24/09/19 |   Agroindustry

Amazon products turn into candy, juice and snacks

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Photo: Vinícius Braga

Vinícius Braga - One of the beverages they developed uses açaí and acerola berries as well as cupuaçu in its formula.

One of the beverages they developed uses açaí and acerola berries as well as cupuaçu in its formula.

Scientists added the flavors of the Amazon in jelly candies, mixed drinks, multifunctional bars and snacks. All without preservatives, nutritious, functional and ready for consumption. They are the result of research by Embrapa that developed açaí jelly candy, juice blends mixing native fruits from the biome, snacks made of peach palm and cassava flours, and multifunctional bars made of tapioca, Brazil nut and açaí berry.

The products are ready for the market. But the path of research has been long, as it was necessary to reassure consumers that the food was not only tasty but was also rich in substances that are beneficial to the organism and maintained such characteristics for a long time. One of them is the blend of açaí, cupuaçu and acerola, whose differential lies in the antioxidants present in açaí (Euterpe oleracea), the vitamin C from acerola (Malpighia emarginata, also known as Barbados cherry) and the striking flavor of cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum).

The search for a healthy and practical daily drink was the focus of the work of chemical engineer Rafaella Mattietto, a researcher at Embrapa Eastern Amazon (Belém, PA), and food engineer Daniela Freitas de Sá, from Embrapa Food Agroindustry (Rio de Janeiro, RJ). The research resulted in two blends, which are mixes of ready-made juices with the flavors of açaí, cupuaçu and acerola; and hog plum, camucamu and soursop.

Market presentation

The products will be introduced at the V Workshop on Market Niches for the Agroindustrial Sector, which Embrapa hold jointly with the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) at the Latin America Memorial (São Paulo, SP), an event that happens simultaneously with the gastronomic congress Mesa São Paulo 2019, on October 24 - 27.

The goal is to gather industries, farmers and market segments interested in partnerships and businesses related to assets developed by Embrapa. Registration is free and can be done at the event website.

Mattietto says that she sought to enhance the nutritional part of each fruit present in the mix, such as the high vitamin content and functional characteristics. And still ensure the presence of these substances in the product for a long time. “This is where the research is, because it was not enough to just mix the ingredients and find the right combination, it was necessary to ensure that the product maintained its characteristics longer, without losing nutrition, taste and appearance,” she says.

In order to obtain the two final blends, the researchers tested combinations with eight native and exotic fruits from the Amazon region. Through the initial fruit selection, they sought the presence of bioactive compounds, such as vitamin C, carotenoids (provitamin A), anthocyanins and phenolic compounds. “These compounds have been studied for their beneficial effects on the human body, such as acting as antioxidants that fight free radicals,” says the scientist.

The next step was modeling mixtures to define the proportions of each fruit in the juices. This stage considered indicators such as taste, antioxidant characteristics, maintenance of anthocyanins, phenolic compounds and vitamin C. “We did tests of proportion and sweetness. All of this combined with the nutritional issue, because there is no use in having a functional and nutritious product whose taste does not please people,” says the researcher.

In the sensory evaluations with men and women of different ages and regions, the preference for Amazonian fruits was evident, according to the researcher. “The more açaí in the formulation, the higher the positive rating,” she reveals. The results showed that the blend of açaí, cupuaçu and acerola obtained more than 80% acceptance regarding color, flavor, aroma and overall impression.


Researchers Ana Vânia Carvalho and Rafaella Mattietto and entrepreneur Joana Martins discuss the research and the importance of adding value to forest products

High vitamin C content

But it was in the nutritional aspect that this product stood out, says the expert. The blend of açaí, cupuaçu and acerola is rich in anthocyanin (17.04 mg / 100g), has a high content of phenolic compounds (226.56mg / 100g) and 100 ml of juice has five times more vitamin C than the daily intake the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) recommends for adults. “It is a convenient product, due to its practicality of consumption, and serves a growing market niche, looking for healthy foods and unconventional flavors,” concludes Rafaella Mattietto.

Açaí jelly candy

Embrapa Eastern Amazon researcher Ana Vânia Carvalho Carvalho led the team that developed the structured fruit, a process of gelatinization of processed fruit. This technology is the basis of gelatin or gummy candies. The result was an açaí jelly candy with the flavor and antioxidant property of the fruit.

“When we thought about this product, the main goal was to have a healthy, nutritious food that would maintain the sensory characteristics of the fruit,” says the researcher. Another point studied was the shelf life of the candy based on industrial processes that dispense with the use of chemical preservatives. “Açaí, for example, lasts very little as a fresh product, or even after being processed. In such a structured form, it lasts longer,” she adds.

Nutrition, according to the researcher, is the great differential of açaí jelly candy compared to similar conventional foods. “The most widespread candies on the market are usually added with chemicals to give color, flavor and aroma, and their nutritional value is practically null,” says the researcher. The açaí jelly developed by Embrapa, in turn, has 1% dietary fiber, 57% carbohydrates, 9.5% protein, 271 kilocalories per 100 grams and is rich in anthocyanins and phenolic compounds (antioxidant substances that fight free radicals).


The researcher Ana Vânia talks about the development of açaí candy and the scientist Rafaella Mattietto describes the juice made of the fruit blend

“Although there were losses in the amount of phenolic compounds during the production of the structured, the values found are still quite high when compared to other foods,” states Carvalho. The anthocyanin content present in the açaí gelatin bullet is 189.90 mg/kg, higher than that of grape, black pitanga (a.k.a. Suriname cherry) and acerola juices.

Sensory tests with men and women of different ages evaluated the taste, texture and overall impression of the product. The result was very positive: 80% acceptance in these three aspects by potential consumers. “It’s not enough to be nutritious, it has to be tasty and look good,” concludes the expert.

Peach palm snack

Embrapa’s research has developed a snack made from peach palm and cassava flours. Rich in carotenoids and high in provitamin A, the snack was obtained through the thermoplastic extrusion process.

The researcher Ana Vânia Carvalho explains that thermoplastic extrusion is a process in which mechanical action is combined with heat to gelatinize the starch, allowing the creation of new textures and shapes for the final product. “It is a very versatile and consolidated process in the market. The difference here is the use of peach palm flour in the production of practical foods such as breakfast cereals and snacks ”, she states.

Peach palm (Bactris gasipaes Kunth) is a species of native palm tree found in the Amazon region. Its fruits are usually consumed after cooking in water and salt, and it can also be used to manufacture flour for many purposes.

The scientist points out that peach palm is a very nutritious food due to its high content of carotenoids (provitamin A) and considerable levels of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids.

Photo: Vinícius Braga

Translation: The Food Challenge, edited by Mariana Medeiros

Ana Laura Lima (MTb 1.268/PA)
Embrapa Eastern Amazon

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