What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blueberry Sparkline Wine

It is Christmas time and I need to thank Jack and Charlie Tomasello of Tomasello Winery in Hammonton New Jersey for the recently received treat:   Blueberry Sparkling Wine and Moscato!  
I am not a big sweet wine drinker so the Moscatto will go to my Boss, but I am absolutely crazy about the Sparkling Wine or what some call Blueberry Champagne.    It is 100 percent blueberry and not easy to make with the acidity of the blueberry.   But, Tomasello has this one mastered.   It is remarkably dry with a beautiful blue color and big fizz!   Each year I take this wine to the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) meeting on the West Coast where I host a tabletop exhibit to meet the industry.   Needless to say: the USHBC booth has a lot of action and regulars each time the cork is popped!   Here is a photo of the Moscato.

Looking for a Blueberry Festival?

I am not sure when the first blueberry festival began.   That would definitely cause a controversy.   But, today there are 29 festivals on the USHBC website:  (Surely, there are more...)
Blueberry Festivals begin in the spring in the South and end in the Pacific Northwest in the Fall.   Check out the website for exact times and the dates change year to year.
What goes on at blueberry festivals:
Blueberry tasting, pie contests, concerts and all sorts of action.

What is a "Rabbiteye" Blueberry?

If you ever picked blueberries in the Southern USA, you are familiar with Rabbiteye blueberries or Vaccinium Ashei.  This is what is sometimes called the Southern Blueberry.     It is native to the South and has a very distinctive "rabbit eye" look on the calyx or crown that some feel looks like a rabbit eye.   Rabbiteyes grow in warmer climates and are the first blueberries to be harvested in the spring.  They have a very distinctive texture and flavor and have a following all over the south.   For real blueberry connoisseurs -- give it a try!

Taiwan - Move over Pineapple Here Comes Blueberry Cake!

Everyone who has visited Taiwan knows that the return-home gift of choice is the delicious pineapple cake.   Imagine a rich buttery jacket with a pineapple filling.   Taiwanese talk endlessly about where and when to get the very best.    Now, here is a new trend in the "Formosa" Isle.    Frozen blueberries are the base of the sweet filling.    Stores throughout the region are promoting this as a new item and it has even been a hit in Japan and Hong Kong.
What is next -- yes we are working on blueberry Moon Cakes for China!

Blueberries in Healthcare Products

Remember when you went into the local Walgreens or CVS and looked for healthy supplements.   There used to be a neat little corner near the pharmacy window.   Now -- it is three aisles full of all sorts of natural substances from blueberries to flaxseed, golden seal to bee pollen and propolis.  
You will find more and blueberries in healthcare products in North America.   Check out the chart below.    In East Asia, health oriented consumers are familiar with all sorts of blueberry containing products at the pharmacy including blueberry powders, juices, concentrate and biscuits as well as supplements containing real blueberry.   Many are associated with antioxidants and eyesight improvement and have clever names like "Blue Eyes."

Blueberries in Healthcare

Blueberry guy almost lost control of his car when he saw this huge billboard on the on ramp to the SF Bay Bridge!   Blueberries are now a mainstream health and wellness product.  

How Much Blueberries Should be in a Blueberry Muffin?

Sounds like an easy enough question?   The answer from experienced bakers -- as much as possible.    Blueberries are a true value added ingredient in muffins, and  USHBC interviews with consumers indicated that consumers want to see the blueberries on the inside and out.    While some bakers are afraid of blue color from the blueberries spreading to the cake -- consumers had a different view altogether.   They want to see the color.  After all that is why they purchase the blueberry muffin.

This "maxxed out" muffin has more blueberry than four by weight!  

Blueberry Chocolates Go Big Time!

Chocolate Covered Blueberries!   Yes, they have been around a long time in specialty shops and retailers.   but, check out the new wave of chocolate covered (panned) blueberries on the marketplace. Companies like Ghiradelli, Dove Moonstruck and others are getting into the act.   Most interesting:  note the prominent identification on the package!  We recently visited the Moonstruck facility in Portland Oregon with Chinese food editors (food editors from China).   They were amazed at the place, and me too!   (photos in an upcoming blog post!)