In October 2013, China Sweets Industry magazine published the fourth installment in its cranberry advertorial series. Written by Michael Rosenblum, CMC China Consulting Chef and Personal Chef to the U.S. Ambassador to China, the October article focuses on applications of frozen cranberries in baking.
Founded in 2006, China Sweets Industry is published by the China Bakery Sugar Industry Association and is mainly targeted at food manufacturers. With a circulation of 10,000 per issue, the publication is the only professional journal for the confectionery industry in China and covers chocolate, candy, ice cream, snack foods, and baking.
Enjoy the full English version of the article below!
Frozen American Cranberries: the Perfect Ingredient for Baked Goods
How many times has a similar situation happened to you? You try a dish somewhere which really intrigues you and you say, "wow, that was good. But I bet I could make it better if I added 'this' or 'that' ingredient into it." You like they used a certain ingredient, but you know a better one. Only there is a problem: you can't figure out how to incorporate this better ingredient into your existing recipe. It's a solid, but for the old recipe to work, you need a liquid. Or it's a liquid and a solid is best suited. Recipes can be finicky - changing them even slightly can produce drastically different results. What to do?
In truth, not all ingredients are created equal. All are wonderful. Some are particularly adaptable. Very few are highly universal in their application abilities. But they don't all function the same. Luckily, US cranberries fall into the latter.
US cranberries are available in five different ways: fresh, frozen, as juice, dried and in powdered form. In our previous articles, we have highlighted some of the key features of each briefly. Here I would like to highlight one exceptional US cranberry product, available to the Chinese market with an emphasis on baking application: frozen US cranberries.
As they are likely more familiar, lets begin with frozen US cranberries. Frozen US cranberries are unique not only because they are selected from the best of US cranberries, but because the unique freezing process captures their freshness in such a way that it preserves most of their essential nutrients. This is as close to a fresh cranberry that you can get, though it doesn't exactly behave like a fresh cranberry. Baking a fresh US cranberry will naturally result in some of the moisture from the fruit being released into the product, though not much. This is good when you'd like to maintain the ambient color of the product while still incorporating cranberries in the recipe.
Frozen US cranberries are just te opposite. Freezing any fruit causes changes to the plant's structure. When US cranberries are frozen, the water contained within the cells expands, rupturing the cell walls and causing their beautiful red liquid to become concentrated and more readily available.
When applied to baked goods, such as breads, cakes, batters or even fruit fillings, a lovely color can be achieved. Depending on how deep you would like the color to be, you can add more of less of the frozen US cranberries, or even squeeze the juice from the frozen fruit, separating the liquid from the solid contents.
By using frozen US cranberries, versus dried or US cranberry juice, you can take advantage of their unique solid and liquid characteristics.
This combination of solid and liquid properties can be used in a variety of ways. For example, add frozen US cranberries to chemical-leavened breads, like muffins or banana-style breads, where you would like to add moistness without incorporating additional liquid.
As frozen US cranberries bake, more of their liquid will be released into the batter than their fresh counterparts, however it's not enough to affect the balance of the recipe. Therefore the product will still be that beautiful rouge that is so attractive to customers, yet not be soggy or waterlogged.
Use them as you would any other internal garnish like nuts or raisins. The majority of the moisture will remain inside the cranberry. That's a good thing, because it means breads and pastries which contain frozen US cranberries will stay moister and tastier without being soft or doughy.
Frozen US cranberries are also great because they house the rich and concentrated cranberry flavor in the liquid, while still offering texture and body that is characteristic of the fresh fruit. So they integrate seamlessly in jams and purées, as well as sauces, smoothies and other dessert bases. They can even be sugared or mixed with other flavors and refrozen, or added to ice creams and sorbets. You could also use them as you would Chinese goji berries, infusing them in liquor for both their taste and their wonderful health benefits.
Frozen US cranberries may not be as familiar as dried cranberries or cranberry juice, but make no mistake in their versatility. If you can think it, you can do it. The limits in using US cranberries are only your imagination.
And for all the folks out there who have begun integrating more savory items to their bakery menus, consider this: next time you're looking to add a little something special to your everyday roast chicken sandwich, think US cranberry!