FreshPatents.com Logo
stats FreshPatents Stats
90 views for this patent on FreshPatents.com
2012: 2 views
2011: 3 views
2010: 26 views
2009: 12 views
2008: 5 views
2007: 42 views
newTOP 200 Companies filing patents this week


    Free Services  

  • MONITOR KEYWORDS
  • Enter keywords & we'll notify you when a new patent matches your request (weekly update).

  • ORGANIZER
  • Save & organize patents so you can view them later.

  • RSS rss
  • Create custom RSS feeds. Track keywords without receiving email.

  • ARCHIVE
  • View the last few months of your Keyword emails.

  • COMPANY DIRECTORY
  • Patents sorted by company.

Follow us on Twitter
twitter icon@FreshPatents

Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same

* PDF temporarily unavailable. Check back later for PDF.
Note: For the newest patent filings there may be a short delay until the PDF is available. However, normally patent images should still be available immediately (further down this page).

Title: Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same.
Abstract: A reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with additional nutrients, including whole, natural fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s), or combinations thereof, having improved flavor, texture (e.g., mouth feel), color, and nutritional value as compared to fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes. More particularly, the present invention includes a fruit and/or vegetable spread product having reduced caloric and carbohydrate content and having increased soluble dietary fiber content, optionally fortified with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and processes for making, or preparing, the same. ...


- Atlanta, GA, US
Inventor: Frances A. Toves
USPTO Applicaton #: #20070128332 - Class: 426615000 (USPTO) - 06/07/07 - Class 426 


view organizer monitor keywords

Related Patent Categories: Food Or Edible Material: Processes, Compositions, And Products, Products Per Se, Or Processes Of Preparing Or Treating Compositions Involving Chemical Reaction By Addition, Combining Diverse Food Material, Or Permanent Additive, Plant Material Is Basic Ingredient Other Than Extract, Starch Or Protein
The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20070128332, Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same.

Calorie   Dietary Fiber   

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/422,611 (now pending) filed on Apr. 23, 2003, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/803,127 filed on Mar. 8, 2001 (now issued U.S. Pat. No. 6,599,555) that is specifically incorporated by this reference as if set forth herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates, generally, to the field of fruit and vegetable spread products and, in its preferred embodiments, to a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product fortified with dietary fiber, vitamins and/or minerals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] A growing awareness of the link between a healthy diet and improved physical health has led to new product development in the food manufacturing business. Because busy lifestyles often prevent consumers from consistently making the healthy food choices necessary to realize improved health, manufacturers have introduced traditional foods fortified with vitamins, minerals, fiber, digestive aids such as probiotics, and other nutrients into the marketplace.

[0004] Adding nutritional supplements to food products, however, often results in certain complications such as a loss of flavor or texture of the food. Additionally, the appearance of the product may be compromised by mineral residues and grittiness which can remain on the surfaces of food packaging. These problems are especially evident when the food product contains fresh fruits and/or vegetables since consumers tend to equate the integrity of the fruits and/or vegetables with the freshness and quality of the overall product.

[0005] A further complication of processing fruits and vegetables, especially those fortified with additional nutrients, arises due to the fragile nature of the microorganisms present in these products. For fruits and vegetable spreads enhanced with nutritional supplements, a manufacturer must take a great deal of care to kill the microorganisms present in the fruit without destroying the integrity of the supplements and without compromising the taste, texture and appearance of the product.

[0006] Many individuals apply fruit or vegetable spreads, such as jams, jellies, relishes, purees and preserves, to other food products in order to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the other food products with the taste and nutritional content of the fruit or vegetable spreads. Such fruit or vegetable spreads, generally, include a fruit or vegetable ingredient and a saccharide ingredient, but may also contain nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, spice, acidifying agents, pectin (i.e., in an amount sufficient to compensate for natural deficiency in fruit or vegetable), buffering and antifoaming agents, preservatives, and other ingredients or agents for improving or preserving their taste, nutritional value, and quality. The saccharide ingredient in jams, jellies and preserves is typically sugar, which provides sweetening, bulk, texture, and mouth feel. The sugar also reduces the water activity level, thereby reducing pathogen growth.

[0007] Typically, the preparation of jams, jellies, purees and preserves comprises a number of steps. Initially, fruit ingredients in a pulverized form, sweeteners and water are blended together. A stabilizing solution, such as pectin, is then prepared and added to the fruit, sweetener, and water blend to produce a mixture. During subsequent cooking of the mixture in vats, unwanted water is evaporated to create a cooked mixture having a desired soluble solids content. Finally, the cooked mixture is placed in suitable receptacles, such as jars, through a hot-filling process. Unfortunately, the steps of cooking and evaporation cause the fruit spread to lose flavor intensity (i.e., through boiling-off), texture and mouth feel (i.e., through breakdown of the fruit fibers into mush), natural color (i.e., through darkening or oxidation), and nutrients (i.e., through boiling-off).

[0008] One approach to the problem of nutrient loss is to fortify the jam, jelly, fruit or vegetable spread or food product with vitamins, minerals, fiber, or other nutrients, either alone or in combination. Through fortification, a manufacturer can supplement the nutritional value of a food by adding additional nutrients.

[0009] Several fortified food products are already known in the art. For instance, confectionary foods, breakfast cereals and nutritional drinks are available which are fortified with fiber and/or calcium. However, the addition of fortifying nutrients often affects the taste and/or mouth feel of the product, imparting bitterness or grittiness to the food. Foods containing fruits and/or vegetables are especially difficult to fortify if preserving the texture and integrity of the fruit and/or vegetable is important to the final product.

[0010] Calcium is often used as a binding agent for supplemental nutrients added to fortified foods. The calcium is bulky, however, making the resulting food product gritty or otherwise texturally unsatisfactory.

[0011] Other inventors and manufacturers, in response to studies indicating that excessive amounts of sugar in food products may contribute to or exacerbate many health problems and to the resultant desire among consumers for low-sugar fruit spreads, have attempted to enhance the healthiness of food products by employing sugar substitutes to produce low-calorie, low-sugar products. However, such sugar substitutes and processes for making food products which incorporate them, tend to create products having various difficulties, including deficiencies in sensory (sweetness intensity, quality and flavor), visual (color, clarity and gloss), and textural (firmness, body, mouth feel, and spreadability) properties as compared to their naturally sweetened counterparts. Some inventors, attempting to resolve such deficiencies, incorporate a multi-component gum system to impart desirable textural properties to pectin or carrageenan gel, but use conventional heating methods of preparation and, as a result of heat breakdown of the gums, produce a food product deficient in flavor.

[0012] Still other inventors and manufacturers have attempted to produce jams, jellies and other food products with a reduced caloric content by substituting oligofructose and/or inulin in place of some of the sugar, while taking advantage of the known bulking properties of such fructans. Unfortunately, traditional food processing tends to degrade the oligofructose and/or inulin at high temperatures and low pH, and because the shelf-life of products containing oligofructose may be inadequate, these attempts have proven difficult. In an attempt to extend the shelf-life of products containing oligofructose, pasteurization processes have been used, even though it is known that the pasteurization conditions may cause the oligofructose to degrade and, hence, be detrimental to the quality of the products.

[0013] Finally, still other inventors and manufacturers have attempted to resolve the, as yet undiscussed, problem of microbiological contamination which may occur during the preparation of some food products, particularly those incorporating fresh fruit and/or vegetables. Unfortunately, because the fruit and/or vegetables must be stable against processing stress, certain varieties, especially berry varieties, of fruit cannot be used in food products made with high-heat processes. Moreover, fruit spread products made with such process have, or tend to have, a texture similar to that of gelatin desserts (e.g., JELL-O.RTM.), which are very watery and not suitable for spreading, for instance, on toast. Further, even at refrigerated temperatures, fruit spread products prepared using the heated process have an extremely short shelf-life.

[0014] Until now, there has seemingly been no attempt to resolve the difficulty of manufacturing a nutritionally fortified low-calorie food spread while maintaining the texture and mouth feel of whole fruits or vegetables. The changes in texture, taste, odor and shelf stability caused by adding vitamins and minerals to food products have been discussed, but a method to preserve the manufacturing quality of fortified food products, especially those containing fresh fruit, has not been disclosed.

[0015] Therefore, there exists in the industry, a need for a process for making a nutritionally-fortified, reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable food product with an adequate shelf-life which does not diminish the natural flavor, texture, mouth feel, color, or nutritional content of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein, and for addressing these and other related, and unrelated, problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0016] Briefly described, the present invention comprises a nutritionally-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable spread product (as defined herein) including whole, natural fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) (as defined herein) or combinations thereof and processes for making, or preparing, the same. More particularly, in its preferred embodiments, a process of the present invention comprises a pasteurization step for making a fruit and/or vegetable spread product having reduced caloric and sugar content and having increased soluble dietary fiber and increased nutritional content. The nutritionally-fortified fruit and/or vegetable spread product may, for example and not limitation, be molded into sticks, pops, patties, or frozen novelties such as is done with margarine or ice cream, and/or transferred to a container (such as a jar, tub, or tube) or wrapper for packaging and subsequent sale as a standalone product. The nutritionally-fortified fruit and/or vegetable spread product may also be used as a base for other food products such as, for example and not limitation, yogurts, drinks, beverages, smoothies, snacks, pie fillings, puddings, ice cream toppings, condiments, fruit toppings, dressings, baby food, curd, cheeses, dips and sauces. Additionally, the nutritionally-fortified fruit and/or vegetable spread product may be spread onto other foods, for example and not limitation, like a jam, jelly, preserve, puree, marmalade, dressing, topping, condiment, cheese, dip or sauce.

[0017] Importantly, the processes produce a fruit and/or vegetable spread product, as defined herein, without the discoloration and the reductions in flavor, texture, mouth feel, and nutrients that occur with fruit or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes which include a vat cooking and/or evaporation step. Additionally, the process produces a fruit and/or vegetable spread product without the gritty mouth feel and the reductions in product quality that occur with food products made with conventional process which include fortified nutrients. The fruit and/or vegetable spread products produced by the process of the present invention provide: flavor approaching that of fresh fruits (or vegetables); texture and mouth feel superior to that of traditionally-prepared jams, jellies, purees and preserves; enhanced nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber; and reduced caloric content as compared to traditionally-prepared fruit or vegetable spread products.

[0018] The process of the present invention avoids the flavor, texture, mouth feel, and nutrient losses that occur during conventional processing of fruit and/or vegetable spread products by using a high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization process instead of the traditional vat cooking and evaporation processes. By combining whole fruit(s), vegetable(s), or a combination thereof with a homogenized slurry of other ingredients, including at least (i) sweetener, such as, for example and not limitation, fruit juice concentrate, invert syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrups, maltose, cane syrup, honey, polyols such as sorbitol, mannitol, glycerol, propylene glycol, fruit juices or any mixtures thereof, (ii) soluble dietary fiber such as, for example and not limitation, fructo-oligosaccharide or inulin, and pectin, and by then pasteurizing the combined mixture in, preferably, a swept-surface heat exchanger, a shelf-stable fruit and/or vegetable spread product having less sugar (and, hence, reduce caloric content) and more dietary fiber is produced, and (iii) nutrients (as defined herein) including, but not limited to, vitamins and minerals. The resulting fruit and/or vegetable spread products have good textural quality and mouth feel, intense flavor, and maintain the color and structural integrity of the whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) present therein.

[0019] The process of the present invention further avoids the flavor, texture, mouth feel, and nutrient losses that occur during conventional vat processing of fruit and/or vegetable spread products which are enhanced with supplemental nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber. The supplemental nutrients, as defined herein, are combined with a dietary fiber and added to a slurry of fruit and/or vegetables and other ingredients. Preferably, the supplemental nutrients are bound to a dietary fiber, such as inulin, rather than to a bulky binding agent such as calcium. The fortified fiber-fruit and/or vegetable slurry is then exposed to a high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization process instead of traditional vat cooking and evaporation processes. The process of present invention results in a fruit and/or vegetable spread product, as defined herein, having enhanced nutrition and improved texture, mouth feel, and flavor.

[0020] According to the preferred embodiments described herein, the process of the present invention uses less sugar than is used in traditional fruit and/or vegetable spread processing. Such reduction of the sugar content lowers the incidence of discoloration in the resulting fruit and/or vegetable spreads products (i.e., as compared to the discoloration which occurs in traditionally, or conventionally, prepared fruit and/or vegetable spread products) which occurs as a consequence of non-enzymatic browning (also referred to as "Maillard Browning"). The process' use of less sugar also results in higher water activity levels during preparation that are more amenable to pasteurization, thereby enhancing the pasteurization process.

[0021] Because the process of the present invention utilizes whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) and/or combinations thereof in lieu of fruit or vegetable juices for flavoring, the resulting fruit and/or vegetable spread products have improved taste, texture, and mouth feel when compared to fruit and/or vegetable spread products traditionally made with such fruit or vegetable juices. By preparing a premix of vitamins and minerals, and by binding the premix to a dietary fiber, the product of the inventive process achieves enhanced nutrition without degrading the appearance, flavor, texture or mouth feel of the product. Additionally, by using pasteurization for microkill instead of vat cooking as in conventional fruit and/or vegetable spread processing, the process of the present invention does not "cook down" whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) into mush and does not destroy their structural integrity, and thereby enhances the texture and mouth feel of the resulting fruit and/or vegetable spread products. Also, by using pasteurization instead of vat cooking, the vitamins and other nutrients of the whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) are not lost by the present process to the same extent that they are lost by the evaporation of vapor during the vat cooking step of conventional processing.

[0022] The process of the present invention additionally produces fruit and/or vegetable spread products that may naturally fortify a consumer's gastrointestinal tract. More particularly, the addition of dietary fiber (i.e., in the preferable form of inulin) by the process to the fruit and/or vegetable spread products produced thereby, may cause increased absorption of nutrients in the consumer's gastrointestinal tract, thus providing a natural health food. Moreover, the process of the present invention produces fruit and/or vegetable spread products that optionally contain additional vitamins and minerals, including without limitation, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, E, and C. The additional vitamins and minerals are bound to a dietary fiber, preferably inulin, and incorporated into the fruit and/or vegetable product.

[0023] In addition to the previously described benefits of the present invention's use of high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization, such pasteurization contributes to increasing the shelf stability of the fruit and/or vegetable spread products made by the process. The shelf stability of the resulting fruit and/or vegetable spread products is further enhanced by the heating and packaging steps of the process which are conducted under substantially closed conditions to aid in eliminating the possibility of product contamination and to reduce product oxidation (and, hence, discoloration). Notably, the results of testing on fruit and/or vegetable spread products prepared by the process of the present invention seem to indicate that the shelf-life of such products is significantly longer than one year.

[0024] Further, the process of the present invention enables packaging of fruit and/or vegetable spread products made thereby, preferably, in squeezable tubes. Such packaging tends to keep the fruit and/or vegetable spread products hygienically safe and substantially free from contaminants and discoloration due to oxidation of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein (i.e., due to reduced exposure to air) during repeated use. Such packaging also eliminates the need for cutlery in order to use or consume the fruit and/or vegetable spread products and serves to make the products more portable.

[0025] It is therefore an object of the present invention to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product which suffers less reduction of the natural flavor of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein during processing than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0026] It is another object of the present invention to make a nutritionally-fortified, reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product which suffers less reduction of the natural flavor of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein during processing than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0027] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, which suffers less loss of the texture and mouth feel of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein during processing than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0028] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, which suffers less discoloration of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein during processing than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0029] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, which suffers less loss of the natural nutritional content of the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) therein during processing than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0030] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having better flavor than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0031] Still another object of the present invention is to make a natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having fewer calories than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0032] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having less sugar than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0033] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having more dietary fiber than fruit and/or vegetable spread products made with conventional processes.

[0034] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, incorporating soluble dietary fiber, such as inulin, into a fruit and/or vegetable spread product without adversely affecting the texture, mouth feel, and/or color of the product.

[0035] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having better texture and mouth feel than fruit and/or vegetable spreads made with conventional processes.

[0036] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having more natural color than fruit and/or vegetable spreads made with conventional processes.

[0037] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having better natural nutritional content, or value, than fruit and/or vegetable spreads made with conventional processes.

[0038] Still another object of the present invention is to make a reduced-calorie, natural, whole-fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, having shelf stability at least comparable to that of fruit and/or vegetable spreads made with conventional processes.

[0039] Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading and understanding the present specification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0040] The present invention comprises a reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable spread product, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, including whole, natural fruits or vegetables, or combinations thereof and processes for manufacturing, or preparing, the same. According to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention and process thereof, the process includes a plurality of steps. First, a portion of the total quantity of whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) in the spread (or a combination thereof), a substance containing soluble dietary fiber, optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, and pectin are combined and mixed to form a slurry. Then, the remaining portion of the total quantity of whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) (or a combination thereof) and liquid sweetener are combined with the slurry to form a resulting mixture, or blend, which is subsequently mixed to a substantially even consistency. Finally, the resulting mixture is pasteurized and packaged in product form.

[0041] Described in more detail, the first step of the first preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises combining a portion of the overall amount of whole fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s), or a combination thereof, which are in the final spread product with a dietary fiber component, wherein the dietary fiber component is optionally fortified with supplemental nutrients, as defined herein, and pectin. Additional ingredients such as glycerol or propylene glycol, for example and not limitation, may optionally be added, in accordance with alternate embodiments, to the fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s), dietary fiber, and pectin. The combined ingredients are then, preferably, mixed with a mixer at high speed, as known to one of ordinary skill in the art, and at room temperature for a period of time sufficient to form a slurry or emulsion. A mixer, acceptable in accordance with the first preferred embodiment, is a high shear liquid mixer, such as that available from Breddo Likwifier (a division of American Ingredients) or from Greerco High Shear Mixers (a division of Chemineer Co.). It is understood that the scope of the present invention includes the use of other types of mixers available from other vendors and the use of other mixing methods. It is also understood that, in accordance with alternate embodiments of the process, other ingredients may, optionally, be added to the slurry to provide variations in flavor, color, texture, and/or mouth feel. Such other additional ingredients include, for example and not limitation, spices, acidifying agents, antioxidants, isoflavins, soy proteins, natural flavors and colors, buffering agents, preservatives, antifoaming agents and nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners.

[0042] Proceeding in accordance with the first preferred embodiment, the emulsified slurry is combined with the remaining whole fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof (i.e., of the total quantity of fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) of the final spread product) to impart flavor and with a liquid sweetener. The slurry, fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s), and liquid sweetener are then mixed in a mixer for a period of time appropriate to produce a mixture, or blend, having an even and desired consistency. During combination and mixing, the temperature of the mixture, or blend, is kept at or below room temperature until the blend is heated in a scraped-surface heat exchanger, as described below, to aid in preventing flavor loss and/or color degradation. Preferably, the mixer is a scraped-surface mixer such as that available from Groen (i.e., Dover Industries Co.). It is understood, however, that the scope of the present invention includes the use of other types of mixers available from the same or different vendors.

[0043] Once the mixture, or blend, has been mixed to an even consistency, the mixture is pasteurized by raising and holding the temperature of the blend, preferably, at a temperature in the range of 165.degree. F. (74.degree. C.) to about 225.degree. F. (108.degree. C.) for a period of time (i.e., "hold time") between 10 seconds and 10 minutes, thereby killing any microbes that may be present in the blend. The required temperature and hold time are determined by the types of fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s) being used in the spread product and, for certain fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s), respective temperatures and hold times of 95.degree. C. and 100 seconds are appropriate. Generally, higher temperatures are combined with shorter residence times to provide satisfactory pasteurization.

[0044] According to the first preferred embodiment of the present invention, the pasteurization of the blend is performed in a swept-surface heat exchanger having one or more cylinders of a particular size by pumping, or passing, the blend therethrough. The precise number and size of the cylinders is, generally, based upon the capacity and throughput desired for the process. A swept-surface heat exchanger, acceptable in accordance with the first preferred embodiment, includes a single cylinder, six inches in diameter by six feet in length. An acceptable swept-surface heat exchanger also includes a jacket through which a heat exchange medium such as low pressure steam or hot water passes to cause heating of the blend in the cylinder. The precise length of the cylinder, or holding tube, is based on the particular spread product and the combination of temperature and associated residence time needed to effect pasteurization. Such swept-surface heat exchangers are commonly found in the food industry and are available from vendors such as APV, Cherry Burrel, and Alpha-Laval. It is understood that the scope of the present invention includes the use of other temperatures, hold times, forms of equipment, and methods for pasteurizing the blend.

[0045] After pasteurization of the blend, the resulting product, as defined herein, is then partially cooled to a temperature in the range of 45.degree. F. to about 165.degree. F. Preferably, the partial cooling of the blend is accomplished by pumping, or passing, the blend through a second swept-surface heat exchanger which is substantially similar to the first swept-surface heat exchanger employed, as described above, to pasteurize the blend. However, in order to cool the blend, the heat exchange medium, preferably, includes, but is not limited to, cold water, sweet water, or a refrigerant.

[0046] Once the spread product is partially cooled, or chilled, the spread product is packaged, with the packaging being sealed immediately to minimize the exposure to air and, hence, to new microbes, spores, and other forms of possible contaminants. Optionally, the spread product may be molded into sticks, pops, or patties, such as is done with margarine or ice cream, and/or transferred to a container for packaging. Optional containers include, but are not limited to, tubs, bowls, cartons, tubes, jars, or any form capable of holding a liquid, solid, or semi-solid product. Additionally, sticks and/or wrappers may be used in order to produce a lollipop or popsicle product. Preferably, the packaging includes squeezable tubes which are filled with the partially cooled blend through use of a tube filler. The containers are then further chilled to refrigeration temperatures to protect against the breakdown of the fruit spread's texture, mouth feel, flavor, and color. It is important to note that, at lower blend temperatures, the packaging, or tube filling, should be performed in clean rooms to aid in preventing post-processing contamination. It is also important to note that the scope of the present invention includes other forms of packaging through use of other types of packaging equipment.

[0047] In accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the present invention substantially similar to the first preferred embodiment, a slurry is prepared from liquid sweetener, soluble dietary fiber and pectin. The slurry is then combined and mixed with the flavor-imparting whole fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof, to form a blend. After combination and mixing, the blend is pasteurized and packaged using a method substantially like that of the first preferred embodiment.

[0048] In accordance with a third preferred embodiment of the present invention, substantially similar to the first preferred embodiment and the second preferred embodiment, supplemental nutrients are combined with a fortified soluble dietary fiber rather than being bound to calcium. The supplemental nutrients added to the soluble dietary fiber include, without limitation, vitamins, minerals, fibers, and/or pre- or probiotics. The resulting fortified soluble dietary fiber is then combined with liquid sweetener, a portion of the whole fruits and/or vegetables, and pectin to form a slurry. The slurry containing the fortified fiber is then combined and mixed with the remainder of flavor-imparting whole fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof, to form a blend. After combination and mixing, the blend is pasteurized and packaged using a method substantially like that of the first preferred embodiment.

[0049] In accordance with a fourth preferred embodiment of the present invention, substantially similar to the first preferred embodiment, a slurry is prepared from liquid sweetener, a fortified soluble dietary fiber, as described in the third preferred embodiment, and pectin. The slurry is then combined and mixed with the flavor-imparting whole fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof, to form a blend. After combination and mixing, the blend is pasteurized and packaged using a method substantially like that of the first preferred embodiment.

[0050] Nutritionally-fortified whole fruit and/or vegetable spreads of the present invention are prepared by substituting the soluble dietary fiber with a nutrient-fortified soluble dietary fiber. The fortified soluble dietary fiber is prepared prior to combination with the liquid sweetener and pectin. Unfortified fiber is used to bind vitamins, minerals, prebiotics or probiotics, and other nutritional supplements to make the fortified fiber. The nutrient-fortifed fiber is then added to the sweetener and pectin in the same proportions as the unfortified dietary fiber to form the slurry described in the preferred embodiments.

[0051] The whole fruit and/or vegetable spread product of the present invention contains between 55% and 85% natural fruit and/or vegetable, almost twice as much as any other fruit and/or vegetable product. As a result, the spread product of the present invention contains less added carbohydrates than traditional spreads, while it provides more dietary fiber. Preferred products of the present invention contain less than 10 grams of total carbohydrates and at least 1.5 grams of dietary fiber per serving (serving size equals one tablespoon). More preferred products of the present invention contain between 5 and 8 grams of total carbohydrates and between 1.5 and 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving (serving size equals one tablespoon).

[0052] The fruit and/or vegetable spread product of the present invention may optionally contain starches and/or binding agents commonly known in the art. Examples of starches include, by example and not limitation, starch derived from potato, tapioca, corn, sorghum, rice, and wheat. Starch may be present in the fruit and/or vegetable product of the present invention in an amount ranging from 0.025% to 6%.

[0053] The term "sweetener," as used herein, includes any substance capable of imparting sweetness to a product. Examples of contemplated sweeteners include, but are not limited to, fruit juice concentrate, white sugar, raw sugar, fructose, dextrose, fruit juices, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame and saccharine, stevia, licorice root, rice syrup, honey, sugar alcohols or any combination thereof. In accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention, the amount of sweetener added during processing is between about 5 percent to about 50 percent, by weight, of the fruit and/or vegetable spread product. The amount of sweetener used, in proportion to the other ingredients, varies according to the particular fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination of fruit(s) and vegetable(s) used in the product.

[0054] As used herein, the terms "dietary fiber" and "fiber" include any carbohydrate capable of providing bulking properties to the fruit and/or vegetable spread product, including, but not limited to, inulin and other plant starches and fructo-oligosaccharides. Inulin is a term applied to a water soluble, heterogeneous blend of fructose polymers found widely distributed in nature as plant storage carbohydrates. Oligofructose is a sub-group of inulin consisting of polymers with a degree of polymerization (DP) of 10 or less. Oligofructoses, acceptable in accordance with the preferred embodiments, include, but are not limited to, the beta-2,1 type, inulin, irisin and lycorisin. Preferably, the dietary fiber is inulin. Also preferably, the fruit and/or vegetable spread product includes dietary fiber present in an amount between about 0.5 percent and about 5 percent, by weight, of the final product. The precise amount of dietary fiber used, in proportion to the other ingredients, varies according to the particular fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof which are used in the product.

[0055] As used herein, the terms "fortified dietary fiber" and "fortified fiber" include any dietary fiber, as described above, wherein the dietary fiber is used to bind additional nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and pre- or probiotics. Preferably, the fortified dietary fiber is inulin, fortified with vitamins A, C, E and D and with calcium. Also preferably, the fruit and/or vegetable spread product includes fortified dietary fiber present in an amount between about 0.025 percent and about 5 percent, by weight, of the final product. The vitamins and minerals and other nutrients are preferably present in the fortified fiber in an amount between about 10% and 100% of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). More preferably, the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are present in the fortified fiber in an amount between about 25% and 50% RDA. The precise amount of fortified dietary fiber used, in proportion to the other ingredients, varies according to the particular fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof which are used in the product.

[0056] The term, "pectin", as used herein, refers to any substance forming a colloidal solution in water which gels upon cooling. The pectin may be in powder or liquid form, naturally occurring or modified. According to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, the fruit spread product includes pectin in an amount between about 0.5 percent to about 3 percent, by weight, of the final product. The amount of pectin used, in proportion to the other ingredients, varies according to the particular fruit(s), vegetable(s), or combination thereof present in the product. Notably, the pectin is uncooked in the process of the present invention, thereby causing less breakdown of the pectin than would likely otherwise occur if the pectin was cooked.

[0057] As used herein, the term "fruit" includes any commonly-known fruit having a desired flavor, including, but not limited to, berries, including but not limited to apples, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapples, kiwis, apricots, plums, grapes, prunes, cherries, mangos, melons, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, marion berries, mulberries, and the like.

[0058] The term "vegetable", as used herein, includes any commonly-known vegetable having a desired flavor, including, but not limited to, tomatoes, carrots, hicma, beets, beans, squash, spinach, onions, garlic, peppers (i.e., including jalapeno peppers), avocados, and herbs.

[0059] The terms "whole fruit," "whole vegetable," and "whole" in relation to fruits and/or vegetables or combinations thereof, as used herein refers to fruits and/or vegetables, as defined above, which are present in solid form as opposed to puree or pulverized forms. The terms include, without limitation, chunks, slices, dices, pieces and other forms of solid fruit and/or vegetable, as well as the fruit and/or vegetable in its unprocessed form.

[0060] As used herein, the terms "fruit spread," "fruit spread product," "vegetable spread," "vegetable spread product," "fruit product," and "vegetable product" refer to any edible product including at least the ingredients described herein. The spreads and products of the present invention may be formed into molds, such as into sticks or tubs (as is done with margarine or butter), formed into pops or frozen novelties, used as a base for other food products, such as yogurts, or spread onto other foods. The terms include, but are not limited to, jams, jellies, preserves, purees, marmalades, beverages, snacks, pie fillings, puddings, and bases for: fruit and/or vegetable-flavored drinks and/or beverages, such as "smoothies," ice cream toppings, condiments, fruit toppings, yogurts, dressings, baby food, curd, cheeses, dips, and sauces.

[0061] As used herein, the terms "nutritional ingredients," "nutrients" and "supplemental nutrients" includes, for example and without limitation, vitamins, minerals, fiber, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, substances such as enzymes, metabolites, and pre- and probiotics.

[0062] As used herein, the term "vitamins" includes, without limitation, any organic substance necessary to metabolize food in humans or other animals. Specifically contemplated vitamins include, but are not limited to, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B.sub.6, folate, and vitamin B.sub.12.

[0063] The term "minerals," as used herein, includes, by example and without limitation, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, and selenium.

[0064] The term "herbs or other botanicals," as used herein, includes processed or unprocessed plant parts (bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and stems) as well as extracts and essential oils. They are available as teas, powders, tablets, capsules, and elixirs. Examples of herbs and botanicals include, by example and without limitation, DHEA, ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, melatonin, saw palmetto, St. John's wort, milk thistle, aloe, Echinacea, and garlic, among others.

[0065] As used herein, the term "amino acids" is defined as the building blocks of proteins and the precursors of various nitrogen-containing molecules in the body. The term includes the amino acid, itself, as well as derivatives thereof. Examples of amino acids and their derivatives include, by example and without limitation, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, citrulline, cysteine, cystine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, omithine, proline, serine, taurine and tyrosine.

[0066] As used herein, the term "probiotic" is defined as any substance or micro-organism which promotes the growth of other micro-organisms in the human body and results in a beneficial effect on the body. Examples of probiotics include, as example and without limitation, bacteria strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, including Lactobacillus johnsonii (Lal), Bifidobacterium lactis (BL), Sporogene, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Delbruekeii, Lactobacillus Caseii, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Causasicus, Lactobacillus Fermenti, Lactobacillus-Plantarum, Lactobacillus Brevis, Lactobacillus Heleveticus, Lactobacillus Leichmannii, Lactobacillus Lactis, Lactobacillus Bifidus, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus, among others.

[0067] As used herein, the term "prebiotic" is defined as any non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon to improve host health. Prebiotics include, by example and not by limitation, Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galactooligosaccharides and other digestion resistant carbohydrates or oligosaccharides, pyrodextrins, maltodextrins, soybean oligosaccharides (raffinose, stachyose), lactulose, isomalto-oligosaccharides, lactosucrose, glucooligosaccharides, palatinose, tagatose, and lactitol.

[0068] The following examples are merely illustrative of the process and resulting products of the present invention and do not serve to limit the invention thereto.

EXAMPLE 1

Strawberry Fruit Spread

[0069] In accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention, the following ingredients, by weight, are combined and mixed together at room temperature using a Breddo Likwifier mixer and a Groen scraped-surface mixer to form a slurry:

[0070] 0.5-5% low-ester citrus pectin

[0071] 0.5-3% inulin

[0072] 20% white grape juice concentrate with a Brix level of 68

[0073] 10-20% organic liquid sugar with a Brix level of 72

[0074] The slurry and about 55-70% whole strawberries are mixed until the mixture, or blend, has an even consistency. The mixture is then pumped through a swept-surface heat exchanger, where the mixture is heated to and held at a temperature of between 180.degree. F. to 225.degree. F. for a period of about two to three minutes. Next, the mixture is passed through a second swept-surface heat exchanger to partially cool the mixture. Finally, the partially cooled mixture is packaged in squeeze tube packages.

EXAMPLE 2

Raspberry Smoothie Flavoring

[0075] The following ingredients are, according to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, mixed together at room temperature using a Breddo Likwifier mixer and a Groen scraped-surface mixer to form a slurry:

[0076] 1-5% low-ester citrus pectin

[0077] 1-3% inulin

[0078] 15-35% white grape juice concentrate with a Brix level of 68

[0079] 15-35% organic liquid sugar with a Brix level of 72

[0080] 40-65% whole raspberries

[0081] Once the slurry, or emulsion, is formed, the mixture is pumped through a swept-surface heat exchanger and heated to and held at a temperature of between 180.degree. F. to 225.degree. F. for a period of about two to three minutes. Next, the mixture is passed through a second swept-surface heat exchanger to partially cool the mixture to a temperature of between 45.degree. F. and 165.degree. F. Finally, the partially cooled mixture is packaged in appropriate packaging.

EXAMPLE 3

Fortified Whole Fruit or Vegetable Jelly

[0082] In accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention, the following ingredients, by weight, are combined and mixed together at room temperature using a Breddo Likwifier mixer and a Groen scraped-surface mixer to form a slurry:

[0083] 0.5-6% low-ester citrus pectin

[0084] 0.025-6% inulin fortified with Vitamins A, E, and C; calcium (as calcium citrate)

[0085] 10-25% white grape juice concentrate with a Brix level of around 68

[0086] 10-25% organic liquid sugar with a Brix level of 72

[0087] 0.025-6% starch

[0088] 0.05-15% water

[0089] The slurry and about 55-85% whole fruits and/or vegetables are mixed until the mixture, or blend, had an even consistency. The mixture is then pumped through a swept-surface heat exchanger, where the mixture is heated to and held at a temperature of between 180.degree. F. to 225.degree. F. for a period of about two to three minutes. Next, the mixture is passed through a second swept-surface heat exchanger to partially cool the mixture. Finally, the partially cooled mixture is packaged in squeeze tube packages.

EXAMPLE 4

Fortified Whole Fruit and/or Vegetable Smoothie Flavoring

[0090] The following ingredients are, according to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, mixed together at room temperature using a Breddo Likwifier mixer and a Groen scraped-surface mixer to form a slurry:

[0091] 1-5% low-ester citrus pectin

[0092] 1-3% inulin fortified with Vitamins A, C and E; calcium (as calcium citrate)

[0093] 15-35% white grape juice concentrate with a Brix level of 68

[0094] 15-35% organic liquid sugar with a Brix level of 72

[0095] 40-65% whole fruit and/or vegetables

[0096] Once the slurry, or emulsion, is formed, the mixture is pumped through a swept-surface heat exchanger and heated to and held at a temperature of between 180.degree. F. to 225.degree. F. for a period of about two to three minutes. Next, the mixture is passed through a second swept-surface heat exchanger to partially cool the mixture to a temperature of between 45.degree. F. and 165.degree. F. Finally, the partially cooled mixture is packaged in appropriate packaging.

[0097] Whereas this invention has been described in detail with particular reference to its most preferred embodiments, it is understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the invention, as described herein before and as defined in the appended claims. The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means plus function elements, if any, in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or acts for performing the functions in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed.

Advertise on FreshPatents.com - Rates & Info


You can also Monitor Keywords and Search for tracking patents relating to this Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same patent application.
###
monitor keywords



Keyword Monitor How KEYWORD MONITOR works... a FREE service from FreshPatents
1. Sign up (takes 30 seconds). 2. Fill in the keywords to be monitored.
3. Each week you receive an email with patent applications related to your keywords.  
Start now! - Receive info on patent apps like Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same or other areas of interest.
###



Thank you for viewing the Nutrient-fortified, reduced-calorie fruit and/or vegetable food product and processes for making same patent info.
- - - Apple patents, Boeing patents, Google patents, IBM patents, Jabil patents, Coca Cola patents, Motorola patents

Results in 1.15587 seconds


Other interesting Freshpatents.com categories:
Software:  Finance AI Databases Development Document Navigation Error

###

Data source: patent applications published in the public domain by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Information published here is for research/educational purposes only. FreshPatents is not affiliated with the USPTO, assignee companies, inventors, law firms or other assignees. Patent applications, documents and images may contain trademarks of the respective companies/authors. FreshPatents is not responsible for the accuracy, validity or otherwise contents of these public document patent application filings. When possible a complete PDF is provided, however, in some cases the presented document/images is an abstract or sampling of the full patent application for display purposes. FreshPatents.com Terms/Support
-g1--0.1987
     SHARE
  
           

FreshNews promo


stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20070128332 A1
Publish Date
06/07/2007
Document #
11490859
File Date
07/21/2006
USPTO Class
426615000
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
23L1/212
Drawings
0


Calorie
Dietary Fiber


Follow us on Twitter
twitter icon@FreshPatents