The Maine Wild Blueberry Company has patented a method of making blueberries more readily available for consumption at home and in restaurants. Blueberry muffins are a favourite snack of many consumers, but the blueberry season makes it difficult to source fresh berries. Frozen and dried blueberries are used in muffins, but both these methods have their disadvantages. In the case of frozen berries, much of the texture is lost through the process of thawing and baking. Dried berries are often chewy.

The Maine Wild Blueberry Company has been working on a solution to this problem, and has now been awarded a US patent protecting its development.

Protected under US patent number 6,254,919, the abstract reads:

A moist, shelf-stable blueberry product is prepared in a form suitable for packaging separately with muffin mixes, breakfast cereal and the like. The preferred product has a moisture content of from about 30 to about 50% and an A.sub.w of from about 0.80 to about 0.85. The process entails immersing blueberries in two baths, the first of sugar syrup and the second containing an aqueous food acid. Following removal from the baths, the blueberries are rinsed and then dried with hot air at a temperature effective for pasteurisation.

The first claim (of 5) is for:

  • A method for preparing a moist, shelf-stable blueberry product, the product having a moisture content of from about 30 to 50% and an A.sub.w of from about 0.80 to about 0.85, the process comprising:
  • immersing blueberries in a bath of sugar syrup having a sugar concentration of at least 60.degree. Brix and predominantly comprised of monosaccharides;
  • maintaining the immersion for at least 24 hours;
  • removing the blueberries from contact with the sugar syrup;
  • immersing blueberries in a bath containing aqueous sugar solution and food acid, the bath having an acid concentration of at least 0.1%;
  • rinsing the blueberries; and
  • contacting the blueberries with a flow of hot air to dry them to a moisture content of about 30 to about 50% and an A.sub.w of from about 0.80 to about 0.85, while heating them to pasteurisation temperature.

To see full details of the patent, please click here.