Originally created to supply US soldiers with vitamin C in World War II, fruit concentrate has found many other uses. Whether you want to drink soda or eat gummy bears, you need fruit concentrate for the color and flavor. The fruit concentrate processing line involves fruit peelers, conveyor belts, filters, and evaporators that help producers make fruit concentrate with all of the fruit’s original aroma.
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Fruit concentrate processing line
On the fruit concentrate processing line, fruits are washed with an industrial washing machine for fruits and vegetables, cleaned and checked for any anomalies. Then, if needed, industrial fruit peelers peel the fruit. Subsequently, the juice of the fruit is extracted and purified.
To make pure fruit concentrate, the water content is evaporated by increasing the solids content of the juice to 65-75%. To remove water from the fruit juice without damaging it with high temperatures, manufacturers use low temperature evaporators at a maximum temperature of 50 ºC. Heating the juice under low pressure reduces the boiling point which allows the water to evaporate faster.
Challenges in fruit juice concentrate processing – How can you solve them?
During concentration, you can greatly reduce the volume of juice while reducing storage, packaging and transportation costs. Nevertheless, concentration also brings some problems. Fruit juice can lose much of its aroma, color and nutrients during vacuum evaporation. Some other problems are the corruption of the concentrate in form of gel structures and browning during concentration.
To solve the problem of gelling, manufacturers turned to clarification. Clarification generally employs enzyme treatments with pectinase, cellulose, or mixed enzyme formulations which, along with filtration, clarify the juice by breaking down the fruit’s cell walls. Quality losses during evaporation are related to the product’s high temperature and residence time. To overcome this problem, evaporators that use lower temperatures and a short residence time can help maintain the flavor and nutritional content of the fruit. Color changes (browning) can also be avoided by processing and storing the juice at a lower temperature.
Many faces of fruit concentrates
Fruit juice concentrate processing is a complex operation that results in many different products. There are several varieties of fruit juice concentrates and they all vary in their fruit and sugar content. Fruit concentrates without any added sugar are mostly labeled as 100% fruit concentrates and only contain natural sugars.
On the other hand, fruit concentrate that has added sweeteners is used as flavoring in carbonated and noncarbonated drinks, candies and culinary goods. Some of the sweeteners added to fruit concentrate are high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or fructose syrup.
Lastly, powdered juice concentrates are made by dehydrating fruit concentrate. Mostly made by spray-drying concentrated fruit juice, powdered juice has a water content of 1-3%. Powdered juice is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and increase antioxidant levels.
Fruit puree vs fruit concentrate: what’s the difference?
Fruit puree and fruit concentrate may seem similar, but their manufacturing processes are quite different. Fruit puree is made from ground and homogenized fruit and has the fruit’s original water content. It is thicker than fruit concentrate and retains all the juice and the fibrous matter that the fruit naturally possesses. Also, fruit puree is deaerated – oxygen is expelled from the puree to prevent oxidization with iron particles in the fruit. It can be used as infant food, as an addition to alcoholic drinks (craft beer and fruit wine) or in jam production. Another similar yet different product is fruit-pulp which often gets confused with puree and concentrate.
On the other hand, fruit concentrate is made from fruit juice and the process requires evaporation. Unlike deaeration, evaporation eliminates the water content from the concentrate, lowering the volume to approximately one sixth of the original juice volume.