The FRESNACK Operating Group (GO), coordinated by IRTA and led by Frit Ravich, has developed a healthy snack of sliced and dried sweet fruit (apple, pear and peach) of high sensory quality. The product has a good flavor and aroma and a crunchy texture; it is healthy, minimally processed and also easy to consume, as well as convenient, since it has a refrigerated shelf life of between 7 and 10 months.
"This is a way to offer the Catalan fruit sector alternative products to diversify through innovation and more efficient and sustainable processes," said Maria Dolors Guàrdia, researcher of the IRTA Food Technology program and scientific manager of the project. It should be noted that a part of the sweet fruit production (10-15% of apples in Catalonia) cannot be sold fresh because of its appearance or size, and ends up in the industry, in products that are often undervalued (such as juices).
Minimal processing with great results
The operating group has developed this product through the application of a technological conservation process that combines drying with hot air and the application of microwave technology. It is an efficient process from an energetic and economic point of view, and results in a product with a better taste and higher nutritional quality than fried fruit snacks.
Drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. It consists of extracting water and solids from the food to a level where microbial contamination can be prevented. In the case of fruits and vegetables, if the moisture content is reduced to a specific point, the quality parameters are maintained.
The GO FRESNACK has brought together the companies ACTEL, Giropoma Costa Brava and Girona Fruits as partners. IRTA has participated as coordinator of the operational group and technology partner. It is a project funded through Operation 01.16.01 (Cooperation for innovation) through the Rural Development Program of Catalonia 2014-2020.