Consumers have long been aware of sweet potatoes as a seasonal food, but recent diet trends have raised the profile of the traditional American vegetable all year round. According to the USDA, consumption has increased more than 70 percent in the past 12 years, as consumers have grown more aware of the sweet potato’s richness in vitamin A, beta-carotene, complex carbohydrates, and fiber.
Most of this growth has been focused on a few specific applications, especially chips and fries. However, Carolina Sweet from Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (CIFI) offers the opportunity to add the health and functional attributes of sweet potatoes to many more applications. Carolina Sweet is a clean-label sweetener made from 100% North Carolina sweet potatoes that appears on a label as “sweet potato juice concentrate.” Carolina Sweet allows replacement of many conventional sugars that have fallen out of favor with today’s savvy consumer, such as high fructose corn syrup.
The following five food products have been carefully tested and represent promising areas where Carolina Sweet can be employed to boost the health halo and trend appeal of a product.
1. Dressings and sauces
In salad dressings, Carolina Sweet allows the production of formulas free of high fructose corn syrup and low in added thickeners and colors. It has been tested in two styles of vinaigrette and a California French dressing, among others. Carolina Sweet also contributes well to various styles of barbecue sauce and allows for a ketchup free of high fructose corn syrup.
2. Smoothies and other beverages
For beverages requiring body and smoothness, Carolina Sweet fits the bill paired with yogurt or similar full-bodied ingredients. The color, flavor, and mouthfeel imparted by the sweetener is a welcome addition to products in this category, such as a recently developed smoothie featuring orange juice, Greek yogurt, and Carolina Sweet.
The most unanticipated benefit of using Carolina Sweet occurs when combining it with dairy ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and other soft natural cheeses. For spreads, dips, and sauces, the viscosity and flavor are compatible with the naturally occurring components in cheeses. A vegetable dip made with Carolina Sweet and cream cheese offers a complex flavor profile and attractive light orange color.
4. Baked goods and snacks
All bakery products, nutrition bars, and snacks are obvious candidates for Carolina Sweet. Total replacement of high fructose corn syrup or partial replacement of other sweeteners has been accomplished in multiple formulations, including a naturally sweetened energy bar.
5. Vegan caramel
Perhaps the most exciting possibility enabled by Carolina Sweet is the creation of non-dairy and vegan caramel sauce. In addition to serving as a source of sweetness, Carolina Sweet supports the proper body and mouthfeel for these applications and imparts a warm flavor profile. A sample formula has been created and shown as a dip. It could also easily be thinned to serve as a topping. With no such product currently on the market, the introduction of Carolina Sweet to the market offers enterprising food companies the chance to launch a truly innovative caramel application that meets growing consumer desires for free-from products.
With six of out ten consumers surveyed seeing sweet potato juice as healthier than leading fruit-based sweeteners, Carolina Sweet offers food brands a great opportunity to add the health halo and trend appeal of the sweet potato to their products. Naturally free of GMOs, gluten and common allergens, Carolina Sweet offers an ideal clean label sweetening solution option for premium applications like those listed above and others.
CIFI, the creator of Carolina Sweet, offers the only line of sweet potato juice ingredients guaranteed to be grown and processed entirely in the United States. The company’s traceable clean label product offers numerous possibilities as an alternative sweetener and vegetable ingredient. For more information, visit cifingredients.com or email [email protected]