Dried Blueberries – fruit of the forest.
Native American and First Nations in Canada were
certainly the inventors of dried blueberries. Early explorers described the drying of wild forest blueberries in the summer for the long winters in the northlands. Meats were blended and preserved with blueberries to create the original jerky called pemmican! Early pioneer explorers like Lewis and Clark and David Thompson relied upon blueberries in their journeys across the wilderness.
How and Why: – Blueberries are normally at an 80% moisture level which makes them so juicy. In order to preserve a blueberry the moisture must be reduced to around 20% or lower, or else moisture must be exchanged with a humectant such as sweeteners to place the product at a state of equilibrium. You will find a whole range of dried blueberries for specific uses and utilizing various processes.
Air Dried Blueberries – Fresh or frozen blueberries are dried with hot air to a moisture level of around 11-15 percent moisture. It takes about 6.5 lb/kg of blueberry to yield one. This is normally a nice chew and is used in snacks and breakfast cereals.
Dried Blueberries – Fresh or frozen blueberries are dipped in a soda solution to soften the skin and then are tanked in a syrup or fruit juice concentrate solution. The liquid is specially engineered to be heavier than the interior moisture of the blueberry and also fid the microscopic pores. The liquid will enter the interior through osmosis and drives the water from the blueberry. In hours the product is infused and shelf stable. The wet product is then air dried to between 15-20 percent moisture. This is the most common dried blueberry product. It is important to note that this is a primary product and not a by- product of squeezing blueberries for juice. The skins of the blueberry contain most of the pigments and other beneficial
substances. The water activity of the infused dried blueberry is ideal for snack mixes, breakfast cereals. The product is shelf stable for more than a year at moderate room temperatures.
Preserved Blueberries – This is an intermediate moisture product made from the above described infusion process. The product is not further dried after infusion and is shelf-stable in 18 to 28 percent moisture levels. It is perfect for muffins and ice creams and is appealing to food processors and bakers in regions like Mexico and Caribbean where frozen blueberries are sometimes not readily available. These osmotically preserved blueberries are shelf stable for more than a year at moderate storage temperatures.