Q&A: Why Freeze-Dried Powders Facilitate Clean Label Innovation

July 2020

To meet demand for cleaner formulations, food manufacturers are increasingly seeking out natural ingredients that not only reduce the need for artificial preservatives or additives, but also enhance consumer appeal through unique flavors, texture and nutritional benefits.

Kathy De La Bastide, Group R&D Manager at Chaucer Foods, provides insight on how freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders can meet all of these demands and facilitate clean label innovation across food and beverage categories.

1. What are the advantages of freeze-dried ingredients, and how do they support a simpler label?

Unlike other drying methods, freeze drying preserves an ingredient’s natural color, shape, mouthfeel and authentic flavor, as well as all original nutrients. Freeze-dried ingredients also have a long ambient shelf life.

By contrast, traditional drying methods, such as spray drying or infused air drying, may lead products to darken, shrink and harden. These may result in a diminished or altered flavor profile and break down key nutrients. These methods also add moisture to ingredients, which limits their shelf life and increases bulk density.

2. What food and beverage applications are freeze-dried powders best suited for?

Freeze-dried powders are obvious choice for clean label beverages. For example, freeze-dried fruit powders can be used to add functional benefits, as well as vibrant color and visual appeal, to protein shakes and smoothies. They could also serve as a natural sweetener and flavoring for teas, functional beverage mixes, cocktail mixes and more.

We also see applications for freeze-dried powders in the bakery category, where manufacturers are experimenting with new, adventurous flavors. Berries and tropical fruits are being used more often in buttercreams, curds and jams for a pop of color and a unique flavor experience. Chaucer’s freeze-dried powders can be used to create colorful, fruity fillings and glazes for pastries, doughnuts and other sweet baked goods. Additionally, because freeze-dried powders have low water activity, they can be used within dough or batter for cakes, muffins and cupcakes.

Freeze-dried powder can also add value within the frozen dairy and dessert category. When incorporated as an ingredient, they can enhance color and flavor. When used as a topping or coating for ice cream treats, they add premium, visual appeal.

3. What nutritional benefits do freeze-dried powders offer?

Freeze-dried powders retain nearly all of the nutritional value of whole fruits and vegetables, and use no added sugars, artificial preservatives or carriers. In some applications, freeze-dried fruit powders can have a natural sweetening effect, reducing the need for added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Freeze-dried powders also have potential as a natural substitute for gum or stabilizer, supporting cleaner formulations. Pectin, a type of starch occurring in fruit that gives jams and jellies their semi-solid texture, is highly concentrated in the freeze drying process.

Our powders can also be fortified with prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins and minerals to support additional nutritional claims.

4. What new innovations or applications are you currently working on?

Some of the newer applications we have been working on for freeze-dried powders are instant mix beverages, including functional base blends for protein smoothies and shakes, as well as cocktail and mocktail mixes.

5. What opportunities do you see for freeze-dried powders moving forward?

We see a lot of opportunities for freeze-dried powders because they sync so perfectly with the trend toward natural, functional ingredients and a simpler label. By incorporating freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders into their protein drinks, frozen desserts, or baked goods, product developers can leverage the authentic flavors, colors and nutrition of fresh fruit and vegetables to support their cleaner and better-for-you formulations.

In the beverage industry, specifically, there is increased interest in functional beverages that leverage natural colors and flavorings, as well as reduced additives and artificial ingredients. Consumers also show preference for innovative, fun products with surprising textures, vibrant colors and a unique appearance worthy of an Instagram post. Freeze-dried powders can help food and beverage manufacturers deliver on all counts.

Whether you’re working on something new or reformulating to meet new guidelines, our team can work with you to find a solution that adds value. Wondering how you can use freeze-dried powders in your applications? Check out our recipe inspiration, or contact us today at customer.services@chaucerfoods.com.

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