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California raisins: a lot more than meets the eye.

IN THE UNITED STATES, California raisins can be found in over 1,000 food products, many of which do not even say "raisin" on the label! California raisins are found in fat-free baked goods, meat Sauces, ice cream cones, candies, microwaveable entrees, breakfast cereals, pitta breads, kids' frozen dinners and hundreds of other products. in the United Kingdom, the total number of new products containing dried vine fruits launched in 1992 was 31: a 7% increase over 1991. This compares with a total increase for all new product introductions of only 2.8% during the same period, and indicates that raisin usage increased 2-3 times faster than the industry average. If you thought raisin usage was restricted to raisin bread, it might be time to take a second look at one of the most versatile, all-natural ingredients available to the food industry and discover why hundreds of manufacturers around the world are capitalizing on California raisins' quality and functionality!

Documented Benefits

Research conducted by the California Raisin Advisory Board in the United States (in collaboration with groups such as the American Institute of Baking) as well as abroad (such as with the Leatherhead Food R.A. in the United Kingdom) documented over 20 functional advantages and properties for California raisins. The results? California raisins are used in virtually every food category with success; and, manufacturers who use California raisins (rather than dried vine fruits from other sources) claim lower quality control costs, production costs, and higher consumer satisfaction by using this high quality, multifunctional ingredient. Consumer demand for "lighter-more nutritious-more natural-more convenient" food products is presenting new challenges to the food industry. Discover now how manufacturers are using a very small ingredient to help them solve some large problems!

California Raisins Free Up the Fat

Fat-free is the latest craze for new products. In 1992 over 13,000 new food products were produced in the United States, and a large portion of these were fat-free or lite products! Me trend is spreading to Europe and, in particular, in the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the government provided the major stimulus with the release of two reports in 1983 and 1984 that advised consumers to reduce their fat intake by 25%. Since then, the growth rates have been impressive. The low-fat food market in the UK is worth over 1.7 billion [pounds].

Bakery products were some of the first items to be offered in the fat-free format and have proven to be highly successful items. Consumers may have fat phobia and calorie panic, but bakery foods suppliers ingeniously find new ways to combine self-indulgence and self-control through the use of new ingredients in traditional products. Fat replacers such as gums and modified food starches work well but most do not qualify as natural ingredients, manufacturers are looking for fat-replacers that perform more than one functional role in California raisin paste, which is made exclusively from California raisins (and is a 100% natural ingredient) offers a unique and simple way of fulfilling these needs.

California raisin paste can replace fat because it provides texture and mouthfeel in the product which mimics that found in fat-based products. Bakers and manufacturers who currently use butter, margarine and oil can substitute raisin paste on a kilo-for-kilo basis in selected formulations to achieve significant reduction of the total fat content of the product. Tests performed with California raisin paste have shown that slight modifications such as adding non-fat milk if the dough is too watery or adding water if the dough is too stiff, may be necessary with some products. Some of the most successful applications of raisin paste in fat-free goods include American-style muffins, brownies and American-style cookies. Using raisin paste as a fat-replacer in baked goods can also significantly reduce the total calorie content of the food. For example, i n chewy chocolate chip cookies made from raisin paste, the total fat is reduced from 47% in the traditional formula to 1.6% and total calories per cookie are reduced from 117 to 87. In American-style muffins which, on the average, contain 100 calories (42% fat), the use of raisin paste as a fat replacer in a low-fat product (0.5% fat), with only 77 calories per serving.

Extrusion Technologies

New Extrusion technologies have opened the doors to a whole new range of products; from double-textured cookies to filled biscuits and bite-size snacks. California raisins and raisin paste offer humectancy in these types of products. Because they are naturally rich in fructose (36.2-36.9%) and have a low water activity in their typical moisture range ([a.sub.w] = 0.55 at 15% moisture) they can "lock" moisture in the products. They can be used in the centre of an extruded product either alone or in combination with other ingredients. Raisin paste is used, for example, in the centre of a breakfast bar, "Smart Start" by Kellogg's, while the outer crust is a bran cereal-based casing. Crushed raisins can also be added as a binder in centres that contain nuts and cereals. California raisins are a favourite ingredient in granola bars and chocolate-coated snack bars. California raisins are included in filled pastries such as piroshkis, rugelachs, stollens and similar products. They add chewiness, texture, consumer appeal, as well as taste and nutritional value. California raisins contain 5.3% fibre, 59% of which are soluble fibres and have a role in cholesterol-reducing diets. Their vitamin and mineral content should also be taken into consideration when developing nutrient-dense and healthy products. The high quality of California raisins guarantees an extended shelf-life to these products.

California Raisins Bring Out Ethnic Flavours

Recently, some of the most innovative uses of California raisins have been seen in the dynamic ethnic food industry. In the United Kingdom, the Indian and Chinese retail markets are estimated at 33.1 [pounds] and 26.5 [pounds] million respectively. And manufacturers have increased the usage of California raisins in chutneys, ethnic sauces and dressings. In 1992, Sharwood's RHM (UK) used raisins in a new sauce inspired from a traditional Malaysian recipe which also contains coconut, ginger, coriander and chilli. It also launched a Fruit and Nut Chutney with raisins. One of the most popular speciality sauces in the United States is Rafetto's Chut-Nut Colonial Chutney (manufactured by Romanoff International Inc.). California raisins are used to add texture and sweetness to this chutney which contains cauliflower, cancaloupe, black walnuts, spices and vinegar. Another range of relishes introduced in 1992 by McCormick Foods uses raisins with curried fruits. California raisins are rich in tartaric acid (1.5-2.2%) a natural flavour enhancer, and they are used in these products to provide sweetness and enhance other flavours in the product.

Research conducted by the California Raisin Advisory Board has shown that the flavour enhancement effect is most evident with spicy flavours (curries, ginger, chillies and peppers), as well as vanilla, cinnamon and citrus flavours (lemon and lime, orange, pomelo, tangerine, etc.). When used at the 5-10% level (percentage weight of formulation), the taste and sweetness of California raisins is undetected while the flavour enhancement effect improves the flavour profile of the formula. California raisins are used at the 10-15% level for this purpose in some grain-based vegetarian patties. When used at the 20-40% level, California raisins add body and chewiness and contribute a significant amount of propionic acid, a natural preservative (see following section). They are used for this purpose in some all natural ethnic sauces and dressings, as well as in sweet and sour stuffings. At levels above 40%, their sweetness counterbalances the sourness of vinegar in sugar-free chutneys and curried fruit sauces. With the tremendous growth of the ethnic food category (the UK fruit chutney market alone is estimated at 3m[pounds]), manufacturers should be aware of the functional benefits of California raisins, a high quality ingredient for this dynamic sector.

California Raisins Extend Shelf-life

Natural and healthy are the buzz words in the bakery industry. The question remains: "How do you make a good tasting, moist, multi-grain bread with an extended shelf-life without artificial additives?" The answer given by industry giants such as Safeway's bakery division: "Use California raisins!"

Safeway and dozens of other manufacturers in the United States started using raisins in all-natural and salt-free breads after a report was issued by the American Institute of Baking. The report showed that adding California raisins in the dough before mixing resulted i n the release of the natural propionic acid contained in the raisins which could, by itself, significantly extend the shelf-life of baked goods. Since then, hundreds of healthy baked goods have been introduced with California raisins. Whole raisins, raisin paste and raisin juice concentrate extend the shelf-life through the combined action of the natural propionic acid, a mould inhibitor (approximately 500-600 ppm in raisin juice concentrate) and fructose (36-37% in California raisins) which acts as an humectant. In addition, California raisins (whole, crushed or in paste form) contribute 5.3% fibre.

Manufacturers use California raisins for this purpose in a whole range of multi-grain and whole grain table breads, muffins, cakes, cookies and biscuits. Tests conducted by the CALRAB Food Technology Program also demonstrated that crushed California raisins can be used in flat breads and ethnic breads such as pitta breads (which typically dry fast) to keep them moist and acceptable longer. Over 100 recipes for all -natural baked goods with an extended shelf-life are available from the Food Technology Program of CALRAB.

California Raisins: Ancient traditions, high tech quality

The California raisin industry is now over 100 years old, yet is the most modem in the world. It combines ancient traditions (such as the all-natural sun-drying process) with the use of the most sophisticated equipment to produce a product that is free from foreign matter and meets the world's strictest quality standards. California raisins are the ingredient of choice for all major manufacturers in the United States such as Kellogg's, Nabisco, General Mills, Nestl[at]e and Haagen-Dazs to name a few. California raisins are now used by food manufacturers in over 30 countries.

Manufacturers in the United Kingdom are adopting this high quality ingredient in increasing numbers. Since 1988, California raisin imports into the United Kingdom have increased by over 25% and total approximately $25,000 metrictonnes. In 1991, California was the leading supplier of all dried vine fruits in the UK. In 1992,California raisins represented 63% of the raisins imported.

California raisins are available in a variety of sizes; select, midget and jumbo. Speciality, ready-to-use Multi-functional ingredients such as raisin paste and raisin juice concentrate are also available to the food industry. And, for manufacturers who target the $120 million UK organic food market, organic raisins are also offered by the California industry (and have been produced since the 1930's in this health-conscious state). The California raisin industry is not only equipped with the most advanced processing and quality control equipment and methods, it also created the Food Techonology Program, a service designed to assist manufacturers in their product development efforts. All the services (formulas, trouble-shouting, samples, new product ideas and information, technical literature) are available free of charge. And, to make information access even easier to all manufacturers in the United Kingdom, a toll-free line, staffed with food technologists, will be established in 1993.

More information on California raisins and the CALRAB Food Technology Program is available from: PO Box 281525 San Francisco, CA 94128-1525, USA. Tel: (+1)415-340-8311. Fax: (+1) 415-340-8568.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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