Chaucer Foods is opening up new opportunities in the chocolate confectionery sector by showing how innovative creations can be produced using freeze dried fruit as a decoration or as an inclusion.

Richard Ilsley, Group Sales and Marketing Director of Chaucer Foods, said: “The use of many types of fruit in chocolate confectionery would normally be very limited because it greatly reduces the shelf life of the product and makes handling very difficult. However, by incorporating freeze dried fruit, producers can mix fruit and chocolate and produce numerous innovative creations without compromising the shelf life of the chocolate.”

“The premium chocolate market is growing across the world, and the trend to more high quality, indulgent products with natural additions is stimulating innovation in novel flavours and ingredients. Using freeze dried fruit will open up new possibilities for producers and enable them to capitalise on this trend,” he added.

Using freeze dried fruit, Chaucer has been able to produce chocolate creations that otherwise would not be possible. For example, the company has used freeze dried banana slices to create banoffee chocolate pies. Fresh bananas would typically go black and slimy within this type of application, but freeze dried banana slices only slightly darken over the shelf life.

Using freeze dried fruit in chocolate has many benefits:

• The shelf life of freeze dried fruit is typically 12 months and above, which is similar to chocolate.

• Because freeze dried fruits are very light, a relatively small quantity has a big impact on visual appearance.

• The moisture content of freeze dried fruit is typically below 5%. Fresh, frozen or canned fruit cannot be used in chocolate confectionary products because of their high water content.

• Fresh tasting red berry fruits and citrus fruits complement the rich creaminess of chocolate.

• Freeze dried fruits maintain their characteristic fresh flavour and natural bright colour.

• A study carried out by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, in collaboration with Chaucer Foods, found that freeze dried fruits maintain the majority of their nutrients during the freeze drying process in terms of Vitamin C content, phenolic content and antioxidant activity.

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