Editor's note: The following information was written on behalf of the U. S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Blueberries are easy to formulate for dairy products from ice cream, yogurt and frozen desserts to cheesecakes, smoothies, drinkable yogurts and milkshakes.

BlueCheescake.jpgWith their versatile formats --fresh, frozen, IQF, purees and osmotically preserved-- they provide appealing color, lush flavor and intriguing effects like blue swirls and patterns. They are excellent as a topping or mixed into the product and are essential in almost anything red, white and blue.

Blueberries impart a mild fruity flavor compatible with frozen yogurts. With their natural high-sugar levels, blueberries help to remove the sour taste sometimes associated with yogurt and naturally sweeten the product. They add excellent flavor and interesting texture to creamy mixtures and are an excellent accompaniment -- either as a topping or mixed into the product.

The fresh appeal also is attractive to health conscious consumers. With so many consumers now aware of blueberries’ high antioxidant level and healthy profile, they are looking for real blueberries in dairy products. They see blueberries as a value-added ingredient linked to heart health, anti-aging properties, cancer prevention, improved eyesight and better memory. Plus the recurrent theme today is, “give us natural.”

Intriguing ingredient pairings, such as chocolate and blueberries, blueberry with green tea, blueberry and spices, etc. provide interesting opportunities to push these treats into the healthy eating arena and to position dessert-style dishes in a whole new direction, not just simply a dessert “extra.” In other words, blueberries can transform the prospect of dessert from a guilt-enshrouded add-on to a positive and healthy pleasure.Blueberry cobbler dessert

Utilizing real fruit, such as blueberries, is a benefit to dessert formulators: for natural sweetness, added fiber, beautiful color, nutrients, healthy halo effect.

The many versatile and year-round available formats offer many production-friendly options. For example, blueberry juice and blueberry purée provide luscious color, smooth texture, and distinctive flavor. Available year round, blueberry juice and blueberry purée are excellent choices in new and existing food product formulations. Made from fresh or frozen berries, juice and purée stock may be produced to meet manufacturer specifications.

Frozen and IQF blueberries can be ground directly into the mixes imparting the rich blueberry flavor and showing lots of blueberry in the skin. Blueberry puree is wonderful in ice creams and sorbet. Interesting patterns and squiggles are possible as is everything from blueberry pie flavored ice cream to chocolate-blueberry ice cream sandwich with chunks of blueberries in vanilla ice cream served between two chocolate cookies.

Liquid blueberry co-products have many applications. Uses include smoothies, frozen desserts, ice creams and yogurts.

Blueberry juice and blueberry purée give formulators a range of consistencies to work with. Whether the product is a liquid, a paste or something in between, these blueberry products contribute texture to the finished product. The interest in “natural” over "artificial" ingredients has food manufacturers looking for real sources of color and flavor. Blueberry juice concentrate and purée may be used as coloring and flavoring agents. The low pH range of blueberry juice and blueberry purée provides tangy flavor and helps improve storage stability.

Blueberry formats come in a range of options to meet large and small manufacturing needs. Products are conveniently packed and add new usage opportunities in nouveau product arenas.