Article by Stephen Hosey, blending application manager, Vitamix®
Looking for a fresh, seasonal option for your beverage menu? Limited-Time Offers (LTOs) are a fun and low-risk way to explore unique flavor combinations, seasonal ingredients and novel approaches.
If LTOs are appealing to you, how about exploring a whole new category of blended beverages this season, one that reflects the most recent trends toward less sweet and more healthy – fruit-infused, cold-crafted beverages?
How are fruit-infused beverages different from other fruit-based beverages like smoothies? For this new beverage category, the fruit is muddled with ice and water, a process that gently agitates the ingredients rather than fully processing them. It draws out the flavor but the fruit remains whole or in small pieces (inclusions), producing a visually pleasing effect.
Fruit-infused beverages typically begin with a base of water, tea or juice, along with ice. After muddling with fruit, they are served in a tall glass and finished with a dash of plant-based milk, sparkling water or soda, and topped with cold foam, if desired.
Muddling is achieved with the Aerating Container by Vitamix® Commercial, a specialized blending container outfitted with a round disc instead of a sharp-edged blade, enabling it to swirl the ingredients without cutting or chopping them. Holes in the disc force air up through milks when making cold foam toppings.
While very flavorful and striking to behold, fruit-infused beverages are cost-effective and easy to make. Simply load the desired ingredients in the Aerating Container and select one of the aerating programs available on The Quiet One®. With ingredients prepared in advance, the entire process takes only a few minutes.
Use your creativity to explore the full range of possibilities for fruit-infused beverages. Each ingredient adds to the overall effect.
What to Start With:
The main ingredient is typically water, but it can be in the form of brewed premium green or black tea, coconut water, kombucha, or fruit juice.
Fresh or Frozen Fruit:
The seminal component of this beverage is the fruit itself, which provides not only flavor but also visual interest. Consider frozen strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries for flavor, color, and visual appeal. On the other hand, citrus provides a thirst-quenching edge. If using coins or wedges of lemon, lime, or orange, the Aerating Container will extract the pulp and flavor but leave the rinds unblended.
A Hint of Sweetness:
Sugar content is usually lower in fruit-infused beverages, compared to frappés, shakes, soft drinks, and some smoothies. Many consumers desire low sugar but still want the beverage to taste good. Consider adding a touch of antioxidant-rich maple syrup or agave, which have a lower glycemic index and some health benefits as compared to cane sugar.
Cubed, Whole Ice:
Ice not only chills the beverage but also assists in the muddling and infusing processes. When using the Aerating Container, the ice will remain mostly unprocessed and can be poured into the serving cup along with other contents.
A Dash of Dairy:
Dairy or plant-based milk can round out flavors, add body to the beverage and contribute visual appeal. The best pairings with dairy are sweet, ripened and creamy fruits like mango, banana, avocado, and fig. Plant-based milks pair especially well with tart and seasonal options like berries, pineapple and dragon fruit.
A Splash of Effervescence:
Liven up your drinks by finishing them with a few ounces of sparkling water, tonic or club soda. Be sure to add the soda after the blending process to maintain carbonation.
Cold Foam Flourish:
An optional finish to a craft beverage is a cold foam or flavored topping. A dense cold foam can be created with chilled skim milk in the Aerating Container. Add sweeteners and spices as desired before or after blending. To blend, set the Aerating Container on one of its two low-speed or delicate aerating programs. The milk will increase in volume by up to three times. The actual expansion rate depends on the type of milk, the flavorings or sweeteners, the temperature and blending program used. In general, cold skim milk produces the most dense, stable foam.
Enjoy exploring the possibilities of fruit-infused, cold craft beverages. As a reward for your experimentation, some of your LTOs may turn out to be new, permanent items on your menu.
Stephen Hosey is blending application manager and culinary team member at Vitamix, where he assists commercial customers with kitchen and bar efficiency, recipe creation and menu development. Contact the team at email@example.com.