Producing the highest quality fruit flavored frozen dessert product requires the injection of fruit into the product during the batch freezing operation. For the best quality frozen dessert, fresh is preferable. This is expensive when not in season and is time consuming to prepare for the production run. However, anything fresh appeals to the buying public, so the use of fresh or frozen fruit (un-cooked) whenever possible is worth considering.
Fresh fruit can be used in an ice cream mix only after the fruit has been washed, peeled and pitted (when necessary), cut up, and marinated with sugar to produce a fruit syrup. Marinating the fruit takes at least 8-12 hours, so you’ll need to prepare the fruit for production use a day in advance. The syrup imparts the full flavor of the fruit to the ice cream more effectively than does the fruit by itself. It also breaks down the fruit so icing doesn’t occur during the production run. Depending on the fruit used, both citric acid or lemon juice can be used at the rate of 5 ounces of solution to each 100 pounds of the batch to bring out both a more balanced fruit flavor and smooth out any excess sweetness that sometimes camouflages the flavor.
For a 2 ½ gallon batch freezing process, the marinating process is as follows: Mix 2-7 pounds of fruit with 1 pound of sugar, depending on the natural sweetness of the fruit being used. Some suggested ratios for fruit to sugar are:
Peaches 2 1/2 :1
That ratio will also vary depending on the percentage of butterfat in your ice cream mix. For example, a 16% butterfat mix will require less sugar in the fruit syrup than a lower butterfat mix. Remember, too, that sweetening is a matter of taste, so adjust your recipes according to customer feedback. The fruit-sugar ratio is essential because without an adequate amount of sugar in the fruit mixture, the pieces of fruit in the ice cream will impart an icy texture that customers find objectionable.
Frozen fruits also require marinating but you’ll need to remember that most already have 10 percent sugar in them. These fruits are cheaper and easier to use than fresh, but the taste of a fresh fruit is far superior to anything frozen. The best mixture for marinating all fruits, fresh or frozen, is one part puree and one part pieces.
The total weight of the marinated fruit mixture used should not exceed 25 percent of the weight of the finished product. For example, you use 3 pounds of strawberries and 1 pound of sugar, you’ll have 4 pounds of marinated fruit. That quantity must be used with 12 pounds of ice cream mix that will result in 16 pounds of product (that is, 4 is 25% of 16, and 12 is the remaining 75%).
Lastly, remember that most super-premium fruit-flavored frozen desserts are slightly over-flavored because that’s what consumers want, given the success of the category.
When frozen fruit is used, you will get the best results by considering the following:
- To best preserve flavor and texture, defrost slowly
- Defrost in a refrigerator or walk-in box
- Defrosting may take 24-30 hours for a 30 pound box or 5 gallon pail
- Most properly thawed fruit will return to their original freshness
- Never re-freeze thawed fruit
- To accelerate thawing of syrup packs only, thaw at room temperature or run cool water over the container, tin container or plastic bag.
- Thawed fruit should be immediately used within two hours if stored at room temperature, or immediately place in refrigerator to maintain sanitary health considerations.
- Cover thawed fruit tightly to preserve its color and flavor
- Once thawed fruit is refrigerated, make sure you use it within two days