A fresh take on freeze dried blueberries to tackle food waste

 Inspired Ingredients Freeze Dried Whole Blueberries and Freeze Dried Blueberry Powder

In the sun-drenched fields of Australia, farmers face a challenge that extends far beyond the unpredictability of weather. Gippsland blueberry farmers, our friends and customers, Santo and Maria from Mirboo North Blueberries, are battling this pressing issue that costs the Australian economy a staggering $20 billion annually: food waste.

First Problem: Food Waste

A significant part of the food waste issue is linked to the strict ‘beauty’ standards set by retailers. You might be surprised to learn that nearly 68% of Aussie farmers face substantial losses every year because perfectly good produce is turned down for its looks. Imagine throwing out half your hard-earned harvest or selling it for peanuts just because a blueberry is a bit small or a raspberry isn’t quite the right shade.

Second Problem: Environmental Concerns

The ripple effects of this issue stretch way beyond a hit to the wallet. When all that wasted food ends up in landfills, it breaks down and pumps out greenhouse gases, turning the heat up on our climate woes. And here’s a twist: since Australia ships out about 70% of its fresh produce overseas, there’s a whole lot of chatter about ‘food miles’ and whether hauling produce across the globe squares up with our eco-friendly goals. It’s a hot topic, especially in a world that’s increasingly clued into environmental issues.

Short Term Solutions

 

Inspired Ingredients Featured Chef, Daniel Grieff
Amidst these challenges, a promising trend is emerging. A growing number of Australian restaurants are forging direct partnerships with farmers, designing menus that celebrate locally grown seasonal produce. Our valued customers, Farmers Daughters, have embraced the farm-to-table approach to supporting local agriculture, including Gippsland-grown blueberries from Mirboo North Blueberries. Additionally, innovative Aussie farmers are flipping the script on food waste, turning those not-so-pretty fruits and veggies into delicious jams, marmalades, and other products. Even so, about 19% of the seasonal yield goes to waste as there is only a 2 to 6 week window for production post-harvest. It’s a sign we need to drum up solutions that are not just smart but also big-scale and easy on the resources.

Long Term Solutions

Inspired Ingredients is stepping up with a solution that can reduce food waste and bring economic benefits to producers and restaurants all over Australia. Freeze dried fruit and vegetables is a nifty method of preserving produce, locking in all the good stuff—nutrients, taste, and colour—while extending their shelf life for up to two years.

In a move that’s as savvy as it is sustainable, Inspired Ingredients has teamed up with hatted restaurant Farmers Daughters to give Mirboo North Blueberries bounty a new lease on life and ensure not a single berry goes to waste. Freeze dried blueberries are packed with flavour, boast a uniquely airy texture, and will jazz up various dishes by adding complexity, depth and texture. These Gippsland-grown blueberries are small but they pack a mighty punch and have gone down a treat with diners.

Inspired Ingredients are the Freeze Dried Fruit Experts

  1. Extended shelf life: Freeze drying significantly extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables when properly sealed and stored. The shelf life of freeze dried fruit and vegetables can be two years, making it ideal for reducing food waste and ensuring food security.
  2. Preservation of nutrients: Freeze drying retains most of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Unlike traditional drying methods that can degrade nutritional value due to high temperatures, freeze drying uses low temperatures, which helps preserve the food’s nutritional integrity.
  3. Lightweight and portable: Removing moisture makes freeze dried fruit and vegetables much lighter, which is beneficial for transportation and storage.
  4. Maintains flavour: Freeze dried fruit and vegetables retain much of their original flavour. When rehydrated, they resemble their fresh counterparts, making them appealing for cooking and snacking.
  5. Minimal processing: Freeze drying is considered a minimal processing technique, which means the fruits and vegetables maintain much of their original colour, shape, and nutritional value. This is particularly appealing for individuals looking for less processed food options.
  6. No additives required: Freeze drying does not typically require the addition of preservatives, sugars or chemicals, as the lack of moisture inhibits the growth of microorganisms that cause food spoilage.
  7. Convenience: Freeze dried fruit and vegetables are ready to eat or can be easily rehydrated, offering a convenient and quick option for meals and snacks without compromising nutrition.
  8. Reduces food waste: By providing an effective means to preserve produce that might otherwise spoil, freeze drying helps reduce food waste at both the consumer and commercial levels.
  9. Versatility: Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables can be used in various ways, including smoothies, baking, cooking, or as standalone snacks. This versatility makes them a valuable addition to any pantry.
  10. Economic benefits for farmers: Freeze drying can provide an alternative market for produce that might not meet retailers’ cosmetic standards, thereby reducing economic losses and contributing to more sustainable farming practices.
Freeze Dried Blueberries from Inspired Ingredients

Partnerships like the one between Mirboo North Blueberries, Farmers Daughters and Inspired Ingredients are cooking up a resilient and sustainable food ecosystem. As we tackle the challenges of food production and food waste, initiatives like Inspired Ingredient’s custom freeze drying can illuminate the path forward. By embracing innovative technology, we can redefine our relationship with food, from farm to fork, ensuring that every harvest finds its place at the table, celebrated not for its conformity to beauty standards but for its contribution to a healthier planet and society.

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