A Fresh Take on Blueberries

Baked goods and blueberries are enjoying a certain togetherness lately, especially in recent months as new twists on traditional pastries and classics — croissnuts, crunchies and even blueberries — make a perfect venue for blueberries. The popularity of fruit such as blueberries has led the bakery industry to create new ways of eating traditional fruit to provide flavorful baked goods and snacks that are both healthy and functional.

Innovations like fruit pouches, bite-sized pieces, formed shapes, bars or logs, fruit spreads and stay-fresh plastic tubs provide consumers with portability and on-the-go snacking.

The “breakfast-as-dessert” trend explores the clafoutis/pancake/waffle realm, bringing blueberries together with herb-steeped syrups and the inviting crunch of roasted nuts. Blueberries give such indulgences  a comfort-food permit.

Fruity flavor paired with mint or floral, as in blueberry mojito and herb-blueberry teas, works as a flavor base for novel baked goods. Blueberry works well in flavor combinations with spices, botanicals, floral, citrus and herbaceous because blueberries complement and enhance as well as balance flavors.

Ancient grains are increasingly popular, and blueberries are synergistic with oats, amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, kamut, farro and spelt. With heightened interest in gluten-free products, blueberries are a popular ingredient. Their presence lends the gluten-free formulations a homey and old-fashioned attraction. Blueberries can serve as the basis for vegan snacks and formulations and other special diet foods. They are also compatible with nuts and seeds.

Americans are interested in the health benefits of food, with fruits and vegetables at the top of the list. According to Fresh Takes on Fruit: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, a joint publication of CCD Innovation and market research publisher Packaged Facts, “fruit is and will continue to be omnipresent. Fruit plays a role in every daypart from breakfast to late-night snacks. Fruits go from the produce aisles to the snack shelf and freezer case. It is transformed into beverages, condiments and baked goods of all kinds. They also appeal to all ages and demographics.”

Get your promotional hats on because July is National Blueberry Month. Blueberries in fruit tarts and baked goods, in general, are ubiquitous these days. Examples include everything from blueberry pizza, blueberry pie and blueberry muffins to blueberry cereals, blueberry confections and blueberry breakfast biscuits.

Product designers are meeting demand for “good, healthy ingredients”  in their products by including blueberries in dessert sauces, creme brulees and cakes. 

In fact, fruit is used to garnish indulgent treats as a way to grant permission to the reluctant. Fruit-based smoothie-cakes take advantage of blueberries in the form of purees and concentrates as do so-called “nutritious” cakes using pureed blueberries.

Chocolate makers have gotten on the antioxidant bandwagon, touting good health as another plus for their food. The addition of blueberries makes chocolate even more glamorous in chocolate port bites with blueberries, chocolate-covered blueberries and rich chocolate desserts. Blueberries and dark chocolate co-star in cookies, pastries and even cheese cakes. Blueberries provide an acidic note that adds the perfect accent to rich desserts, chocolate and otherwise. The blueberry image is used to imbue products with a virtuous and planet-friendly aura.

US highbush blueberries continue to thrive with production acres, farming and processing efficiencies. Fresh blueberry production begins in April and ends in late September and early October. The peak of North American frozen production is in June through August.

Highbush blueberries are marketed as both fresh and frozen. Fresh blueberries are mainly harvested by hand. Blueberries for the frozen market, known as process blueberries, are machine harvested.

Frozen blueberries, available year-round, are as flavorful as fresh. Harvested blueberries are promptly frozen to retain flavor and ensure freshness with good texture, shape and color. With good volumes across the United States, highbush blueberries provide opportunities for manufacturers to incorporate the fruit into products.

With fruity flavor and a healthy profile, blueberries give products lush taste, broad appeal and a clean label. Virtually fat-free and low in sodium, carbohydrates and cholesterol, blueberries are a delicious source of Vitamin C and manganese.

Fresh fruits including blueberries contain many naturally occurring antioxidants and consequently are a good choice for consumers looking to protect their bodies against the damaging effects of free radicals and chronic diseases associated with the aging process. Blueberries are also nutritionally dense, low in calories and a source of fiber.