Develop rapid drying technologies and innovative value-added dried natural products from rabbiteye blueberries
Yemmireddy, Veerachandra Krantikumar
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Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei.) were dried in an air-impingement oven using two different configurations (A and B) to a water activity of 0.55±0.05. Conventional forced air oven (C1) and a jet-zone fluidized bed dryer (C2) were used as control methods. The effect of pretreatment, cultivar (Brightwell and Powderblue), pick time (1 and 2), grade (A and C), drying temperature (85 and 107°C) and drying method on drying time and physico-chemical properties of dried blueberries was investigated. Moderate thawing (~20 min) at room temperature followed by surface scarification increased drying rate. Drying times were lowest for C2 followed by B, A and C1 at both temperatures. Drying method, temperature, cultivar and interactions among them showed significant effect (P≤0.05) on drying time. Different variables and their interactions showed significant effect on composition, texture, bulk density and color of dried blueberries. Impingement oven showed promise to dry rabbiteye blueberries.