Flavorful, all-fruit snack bars, made from organically grown apples and berries, stay moist and chewy for up to 24 months, without the need for artificial preservatives. That's thanks to an innovative process developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California.
The organic bars are marketed under the Bear Fruit Bar brand by Mountain Organic Foods LLC of Hood River, Ore. The company holds a license from ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, to use the patented technology.
Food technologist and research leader Tara H. McHugh at ARS' Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., worked with agricultural engineer Charles C. Huxsoll, now retired from ARS, to perfect a technique for processing fruits and vegetables into convenient, all-natural bars that can be enjoyed year-round, not just when these highly perishable foods are in season.
McHugh directs the ARS Processed Foods Research Unit at Albany.
After two years of research and development, ARS began licensing the technology to food processors. Mountain Organic Foods began using the process in 2005 and now sells its apple, apple-blueberry, apple-cherry and apple-raspberry bars in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
The bars make a healthful, convenient snack that slips easily into a child's lunch sack, or an adult's purse or briefcase. The bars are also handy for taking along on a camping or backpacking trip, or other outdoor adventure.
These snacksand other fruit- and vegetable-based products now being developed by McHugh's teamcan help Americans meet recommended dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables. Nearly 80 percent of all American adults fall short of that goal.