GSB Flavor Creators has announced a range of prickly pear products as part of its campaign to highlight some of the most popular flavors that are native to the US and introduce unusual taste combinations to the market.
The company has introduced Prickly Pear Peanut, Thistly Pear Tequila, Perplexing Prickly Melon and Spiny Sesame Pear flavors to its range which can be used in beverages, confectionary and savory products, among others.
They are part of GSB’s “Flavors Around the Country” campaign to promote flavors native to different regions of the US. The prickly pear cactus grows with large and small spines and is found in abundance in the West and South Western United States, as well as in Mexico. Its figs, known as Indian figs, are typically used to make candies, jellies and drinks.
A spokeswoman for the company told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “We are promoting flavors of the United States because we feel it necessary to touch upon the exotic flavors this country is known for. Many bakery, confectionery and savory recipes originated in America. It is home to many native fruits as well.
“GSB felt there was a market for prickly pear flavors because there is a demand for more exotic and unusual fruits in the food and beverage industry at this time.
“These interesting fruits are gaining more attention in the health food industry as well because of their added health benefits.”
The extract of the pads and fruit of the opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear) cactus, consumed regularly in Mexico, has been linked to reducing blood glucose levels by as much as 50 percent.
The pear range debuted last week and the company has already received “numerous sample requests” for them. The natural flavors are supplied in water-soluble, oil-soluble or powdered form and are said to be suitable to food processors because of their versatility.
Thistly Pear Tequila is most suitable for a beverage or alcoholic drink but can also be used in a marinade or sauce. Perplexing Prickly Melon is for beverage, fruit dip or sauce applications. Prickly Pear Peanut and Spiny Sesame Pear are most suitable for sauces, glazes, gravies or marinades.
GSB has also introduced flavors for the South Eastern region which featured peach cobbler, southern pecan pie, creamed corn, banana pudding and fried chicken.
Prickly pear products
A search of Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicated that there were just 12 new products in the US that mentioned prickly pear in their description in 2007. This compared to 14 new products in 2005 and five in 2006.
They included Blue Corn Cookie & Prickly Pear Cactus Marmalade, launched by Cheri's Desert Harvest last year and Cactus Salsa, from The El Paso Chile Company, which uses leaves of the prickly pear cactus as an ingredient
Meanwhile in December, Martin Bauer North America launched a fresh fruit puree made from prickly pears which it said could be used by functional food manufacturers as a potent, antioxidant-rich way to deliver the potential benefits of the fruit. It also hoped to introduce a line of proprietary prickly pear cactus extracts to support healthy blood glucose levels.
Spanish researchers also believe there is an increasing interest for large-scale cactus pear fruit processing for the production of coloring foodstuffs.
The researchers from the Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena devised an optimal process for spray drying the juice of betalain-rich Opuntia stricta, (prickly pear), so it can be used as a natural red food coloring in yoghurts and soft drinks.
Jose Maria Oban and colleagues, whose study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Food Engineering, presented a method to obtain a powder colorant from fruit juices by spray drying, since this format is easier to handle for some applications and not so heavy to transport as liquids. It also has high storage stability.