by Wayne Lutomski, Vice President International & Welch’s Global Ingredients Group

There’s no denying the appeal of fresh fruit, but for many formulations, using dried, dehydrated, or otherwise moisture-reduced fruits are the better solution—especially with fruits such as grapes that have a high juice level. Still, for the fruit to retain the flavor, color, and health components of fresh, the water extraction must be done right. 

Grapes are rich in healthful nutrients, especially Concord and Niagara grapes grown domestically. They are true American superfruits. The Concord grape is a distinctive dark purple grape variety with a sweet bold flavor. Its cousin, the Niagara grape, is a white grape with a golden hue that delivers a sophisticated flavor profile praised as crisp, sweet, light, and refreshing.

For 150 years, the goodness of these two grape varieties was largely restricted to a juice bottle. However, Welch’s developed its new FruitWorx pieces to bring the great flavor and nutritious goodness of these grapes to prepared food formulations. FruitWorx, by Welch’s Global Ingredients Group, are Concord and Niagara grape pieces designed for snack and bakery applications.

FruitWorx inclusions were developed in partnership with Taura Natural Ingredients Inc. The unique URC® (Ultra Rapid Concentration) technology removes the water content from juice concentrates and grape purées in a very short period of time, maintaining the fruit’s flavor, color, and nutritional integrity. The result is versatile, real fruit pieces that deliver the goodness of fruit and the delicious flavor for which Welch’s grapes are famous. The resulting low water activity level is designed specifically to be used in the baking process to bring real, 100% fruit to the consumer through inclusion in a baked good.

American consumers today expect the fruit ingredients used in their foods to be authentically delicious and nutritious. But the challenge when using real fruit in packaged bakery and snack applications is delivering an experience that’s close to the fresh fruit’s taste. Fresh fruit itself is rarely an option, for reasons related to shelflife and the risk of spoilage.

Real fruit has traditionally presented a significant technical challenge in the snack foods and bakery category. In dry products such as cookies and snack bars, for example, introducing any additional moisture to the recipe poses a threat to the texture and shelf life of the finished product. This means it’s important to choose fruit ingredients that will mitigate moisture transfer.

But it’s not the absolute moisture content that determines whether an ingredient can be used successfully in dry applications; rather, the crucial parameter is water activity, the measure of the ability of water to migrate from a fruit ingredient into the surrounding food matrix. It’s important to ensure the water activity of any fruit ingredients is in the acceptable range for an application.

Using fresh fruit in cake and muffin applications, in which moistness is usually desirable, presents other challenges. Chief among these is the leaching of color into the body of the product during baking. You can reduce this by using fruit ingredients like FruitWorx that will retain color throughout the manufacturing processes.

URC technology concentrates the grape juice and purée to about 10% moisture in under 60 seconds. The process also can be readily adjusted to yield inclusions with water activity levels customized to suit a range of applications.

The URC process, due to its rapid removal of water, also preserves much of the goodness of the fruits. Both Concord and Niagara grapes contain natural plant antioxidants called polyphenols. In fact, Concord FruitWorx have more than twice the polyphenol content as the leading brand of sweetened dried cranberries and three times the polyphenols as the leading brand of raisins. The URC process protects the flavor of the fruit, delivering close to the real fruit taste.

Concord and Niagara grapes combine authentically great taste and polyphenol-powered nutrition with a reasonable price, setting them apart from other superfruits. This is due in some part to the chemistry of the fruit. Concord and Niagara grapes contain naturally occurring sugars in combination with tartaric and malic acids, creating a balanced flavor profile. Additionally, the polyphenols found in the grapes contribute to their natural nutrition benefits. In fact, about 20 years of research confirms that Concord grape juice helps support a healthy heart. Together, the trio of taste, nutrition, and value makes Concord and Niagara grape-based ingredients a step above the rest.

About Welch’s Global Ingredients Group

Established in 2014 as a division of Welch’s Food Inc., Welch’s Global Ingredients Group offers grape juice expertise and solutions to companies across the globe. Our primary ingredients include single-strength juices, concentrates, purées, powders and fruit bites. Our sales territories are North, Central and South America; Asia, with special emphasis in Japan, Korea and China; and EMEA. In EMEA and China we operate through our distribution partner, WILD.

Welch’s is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Located across America and in Ontario, Canada, the cooperative’s approximately 900 family farmers own the company and grow the delicious and inherently healthy Concord Grape used in Welch’s juices and other grape-based products. Welch’s is committed to research and development that will meet the growing demand for products that address consumers’ health and nutrition needs. Welch’s products are sold throughout the United States and in approximately 40 countries around the globe. Welch’s is an Equal Opportunity Employer – Minorities/Female/Disabled/Veterans. 

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