The following excerpt (republished with permission of Food Product Design) by iTi's Kasi Sundaresan, Ph.D.
New Tropical Fruit Creations
Tropical fruits have been eaten by humans for centuries, and certain fruits are in high demand all over the world. Tropical fruits originated in tropical and subtropical climates. In the tropics, the weather is warm year-round, humid, and with heavy annual rainfall. Like most fruits and vegetables, tropical fruit provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances that are important for good health. Research has been conclusive that healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, the USDA recommends 5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Given the choice between Brussels sprouts or mango and pineapple, most people will hardly blink before choosing the tropical fruits.
Tropical fruits, such as coconut, mango, papaya, banana, pineapple, guava and passion fruit, add color and variety to the diet. In fact, the banana—most notably the Cavendish cultivar—is one of the best-selling tropical fruits around the world, thanks to its ease of growing, harvest and transport. Some other tropical fruits, like açaí and pomegranate, are gaining immense popularity due to the healthy compounds present in them.
Other tropical fruit cultivars are more obscure. While they may be popular in specific regions of the world, they are not familiar to people outside of these areas, and some of them are definitely an acquired taste. Some more-obscure examples of tropical fruit include goji, soursop, lychee, acerola, sapote, jackfruit, custard apple and mangosteen.
Advances in refrigeration have established cold chains for postharvest and handling operations. Thus, today we are able to enjoy myriad exotic tropical fruits while dining miles away from their place of origin. Processing technologies like aseptic processing, high-pressure processing and pulsed electric field technology, as well as advances in packaging technologies, help a variety of tropical fruits keep for extended periods throughout the year. Many tropical fruits previously considered exotic and expensive are now commonly consumed as fresh produce, or used as ingredients in juice blends, snacks, baby foods and many other processed foods.
Novel and exotic tropical fruits draw consumers looking for "something different." And when a food possesses a positive nutritional profile and a "good-for-you" image, the product-development possibilities grow. The beverage category—notably fruit smoothies, bubble teas, juices and nectars—presents numerous opportunities for use of tropical fruits. They can also be used in products like sorbet and ice cream, jams and jellies, chutney, breads and muffins, soups and marinades, pancakes and waffles, and fruit leathers.
to read the entire article and a Tropical and Exotic Fruit Primer