When comparing “apples to apples,” or custom-processed air-dried puffed apple ingredients to freeze-dried fruit, air-dried is the ideal ingredient for shelf-stable products. Tree Top’s unique process of puffing fruit, forces air into the cellular structure, causing each cell to puff up. This process duplicates the freeze-dried texture or mouthfeel.
Convenience and cost-effectiveness rank at the top of the list for key benefits of air-dried puffed apple dices and slices from Tree Top. Air-dried puffed apple ingredients are light and easy to ship and store, offering an extended shelf life of up to 24 months at ambient temperatures. Functionally air-dried puffed apple dices behave identically in formulation compared to freeze-dried apple ingredients yet the cost difference is significant—formulators might pay up to three times more for freeze-dried compared to air-dried apple ingredients.
The standard, low-moisture puffed apple dices from Tree Top are available in a wide range of sizes and are used in various finished product applications.
In terms of palatability, air-dried puffed apple ingredients hold their cellular texture better and lend a better mouthfeel than the freeze-dried version, which can develop a mushy or slimy texture when chewed.
Air-dried low moisture puffed apple pieces are most often used in a low-water activity application such as cold cereal, trail mix, granola bars, cookies or dry bake mixes, to add flavor, piece identity and a fruit serving to the product label. As a more neutral fruit flavor, air-dried apples take color and flavor well. This makes air-dried apple dices an excellent freeze-dried fruit alternative to help extend other, more expensive fruit varieties such as cherry or raspberry and fulfill the desired fruit servings on a product label while controlling costs.