Cranberries for Breakfast Cereals, Snacks and Bars
Cranberries are a native North American fruit, firm in texture, crisp and tart in flavor, and naturally bright red in color. Year-round, cranberries are processed into juices, jellies, dried fruits and other products. Cranberries require cool temperatures, as they grow on low-growing vines, in marshes or bogs that can produce for 100 years. Water resources are critical to production for frost protection, harvest method and winter protection. Cranberry crop production areas are in both the Western and Eastern parts of Canada, and also in Wisconsin.

Cranberries were first called ‘crane berry’ by the Pilgrims, because the blossom resembles the head of a crane bird,” explained Kristen Girard, principal scientist at Ocean Spray Cranberries, during a presentation titled, “Cranberries–Your Fruit Solution for Breakfast Cereals, Snacks and Bars,” at Prepared Foods’ 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. The growing season begins in April, and berries are harvested in September and October. Midsummer, every flower must be pollinated by bees in order for the fruit to develop.

Cranberry nutrients include fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, phenolics and organic acids. Cranberries’ high polyphenol content helps fight free radicals that cause cellular damage throughout the body and boost the body’s defenses. They also have high amounts of omega-3 fats, tocotrienols and protein in the seed oil and seed powder. “The proven health benefits of cranberries are from both their anti-adhesion benefits and their broader antioxidant benefits,” explained Girard. “The North American cranberry contains unique A-linked proanthocyanidins (PACs) that have the anti-adhesion mechanism. PACs, commonly known as condensed tannins, attach to certain E. coli bacteria, for example, so the ‘bugs’ do not stick.” This mechanism helps reduce the potential to cause infection, benefiting urinary, dental and gastrointestinal health.

PACs are shaped differently and, among common fruits, only cranberries and wild blueberries contain the A-linkage, which is known to have the anti-adhesion effect. Grapes, strawberries and raspberries have B-linked proanthocyanidins and provide no anti-adhesion effect, noted Girard.

In food applications, cranberry products are used for color, flavor and texture. Their anthocyanins are stable during baking; they are process tolerant and retain piece identity well. Versatile with endless applications, from sweet to savory, cranberries’ high acid and low sugar content provide excellent blending options with other fruits or flavors. The natural red color has an instant appeal in many sizes and shapes, in addition to being one of the world’s healthiest fruits.

In breakfast cereal and snack bars, Girard explains that some fruit can bring issues with moisture transfer, color bleeding, freeze/thaw, fresh spoilage, seasonality, fruit integrity, flavor stability and shelflife. Cranberry-based, sweetened dried fruits allow customized flavor intensity and type; water activity; nutritional attributes; and functional attributes. The nature of the cranberry permits the processor to infuse real fruit juice into it, to develop cranberry-based fruit pieces that deliver the flavor and texture of other fruits, while also being cost-effective, natural, functional, versatile, process tolerant, easy to use, retaining color and shape, with a long shelflife. Available in many fruit flavors, the glycerated products work to prevent moisture migration in three different water activity levels, from 0.39-0.60. The retail market shows the success of cranberries in its assortment of products, ranging from trail mixes to cereal to bars, snacks, cookies, breads, muffins and scones.

Cranberries provide a unique solution to fruit inclusion issues because of their inherent versatility, flavor profile and attractive color. “Thanks to cranberries’ contribution to whole body health, their reliable supply and consumer appeal, there is huge potential to develop exciting, successful and innovative products with cranberries,” summarized Girard. What began as an all-American tradition now has worldwide appeal.

“Cranberries--Your Fruit Solution for Breakfast Cereals, Snacks and Bars,” Kristen Girard, principal scientist, Ocean Spray Cranberries,,  


Creating Cravability with Raisins
Taste, or more formally, gustation, is a form of direct chemoreception and is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances, such as food, certain minerals and poisons. Taste is a sensory function of the central nervous system. The receptor cells for taste in humans are found on the surface of the tongue, along the soft palate, and in the epithelium of the pharynx and epiglottis.

“Human taste sensory organs,” explained Carol Borba, innovation manager at the California Raisin Marketing Board, “are also called taste buds or gustory calyculi and are concentrated on the upper surface of the tongue. Taste buds appear to be receptive to the relatively few chemical species of tastes,” she said, during her speech titled, “Cravability, How to Unlock an Ancient Ingredient’s Power,” given during the 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. This contrasts markedly with the sense of olfaction (smell), where very large numbers of chemicals can be differentiated. Five tastes are known to be sensed by taste buds: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami. Combinations of these basic tastes provide balance in foods and beverages.

At Cyrus Restaurant in Sonoma Valley, guests are presented with a “Senses Tasting Tower.” The tasting tower helps guests warm up their palates by tasting sweet honey comb, bitter endive salad, sour ceviche, salty hand-cut potato chips and umami in dashi broth.

The function of taste is to encourage eating through pleasure. Sugars and fat are the biggest pleasure tastes. Taste ensures proper nutritive ingestion, such as essential fatty acids, proteins and vitamin C. Some bitter compounds in foods are poisonous toxins.

“Awareness of all food product attributes will enable one to more thoroughly evaluate any food product,” Borba said. The detection of subtle nuances between similar products is possible, providing the ability to appreciate the other important attributes that enhance flavor and overall eating quality. Applying this attention to detail is a distinct competitive advantage, as is creating “cravability” or excitement for a food.

Borba explained that raisins are versatile, with the ability to enhance foods with sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami tastes. California raisins make up almost 50% of the world’s production, or 340,000 tons, on average. There are about 3,500 California Raisin growers, representing 99.9% of the U.S. production. Two thirds of the crop is consumed by the U.S. and Canada, and the other third is exported globally. Raisins are solar-processed--dehydrated or transformed from grapes with energy from the sun. Using no chemical sprays, they leave a small carbon footprint, from the mainly small family farms that have been in business for generations growing and processing raisins.

Nutritional highlights of raisins include their high ORAC antioxidant unit scores, at 3,037 ORAC units in 2.5oz or about .66-cup. They deliver potassium and fiber, including inulin, to promote digestive health. One serving of fruit is consumed in 0.25-cup raisins. In one 18-week study, one serving a day of raisins helped lower LDL cholesterol and its oxidation in people with high LDL levels. Raisins are also low in sodium and naturally fat- and cholesterol-free.

Useful for texture and fat replacement, California Raisins are plump, fresh-tasting and have a soft “chew” that mimics fat and richness. Raisins act as fat replacers in baked goods, without the addition of significant amounts of water. They also offer pleasant chewiness in a wide range of products. They are not gritty and typically are free from large sugar crystals. California Raisins function well in fat-free baked goods, cookies and cakes. At the same moisture content, California Raisins generally have a lower water activity than other dried vine fruits because of their intact skin and fructose and glucose content. This prevents migration of moisture to or from other ingredients.

Raisins have great emulsification properties in vinaigrettes and other preparations. Their sugars create a firm texture that helps bind dry ingredients in foods like bars, snacks, cookies and desserts. Raisins’ versatility and functional benefits open up opportunities in a wide variety of foods.

“Cravability: How to Unlock an Ancient Ingredient’s Power,” Carol Borba, innovation manager, California Raisin Marketing Board. For questions, contact Rick O’Fallon, director of marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board,

Beneficial Fruits and Vegetables
Consumers truly believe fruits and vegetables are healthy, as they naturally provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants (especially from colorful fruits and vegetables). However, consumers demand consistency in quality, as well as nutritional benefits; they require a usable form of product that is functional for their needs. Also important are price stability and large volumes.

This consistency and stability often can be obtained and enhanced in food products by using standardized ingredient solutions. Standardized fruit and vegetable products are made by growing colorful fruits and vegetables only for key benefits, so they are harvested and processed at optimal levels, explained Jeannette O’Brien, key account manager at GNT USA, in her speech titled, “The Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables,” presented at Prepared Foods’ 2008 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. For example, a non-selective extraction using no chemical solvents or preservatives is used to standardize for antioxidant content; the standardized ingredient can be utilized as a key component in formulated products.

Standardized ingredients also are available as blends of fruits and vegetables, because consumers demand variety. Again, a non-selective extraction with water and only physical processes, plus concentration and blending, produce the variety consumers desire, in a colorful array of healthy ingredients. Furthermore, said O’Brien, fruit and vegetable extracts can be used to attract consumers; influence acceptability; enhance antioxidant and flavor profiles; deliver ORAC values; provide a healthy and natural appearance to products; or enhance the ingredient statement.

When using extracts, O’Brien suggested making a pre-dilution; for example, 1:10 for small volume applications is recommended, adding acids first. The color of anthocyanin products is pH-dependent. At a pH of less than 4.0, a red color is yielded, and, at above pH 4.0, the color shifts from red to blue-indigo. Carotenoid products are independent of pH.

Standardized fruit and vegetable extracts can be used in many applications, including baked goods, confections, beverages, dry blends, ice cream, energy bars, cereals, yogurt, syrups and fruit preparations. In beverages, typical dosage levels fall between 0.03-0.25%. Evaluation through sensory (taste, appearance and mouthfeel), ORAC analysis and antioxidant profile is warranted for product development.

Processes using pasteurization, HTST, UHT or hot fill work well when the extracts are added at the last possible step in processing. If loss occurs during processing, it is recommended to increase the dosage by 10-20%, working closely with the supplier for special processing requirements. It is always important to perform stability testing in the product system and packaging and to consider the targeted shelflife of the product, storage conditions, whether the product is shelf-stable or refrigerated, light and oxygen exposure, and other ingredients.

Consumers should know there is no RDI for anthocyanins, but statements explaining the function of the ingredient used may be acceptable. Examples could include “infused with phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables,” or “anthocyanins and carotenoids have antioxidant properties which help protect against free radical damage,” or “in addition to eating fruits and vegetables, consuming [name of standardized ingredient] can help you get the antioxidants your body needs.”

Suppliers can work as R&D partners for formula optimization of antioxidants, flavor, color and ORAC value, suggested O’Brien. Important supplier considerations are base producers, customized application assistance, consistent pricing, meeting volume requirements, customer service and establishing a long-term business partnership.

“The Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables,” Jeannette O’Brien, key account manager, GNT USA, 914-524-0600,,

Avoid Oxidative Rancidity with Tocopherols
Oxidative rancidity in food can cause changes in color, flavor and texture, along with undesirable odor, and the destruction of vitamins A, C, D and E. A loss of essential fatty acids can occur, along with formation of unwanted oxidation products. Oxidative rancidity is increased by factors such as exposure to oxygen; a high peroxide concentration already present in fats and oils; heat, light, metal catalysts like iron or copper; pigments, such as hemoglobin or chlorophyll; or enzymes like lipoxygenase. “The reaction is initiated by the formation of hydroperoxides and the production of free radicals, the latter being the more critical initiation process,” explained Jessica Zielinski, applications scientist at Cognis--Nutrition and Health, during her presentation titled, “Protecting Your Product From Oxidative Rancidity Using Mixed Tocopherols,” given during the 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago.

Antioxidants work to prevent oxidative rancidity, by interfering with free radical formation. Antioxidants donate hydrogen atoms to scavenge fatty-free radicals and reform fat molecules. Antioxidants terminate propagation of free radicals and stabilize fats from oxidative rancidity.

Zielinski states that controlling oxidation can be accomplished by using high-quality oils, low temperature storage, opaque packaging, chelating agents, inert atmosphere, oxygen scavengers, hydrogenation, adding antioxidant-free radical scavengers or hydrogen donors. Synthetic antioxidants are widely used but are being scrutinized, because natural products are in higher demand.  

Tocopherols are GRAS, when used as nutrients or preservatives in food, the only restriction being good manufacturing practices according to 21 CFR parts 182.8890, 182.8892 and 182.3890; they are approved for use in foods worldwide. Tocopherols are approved for use in meats by USDA at 300ppm based on fat content, or 100ppm with citric acid. For poultry, USDA allows 300ppm based on fat content.

According to Zielinski, tocopherols are label-friendly and can be stated in a variety of ways; for example: “(mixed tocopherols (vitamin E added to preserve freshness).” Mixed tocopherols provide a sustainable plant source of antioxidants, with comparable protection against oxidative rancidity in fats and oils to synthetic antioxidants. They have low volatility, so can be added early in the process and offer a marketing advantage, due to their regulatory status. They are fat-soluble and water-dispersible.

Tocopherols are not antimicrobial and do not prevent mold or reverse oxidation that has already occurred. Tocopherols have application in baked goods, cereals, citrus oils, egg products, fried noodles, lard, lecithins, mineral oil, nuts, pet food, potato flakes, tuna fillets, and vegetable and fish oils; they can be used in virtually any application where lipid oxidation is of concern.  

The application dictates the form (whether dry or liquid) and concentration level. Processing parameters should also be considered, along with packaging, distribution and shelflife. Use level is typically 100-400ppm for low-risk products and 400-800ppm for high-risk items. To choose a level, Zielinski advises beginning with three different levels that seem appropriate for the product type and then determining the most effective method to evaluate the samples over time. The data will help set the appropriate usage for a specific formulation.

“Protecting Your Product From Oxidative Rancidity Using Mixed Tocopherols,” Jessica Zielinski, applications scientist, Cognis Nutrition and Health,,