and are very appropriate for the diversification of granola-type bars. In addition to bakery products such as cookies, cereal bars and muffins, the sweet analogs can be added as inclusions to ice creams and yogurts.

The flavors, which include blueberry, chocolate, cinnamon, cranberry, peach, pineapple, raspberry and strawberry, present a unique mechanism by which to inhibit soy flavor. Upon incorporation, flavor formulation may be less challenging, as the sweet analogs become an integral part of the flavor matrix.

The sweet analogs were officially launched July 2004 at the Institute of Food Technologists' annual meeting. “[Sweet Analogs] are very durable, they withstand the process line and they don't get mushy,” says Govindarajan. “There are imitation blueberry bits that are sugar- or starch-based, but those tend to melt and don't hold their shape the way Sweet Analogs can.”

Application scientists at Legacy Foods work at their pilot plant to confidentially optimize customer formulas, offering flexibility from large-scale to small-lot manufacturing. The sweet analogs do not require refrigeration and the recommended shelflife is one year from the date of manufacture (under normal dry storage conditions). However, once hydrated, IMAGIC[r] sweet analogs should be handled like any other high-protein product.

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Legacy Foods LLC, Brinda Govindarajan